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On the attack

Brian Taylor | 15:38 UK time, Thursday, 20 September 2007

Today at Holyrood, Alex Salmond faced a neatly-worded and carefully pursued attack from an Opposition party leader.

She combined wit, invective and politics to target the First Minister. She was not Wendy Alexander.

Not that Wendy did badly. She looked, understandably, a little nervous. But she spoke at measured speed and she pursued an important policy question (the issue of fuel poverty among pensioners.)

On the day, however, she was fairly comfortably dealt with by Alex Salmond – and outgunned by Annabel Goldie.

Ms Goldie attacked the SNP policy of replacing council tax with a local income tax, neatly linking that to the shares income of SNP Minister Stewart Stevenson, as reported by The Scotsman.

The Tory leader pointed out that income from dividends wouldn’t be caught by LIT.

Some, she said, would regard that with equanimity. Not Ms Goldie. She said: “I think it stinks.”

Mr Salmond replied by defending the overall equity of LIT. It wasn’t a bad answer – but the Tory leader had made her point. And made it well.

Other than that, though, Alex Salmond was in total control. He swatted his opponents aside.

For example, Robert Brown of the LibDems complained about uncosted SNP promises – moments after the FM had cited research indicating that the LibDems had three times as many such pledges in their manifesto.

The SNP benches, understandably, chortled – while the LibDems looked rather glum.
Mr Salmond offered comparable treatment to Andy Kerr of Labour.

In passing, however, we might note that these counter-attacks relied, in part, on ridiculing the previous administration’s efforts.

By definition, that is a wasting asset with the passage of time.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 04:48 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Stoo wrote:

So A. Goldie criticised the Governments plans to scrap the totally unfair council tax and somehow came out looking sharper than sharp?

You've lost me on that one I'm afraid...

  • 2.
  • At 06:06 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Surely Brian this was Wendy Alexander's big moment. Indeed, not only her big moment but her party's, her shadow colleagues, her friends in the Scottish media and her mentor Gordon Brown. To say that she was dealt with comfortably by Alex Salmond does not do justice to the big build to this event over the past few months. Comfortably can only be equated to failure in this instance.

  • 3.
  • At 07:39 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Brian, I thought it was a pretty good question time.

Only Anabelle Goldie managed to land a small jab on Alex as you suggested.

Apart from that he was his usual self, completely outclassing the opposition including poor wee Wendy. ( :>

  • 4.
  • At 08:12 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Hugo wrote:

An excerpt from the Scotsman, referring to the Lord Provost of Dundee.

" . . . A RETIRED soldier who was questioned by riot police after complaining about a lord provost's lack of etiquette, has received an official apology."

Will this matter be raised in Parliament? It seems a scary attack on our freedom of speech.

  • 5.
  • At 09:38 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • mairi macleod wrote:

hi brian,
i'm afraid i did not see what you
are blethering about brian,
what i saw was some very incompitant angry people trying to
make alex salmond look bad, doing
nothing,all they did was let him
stick it to them, in effect he turned the tables on THEM,
one after the other they came and
got their comupance,it served them
right,
THE F.M.Q.had no bearing on what was
happening, sad but there it is.
perhaps they learn to ask questions
politely they be surprised, but i'll not hold my breath.

  • 6.
  • At 09:40 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • SpecialOne wrote:

Am I the only one getting bored with the desperate, sycophantic cheering of the SNP back benches every time Mr Salmond opens his self-important mouth in the chamber? What are they, a political party or his personal fan club??

He should be grateful civil servants have to sign the official secrets act, or they could tell the people of Scotland *exactly* what he's like. And it would not be pleasant reading.

  • 7.
  • At 09:53 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • archie wrote:

This was a 'no contest'. Wendy was merely competent and didn't worry Salmond one little bit. The Labour benches will be concerned at the inability to lay a glove on her opponent. Goldie was at her witty best but i thought her topic was a bit hypocritical considering the Tories were responsible for installing the unfair Council Tax. Liberals were quite simply a shambles. All in all a great performance from the First Minister who looked like he started to enjoy himself as he as you put it Brian 'swatted them aside'.

  • 8.
  • At 11:30 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • louise wrote:

Brain you could tell us what alex salmond said seeing as it does not appear to be on the bbc website. Funny that anyone would think the bbc were biased I mean its not true of course. Its not as if they invited the london labour leader to open their big new tv centre in glasgow is it?

