“Meet in Edinburgh, mid-to-late morning, more details to follow."

Like a spy, a treasure hunter, or the parent of a kidnapped child dropping off a ransom, I followed the instructions and waited.

Loose lips south of the Border had led to protesters descending on the Dean Clough Mill in Halifax when the Prime Minister and her Cabinet launched the UK-wide manifesto on Thursday.

Loading article content

Yesterday, in Edinburgh, the Tory press office were taking no chances.

Perhaps they remember the time Nigel Farage was kettled in a pub when he tried to visit our capital. Or maybe even the time Jim Murphy and Eddie Izzard were chased around Glasgow’s St Enoch Square.

Earlier in the week, I received a call from Sean Clerkin, the pro-independence, anti-austerity, semi-professional protester who had been one of the protagonists in the “Battle of St Enoch's Square”.

He had just been kicked out of the NAWUT building in Edinburgh after protesting at a conference on housing benefit. He was looking for his next target.

“Will you tell me where the Tory manifesto launch is?” he asked me.

“No.”

“Go on. I won’t tell anyone”.

“Special Branch will be there. I don’t want to be arrested for being an accomplice to the Scottish Resistance. I’ll get renditioned.”

“You won’t. Go on,” said the man who once chased Labour’s Iain Gray into a Subway sandwich shop.

“No. Definitely not. Also, I don’t know.”

“Fine. I’ll ask the Daily Record”.

I don’t know if he did or not, but he wasn’t outside Edinburgh's International Conference Centre, eventual location of the manifesto launch.

This is my third manifesto launch here in two years. Nicola Sturgeon launched the SNP’s offer to voters at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections then Jeremy Corbyn was here for his leadership race.

There was much more branding on those occasions. The lack of posters or, indeed, any signage at all indicating that there was a Tory event on, didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd of activists gathered inside: they were buzzing.

I’ve never been around so many happy Tories. Many of them young too.

Young happy Tories. Revelling in their self-proclaimed detoxification. Some of the men weren’t even wearing ties. One was wearing a jumper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Tory man without a tie.

Ruth Davidson was the warm-up act – and the crowd loved her. They always do. But they’ve seen her before. It was the Prime Minister they were here to see.

No wonder. Those of us in that room were getting to join a very exclusive club of people allowed to see Theresa May in real life during this election campaign.

There’s likely only a few dozen of us, so rare are her public appearances.

The crowd at the EICC were over the moon at getting the chance to see May, in the actual flesh, saying “strong and stable” and “coalition of chaos”.

But there was panic. What if she didn’t? What if she decided to try out some new material?

Luckily, for the young Tories, she didn’t.

“Now is not the time for another independence referendum,” she said.

“We need that strong and stable leadership now more than ever,” she continued, “Let us all go forward together.”

The crowd leapt to their feet, cheering.

They had come for Theresa May’s greatest hits and they’d got them.

During questions with the press a journalist asked her how many seats would be a success in Scotland?

“All of them,” one of the party faithful heckled, but in way that was very polite and gentle, and possibly genuine.

May declined to put a number on it, but it’s clear the Tories are confident.

They all had a good day out yesterday.

And the Prime Minister got to give a speech, leave, and not have to be shouted at by Sean Clerkin.

Still though, there’s 19 more days of this campaign to go.