BOND. James Bond. Tony Blair may find it tough to match the persona of that screen icon. In fact, he may not even match the man who played Bond, Sean Connery. At least not in Scotland, where the actor returns to back SNP's campaign for freedom from Britain. Since the day 37 years ago when Connery turned up for a Dr No interview with 'Scotland Forever' tattooed on his arm, Connery has made no secret of his service to Scotland in opposition to Her Majesty. The SNP announced last week that Connery's been giving the party £50,000 a year.
And this could be just the start of Conn-ery's political act. "I'm caught by what's happening in Scotland," he said in an interview to the Mail on Sunday. "By the timing of it all. I'm now in my 69th year and have an opportunity to do something really worthwhile and interesting there."
The announcement created quite a stir, but the Scottish Labour Party isn't shaken yet. Current opinion polls put it slightly ahead of SNP, but Connery's bond with Scotland might change that. Or that of his French wife Micheline, since the Scots feel kindlier to the French. "I love Scotland," his wife told the interviewer. "I'm with Sean all the way. He spends his life promoting his country."
However, Connery isn't leaving the Bahamas for all time. "I can do more for my country outside it, speaking to people, promoting its interests on the global scene," he told the interviewer. He's looking for a place in Edinburgh where he can be for two, three months of the year.
It might be enough. Only last year People magazine voted him the sexiest man alive. That appeal lives on in Scotland. Connery was born in Edinburgh and began his working life here as truck driver and coffin polisher. He's returning to bury Scotland's union with England.
But he needn't play Bond again. "I've always hated that damn James Bond," he was once quoted. "I'd like to kill him." For secretly serving Her Majesty? Scots love him saying this. Last year when Labour denied him a knighthood at the last minute, the Scots said 007 had been stabbed in the back. And once he's back, it'll be a matter of time before Connery frees his country from Her Majesty. If not in elections this year, then the next one four years on. Or he might play that role 'in and as' 2007.