  • 9.
  • At 01:31 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • louise wrote:

Brian its all very well discussing what is happening in the scottish parliament but when the newspapers and the bbc are not doing the same then people are not getting all the information. I think alex slamond was right and its time we had a scottish six. In the UK we have different election systems now. The media is still reporting from a first past the post perspective when what we want to see is the proportional representation that we have in scotland. I know the first past the post still applies in General elections but perhaps it is time we just had one system. It gets very confusing trying to keep up with what one party is doing and saying in london when the one in the scottish parliamant is coming out with someithing completely different from westminster. It does not instill confidence in the electorate.

  • 10.
  • At 09:34 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Wendy seems to caught the Cameron bug, plenty of plans and preparations for Plan ‘A’ but no plan ‘B’, so when question one was asked either the answer was not listened to or it was ignored as per David Cameron and without a change of tack question two and three were asked as a matter of course.

Thinking on your feet is the attribute that separates the ‘great performing politicians’ from the rest, politicians such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton; whilst it is true that all politicians operate from well scripted and rehearsed material, it is only when questions and answers move the subject material beyond the script do ‘great performing politicians’ come into their own.

I said before that whenever to cameras started rolling that Wendy would expose both her strengths and weaknesses, how remiss of me, I should have said, whenever to cameras started rolling and Wendy began to speak she would expose both her strengths and weaknesses.

Annabel Goldie from a well researched position is a wily fox who employs humour and speaks from a position of minimal pressure, therefore an unsurprising performance.

Alex Salmond not yet at the point of being classified as a ‘great performing politician’ continues to do his prospects little damage with his performance levels; however he needs to be challenged by some more gifted individuals such that a more rigorous evaluation can be made.

  • 11.
  • At 10:41 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Ewen McPherson wrote:

I know that I have previously suggested that the wee nippy news nuggets that we get off FMQs are the main perception that the public get from the Parly, but on sober reflection, one is reminded of the William Hague Lesson.

Said Future Tory Leader (When Past Tory Leader) frequently mopped the floor with A.Bliar at PMQs and made him look like a close personal friend of Kermit, but still ended up on the wrong end of a hell of a beating at the polls.

Having said that, FMQ's have basically turned into the Eck and Annie show...I remember in my distant youth that the SNP were always slagged as the Tartan Tories by Old Labour. Eck could do worse than come to a mutual non-aggression treaty with Annabel and get the heids together on some decent policies that everyone could sign up to.

As for Slagging the Previous Administration being a diminishing currency, it hasn't stopped New British Labour for the last 10 years.

And anyway, one might suggest that the last two NNSL/Lib administrations have provided ample ammunition for serious slagging for this parliament and beyond.

At the end of the day, IMHO, FMQs showed that the right guy is in the big seat.

  • 12.
  • At 12:18 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • jwil wrote:

“In passing, however, we might note that these counter-attacks relied, in part, on ridiculing the previous administration’s efforts.
By definition that is a wasting asset with the passage of time”
Except that Tony Blair used the same tactic against the Tories in PMs question time right up until his departure. However, I am sure that the present collection of opposition MSPs’ will provide plenty of ammunition for Alex Salmond to capitalize.

I am not sure what’s Annabel’s point here, and I am less than certain that she put forward a valid case, as you seem to suggest.

Fact 1: The current Council Tax system, introduced by the Tories and kept by Labour, does not tax dividends on shares.

Fact 2: The SNP plan of a LIT does not tax dividends on shares.

Thus, there is no link whatsoever between having an investment portfolio and Council Tax and the proposed LIT.

Dividend income (shares) is already taxed at 20% already (40% for high rate taxpayers).

This is a non-story and a non-issue, is this the best the Opposition parties can do?

Or is Ms Goldie suggesting that dividend income should be taxed (again) by the local authority? Interesting shift on Tory policy...

  • 14.
  • At 02:03 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

So M/S Goldie wants to keep the unfair Council tax because it will let those who exist on Dividends get off Scot free - well it will introduce a measure of fairness into the system that does not currently exist and those on lower incomes will no longer be paying more than their fair share - I resume those who live on Dividens pay a proportion of those Dividends in tax and pay tax on their Pensions as I do , so they will not get off free at all but it suits M/S Goldie to protect the higher earners and as she is one of those, it is not surprising she does not want to pay her fair share

  • 15.
  • At 09:23 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Brian, why no recent plugs for the Arabs? They have done so well recently, I would take the opportunity while it lasts! As a killie fan myself, I know these upturns are often fleeting for those clubs outwith Glasgow and Edinburgh. Although, to be fair, Levein is a very good manager and an assumption of continued relative success may not be misplaced.

