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Awkward moments

Brian Taylor | 13:31 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2007

He emerged smiling – but this wasn’t the most comfortable of Parliamentary occasions for Alex Salmond. I’m talking about today’s session of questions to the First Minister.

He faced detailed questions on policy implementation, most notably from Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen. No doubt comparably detailed answers will emerge in due course, post consultation.

But they didn’t emerge on the day. Cue opposition guffaws – and mild discomfort for the FM.

Cathy Jamieson was leading for Labour – because the Labour leader (provisional) has yet to be formally endorsed by the party’s electoral college. Wendy Alexander won’t step up to the plate until September 14.

Ms Jamieson was rather effective. Her prologue was a little discursive – but her core challenge was potent.

Ok, Mr Salmond, so you can’t get all your primary legislation through – but what about issues that don’t require changing the law?

Specifically, what about support for housing, ending PPP, freezing the council tax and reducing class sizes. More specifically still, what about the SNP manifesto promise of £2,000 to help first time home buyers?

The First Minister offered an autumn action plan on housing – but opposition parties clearly felt that fell short of incisive, manifesto-style precision. They chortled, knowingly.

Nicol Stephen was sharp too. The LibDem leader has faced murmurs of discontent. If he can sustain today’s showing, those will subside.

He pursued the FM over waiting time pledges to patients. Would those be legally binding? Would there be a lawyer at every hospital bedside? (Mr Stephen is a qualified lawyer.)

Alex Salmond advised him that he intended to follow the Norwegian model of patient guarantees which, apparently, works well – rather than the US-style blizzard of litigation envisaged by Mr Stephen.

Again, though, little detail. That’s entirely understandable. It’s very early in the life cycle of the Salmond administration. However, it doesn’t make for an easy time in the chamber. Opposition MSPs chortled knowingly once more. Those chortles said: “Welcome to government”.

PS: More name games. The Presiding Officer Mr Alex Fergusson Esq wants a bit of decorum in the chamber. No more calling other MSPs by their first names. And sit up straight, Salmond Minor.

If you were being wicked, you could blame his predecessor (but one).

In the chair, The Rt Hon Baron Steel of Aikwood advised members: “Just call me Sir David”. Once standards slip……..

Name game two. The Scotland Office indicates that it will continue to call Team Salmond the “Executive”, despite their wish to be known as “the Scottish Government”.

I still reckon that the alternative title, the White Heather Club, merits consideration.


Comments

  • 1.
  • At 02:11 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • John Leven wrote:

Brian

I must have been watching a different program (BBC Parliament Chanel) than you.

I do not think I have ever seen anything as useless as Nicol Stephen was yesterday. He looked like he was half asleep, and read the script that someone had obviously written for him with all the passion and enthusiasm of the talking clock. If he is the best the Libdems has god help them. Is he there because he is so bad he makes Ming look good.

I thought Cathy Jamieson was very good yesterday, if a bit hectoring. Her problem though, along with all Nulabour, is that they were in power for eight years and achieved very little. It leaves them and the Libdems looking a bit stupid to criticize people on policy that they controlled and managed to make worse. Scottish dentistry (Jack set up a task force to fix this) and affordable housing, to name two that they brought up yesterday.

The Scottish media would appear to have collective amnesia about the last eight years of Nulabour and their gofers but the vast majority of us do not.

  • 2.
  • At 02:55 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Bryce Miller wrote:

When Anabel Goldie asked the First Minister about his party's "dogmatic" opposition to PPP/PFI, and more generally private finance for public services, I couldn't help but wonder if she realised that she was asking the question to the leader of a social democratic party, not the North-East Tories.

  • 3.
  • At 03:07 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

Can a minority government be vital? When, is, a sufficient amount of time for an administration to be held accountable? When is the minority executive going to stop blaming their minority status for lack of delivery or blaming Westminster for restraining them? I don't have the answers what I do have is a real sense of stasis.

  • 4.
  • At 03:15 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • 1971thistle wrote:

Brian

No mention of leader-elect of the Labour MSP group's intervention?

Little sign of Wendy's "formidable intellect" yesterday...

