Newsweek Scotland - A Week in News; Libya
What was the Government (UK) up to this week? It looked like Carry On Governing as our Libya rescue plane got stuck on the tarmac, our naval vessel sat off the coast awaiting permission to dock from a non-existant port authority, the Foreign Secretary thought Colonel Gaddafi was flying to Venezuela while he was actually on television in Tripoli, the Prime Minister was on tour in the area, thoughtfully with a team of arms dealers and Nick Clegg was skiing in Switzerland instead of standing in for him. The air of chaos was heightened by the knowledge that our frigate HMS Cumberland is only weeks away from being scrapped in the defence review and that other countries just got the finger - and their people - out without much ado.
We're only human but you and I don't have a back-up of thousands of civil servants to help out with our arrangments. I mean, I took two hours to build a kiddie's kitchen from IKEA this week and stabbed myself in the finger with a screwdriver. But then I'm not trying to run the country. (Not until both girls are at school). How could Nick Clegg forget he was deputy Prime Minister and was expected to....what's the word? Oh yes...deputise when Cameron is away? You imagine Miriam at the airport saying to him: "Have we forgotten anything, darling"? "Oh S+++! I'm supposed to govern the country".
Sorry about all this but I've been reading the Daily Mail. The Mail is a touchstone for Middle England and is heaping scorn on the Coalition over this and the approach taken to bankers bonuses so I think the Downing Street PR alchemists should beware. Anyway it's worth remembering the shambles and David Cameron's profuse apology the next time one of the London commentariat sneer at some Holyrood debacle. I reckon governments are forged in the heat of the challenge - and in the shadow of mistakes made - not on the iPad screens of special advisers, so this week may be salutary.
We kick off this week's programme from an interesting location - Lebanon. What was for many years the most volatile country in the region is so far unaffected by the democracy contagion we are calling the Arab Spring. It is remarkably stable if not politically stagnating as we hear from Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House from our Beirut studio. He traces the latest risings back to the symbolic act of Saddam's statue being toppled in 2003. It's insightful analysis which we continue with two veteran experts, Professor David Anderson of Oxford University and Trevor Royle of the Sunday Herald
We're in Ireland where they stop after voting and go to the pub before they begin the count in the general election. So long as our interviewee Patrick Freyne doesn't go for a beer. Come to think of it, the last time we met him was, yes, in a bar in Dublin. Huw Williams regales us with his tales from Cork, Galway and Limerick and we have a disturbing story about poverty at home. Angus Macleod will guide us serenely through the Saturday morning papers and it will all go as smoothly as a Government rescue mission to Libya. Join us at 8 on Saturday.