ON Sunday Scottish percussionist Colin Currie was performing Steve Reich's seminal 1976 minimalist work, Music for 18 Musicians, with his group at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in the presence of the composer, who has already been quite unequivocal about the regard in which he holds Currie's performances of his work.

On Tuesday he was being feted, wearing the kilt, at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in London, named Instrumentalist of the Year. It would be good to report other Scots among the 14 winners, but that was not to be, and his achievement should be celebrated in its singularity.

The context of election week was far from irrelevant to the RPS Award proceedings. It was implicit in a memorable soundbite from German baritone Christian Gerhaher in his acceptance speech as Singer of the Year: "Learn music and you will understand the world." And it was at the heart of the keynote address from Sir Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, who was awarded the RPS Gold Medal, the 100th recipient. His remarks, made off the cuff and unscripted, went down very well on the night, admittedly for an audience of the converted, but were exactly the sort of impassioned advocacy of the arts that had been absent from the election campaign. He talked of the crucial components that a grounding in music adds to personal development and how it nurtures emotional intelligence, a key trait in successful people. He enthused about how the seeds of that have to be planted in youth.

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You would be hard pushed to find a politician of any shade of opinion who would disagree with that, but equally stretched to find one that had said anything similar over the past few weeks. Westminster culture minister Sajid Javid has proved that his ambition outstrips his commonsense on other questions as well as the arts, but with Ukip candidates around, the foot-in-mouth tendencies of senior Tories struggle to command attention, and I haven't been aware of him being challenged at all on the Government's record in his department. The received wisdom as the reason for this silence, is that "there are no votes in the arts", a contention that the sheer number of those employed in the cultural sector seems to me to be a strong argument against. It is an opinion that SNP Councillor and City of Edinburgh Cultural Champion Richard Lewis, a charming and urbane chap with a career in music, saw no problem in voicing at the launch of this year's Edinburgh Festival, as I may have mentioned at the time and still finding baffling.

The fact is that politics is all about things that there are seemingly no votes in. The last administration was most loathed for its indulgence of the very rich, its reluctance to pursue those who do not pay their fair share of tax and its stated desire to enable the top one or two per cent to share less of their ill-gotten gains with the rest of us. It is arithmetically obvious, surely, that there are comparatively few votes in that - it is an ideological rather than a ballot-baiting position. The same, regrettably, applies to opposition to Trident. Having campaigned passionately against nuclear weapons in the 1980s, when Scottish CND could regularly muster tens of thousands, I would be forced to admit that it was no nearer the top of the election agenda at the end of the Cold War than it is now.

But were cultural questions at the top of my mind when I cast my own ballot this time around? Aye, there's the rub. I'm not sure I can honestly say that they were.