  • 5.
  • At 03:20 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Christian Schmidt wrote:

> Name game two. The Scotland Office indicates that it will continue to call Team Salmond the "Executive", despite their wish to be known as "the Scottish Government".

CS: How pathetic. Does the Wales Office call the Welsh Assembly Government a government? Of course it does - so why is the Scotland Office being so silly?

Christian

  • 6.
  • At 03:24 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • derek barker wrote:

The return of the nat bashing,consensus politic's,not a chance,isn't opposition politic's easy, you just disagree then disagree somemore and for those who are more polite, we will agree to disagree,dawn the tin helmets,dig the trenches,it may be along 4years...

  • 7.
  • At 03:25 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Ed Martin wrote:

The 'White Heather Club' might be what those of Labour and unionist persuasion wish the Scottish Parliament to remain and it is certainly PM Gordon Brown's most fervent wish, hence his picking fights twice this week with AS. But, in the eyes of much of the Scottish establishment (and lots of ordinary folk) Alex Salmond and the Nats are doing well and adding weight and gravitas to Holyrood.
Yes, like it or not,'the times they are a changin''


  • 8.
  • At 03:39 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • James D. wrote:

Chortle now, choke later.

I can't wait to review a whole year's work from Alex Salmond's Scottish Government.

What today's FMQs demonstrates is that the SNP's plans to make Scotland matter will be blocked at every opportunity by the opposition parties, Labour in particular. Nevertheless, it looks like Salmond will lead a strong, positive argument time and again - for Scotland.

  • 9.
  • At 04:22 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Gregor Addison wrote:

Sandymac, I think you're being a bit disingenuous. You ask if a minority government can be "vital" and I would argue yes, up to a point; however, it must work within the limits of its powers. I remind you that the Scotland Office alone have the power over calling elections, so the SNP (who are doing rather well in the polls) cannot go to the electorate again to strengthen their hand. If you don't like it, then you might want to argue for a change to this system. After all, it could well have been the Labour Party who were in this position. Except, of course, that the Lib Dems would have always readily leapt into the Labour lap.

  • 10.
  • At 04:26 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Archie wrote:

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown spent 10 years at PMQs and Budgets telling us what the previous Conservative government failed to do and so Salmond cannot be blamed for burdening the blame for the current state of affairs on the shoulders of the previous Lib-Lab Executive.

On a side note - I was in the Chamber as a spectator today and cannot believe the lack of class and downright rudeness of the Labour benches. A friend from the U.S was with me and was appalled at their behaviour. Thank goodness they are no longer in charge - a disgrace!

  • 11.
  • At 05:15 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • andym - London wrote:

The mood in the camp from this side of the terracing is that AS is perfoming well, even my English colleagues are commenting on his charisma.

From sunny London, it seems that a positive vibe is emanating from Scotland now and that has created a sense of pride in Scots that is no longer borne on how badly England do things (apart from football obviously!).
If this is still part of the SNP honeymoon period then Mrs. SNP will surely be a bit knackered, as it seems to be going on for a while.

The jibes by the Tories/Labour/LD's just don't seem to be working and AS's assertion to keep it as simple and honest as possible are keeping the great Scottish public on his side.

Keep up the great Blog

AndyM - London

  • 12.
  • At 05:26 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I am delighted that the Presiding Officer has called for a little more decorum in the chamber. Far too often it seems a little too familiar when I tune in. It is far from the feral atmosphere in the UK Parliament, to be sure, but it needs a little discipline. Mr Fergusson has the makings of a great speaker for this and several other reasons. Bravo!

  • 13.
  • At 05:28 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Not for the first time I think you are talking biased Unionist nonsense. You must have been watching a different programme from me.
I thought Salmond dealt rather well with the embittered bilge from Jamieson, Stephen and Goldie.
After all, he has only been in office for 113 days and when you consider that the other lot were there for 8 years and how little they achieved, it shows the hypocrisy of those politician who participated in Government during the inept Jack MacConnel era.

  • 14.
  • At 06:01 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

The only downside to having an SNP government is that we have lost a thoughtful and constructive opposition. Can we not vote out the opposition and replce them with someone better?