On a more high-brow note: I thought the Tory leader, Goldie, was excellent the other day. This is despite my disagreeing vehemently with her on almost any issue you care to choose. I cant help feeling that (in the parliament at least) she will continue to overshadow both Wendy and Nicol. I feel she has a stature the other two lack.

  • 16.
  • At 06:28 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Well it seems that Brian's main job is to take the weekly cremation of the Unionist Parties by Alex the Great and try to remould some resembalance credability. Lets not try to mention that it was Alex Salmond who got Brians London Boss to quote Alex on how future Scottish Content and expenditure should expand. You would have thought Brian would have made some congratulatory notice of what Alex has done for the staff at the BBC.

Firstly he has reversed the cutbacks from Scottish Broadcasting.

Secondly he has increased spending into the Scottish community by some 50 million per annum.

And thirdly he has got the BBC Head Office dancing to the Scottish Music or else.

Think about your future in the SBC Brian. Try to be at least balanced in your reports no matter what your instructions are from your London Masters.

  • 17.
  • At 08:16 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

Well said Louise. I, too, was annoyed that Gordon Brown opened the new BBC Scotland building. As far as I am concerned he does not represent Scotland's interests.

  • 18.
  • At 12:48 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Maggie McLeod wrote:

Not for the first time you’ve lost me on this one Brian.

Gouldie is what she appears to be "a reasonably bight woman, but totally out of kilter with vast majority of Scots".

She will ever carp from the political sidelines.

What confuses me today is the leading news of BBC Scotland. Miss Smith impending wedding. Is this news, for immediate family, yes, for the rest of the 5.1 million of us, NO!

We had a promise from BBC Scotland that they would serve the people of Scotland yesterday. It seems to me that within the space of a day BBC Scotland have reverted back to kind and are serving UK Labour's Scottish Mafia.

This is not news! The BBC will never be able to serve the people of Scotland when this crude and pernicious coverage of our country’s news and affairs continues to be skewed to UK Labour’s Scottish mafia.

Give us a break BBC and serve the people!

Maggie McLeod

  • 19.
  • At 12:51 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Dougie McLean wrote:

The SNP policy of Local income tax is correct. They should push this through, if the Liberals do not support and others vote down the policy, the electroate will remember. Fairness and equity is what we want, local income tax will deliver.

D Mcl

  • 20.
  • At 11:39 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Wendy seems to caught the Cameron bug, plenty of plans and preparations for Plan ‘A’ but no plan ‘B’, so when question one was asked either the answer was not listened to or it was ignored as per David Cameron and without a change of tack question two and three were asked as a matter of course.

Thinking on your feet is the attribute that separates the ‘great performing politicians’ from the rest, politicians such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton; whilst it is true that all politicians operate from well scripted and rehearsed material, it is only when questions and answers move the subject material beyond the script do ‘great performing politicians’ come into their own.

I said before that whenever to cameras started rolling that Wendy would expose both her strengths and weaknesses, how remiss of me, I should have said, whenever to cameras started rolling and Wendy began to speak she would expose both her strengths and weaknesses.

Annabel Goldie from a well researched position is a wily fox who employs humour and speaks from a position of minimal pressure, therefore an unsurprising performance.

Alex Salmond not yet at the point of being classified as a ‘great performing politician’ continues to do his prospects little damage with his performance levels; however he needs to be challenged by some more gifted individuals such that a more rigorous evaluation can be made.

  • 21.
  • At 12:16 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Dave "Boy" wrote:

Louise & Anne, broadcasting is a reserved matter for Westminster, therefore it is only right that the head of that particular government (a Scotsman whose dad worked a short distance from the site of the new building) should open the building.

Or is it the SNP's true beliefs that a Scotsman who leaves this country forfeits his right to carry any opinion/duties on Scottish matters? I think Mr Connery should be told.

  • 22.
  • At 07:29 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Well Brian lets hear your take on the London Controlled Numptie Parties ability to leave Scotlands People with massive debts on the Railworks Scandal. While your there you may like to comment on the Private Schools Programme that leaves the Scots People in Debt up to our neck to the tune of 22 billion Quid.

Dont suppose this comment will be put up. Considering Alex Salmond has won so much for the British Branch of the BBC which no doubt you and your colleagues will benefit from. Considering that until the last week you were all concerned about cutbacks and retrenchment.

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