The SNP in opposition worked to develop good legislation and ended up voting through most Executive bills. In government they have done an amazing amount in the time in office. That which they have not done yet either comes next, or cannot be done through lack of parliamentary support (this is a democracy, or so we're told).

The people of Scotland want their Parliamentarians on all sides to be big boys and girls and do their jobs. That does not include pointless carping.

  • 15.
  • At 06:43 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Matt McLaughlin wrote:

Credit where it is due - Salmond does have 4 years to try and impliment his manifesto, even with a majority in the Parliament - time wouldn't allow him to do everything on the first day or two.
Salmond and his party have to prioritise based upon what they think is most important.
Speaks volumes that the SNP have put having a constitutional debate higher up the priority list than delivering the extra police or removing the credit card economics of PFI from our society.

  • 16.
  • At 06:52 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Honest Joe wrote:

I thought Alex Salmond did a splendid job in difficult circumstances. cathy Jamieson I agree was better than she has ever been. The Libdems were poor and Madame Doubtfire for the Tories always makes me sit up and take notice. HOWEVER in my peripheral vision is the petty Scottish Office sticking with using the strange title "Executive" and Lord FFoulkes introducing the race card. Did he never watch the Simpson trial? (that is Homer not OJ) It is racist to heavily use the word "London" I bet the chief of the London race is angered? The elders will take action no doubt.

  • 17.
  • At 07:28 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • billk wrote:

When i saw the 3 Opposition 'leaders' at Question Time
my immediate thought was thank god we have AS.If the outside World saw the performance of these 3 how can we expect to be taken serious.
AG a frumpy old school maam type leading a party that will never win in Scotland
CS had to speak for Nulabour.Did Wendy not fancy a go as she has so strongly stated recently.(a very feeble excuse that she has not yet been crowned.
NS looked exactly what he is. A little boy who has had his ball pinched (oh and his ministerial car}.
Scotland has called for a change. These people will regret their antics at the next Election. Go for it Alex,you arer the only serious politician among the 4. You have Scotland interest at heart in your actions.

  • 18.
  • At 07:49 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

It seems that some commentators on your blog do not understand the principle of being an opposition. They are supposed to oppose. This can be seen over the previous eight years of the Scottish Parliament when the opposition opposed the government - its there in the record of debates on the Parliment's website as is the voting record of the opposition doing their job of opposing. And yes it is easier to oppose than to be in government as all parties moving between the two situations discover.

  • 19.
  • At 08:02 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

I for one have really no interest in the Lib Lab negative rhetoric, it is the same jaundiced rant that only a surrogate could believe.

Surely the time has come now to question the patriotism of Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen.

Both Cathy and Nicol fought the election battle telling the public what Scotland couldn't acheive.

The First Minister was animated and effervescent,Alex Salmond won the election by being positive,Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen post election continue to inform this proud and ancient race of people of what we are unable to acheive.

Perhaps it is time for both Cathy and Stephen to consider a fresh start abroad,Im reliably informed that Malawi will soon accommodate renegades.


  • 20.
  • At 08:35 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • marianne wrote:

Brian, I watched your colleague Glen Campbell on Reporting Scotland tonight and was rather disconcerted to see him flamboyantly, in fact almost gleefully 'tear in half' a copy of the SNP manifesto (he did it not once, but several times during his piece) by way of illustrating his thoughts on Alex Salmond's responses to questions put to him at FMQs today.
I didn't think that piece of theatre was necessary in a BBC news bulletin nor, having watched First Minister's Questions did I think his 'tearing up' assessment was at all correct.
This comes on the back of an item a few days ago when Reporting Scotland, on doing a piece from the Oil and Gas Conference in Aberdeen and the so called spat between Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary David Cairns played the 'Darth Vader' theme music when the first Minister was on screen. Were the BBC implying that Mr Salmond is a 'baddie', a 'dark and dangerous' force?
That's twice I've felt uncomfortable with the BBCs coverage of Alex Salmond in recent times (three times, if you count the Kirsty Wark Newsnight interview for which she later had to apologise).
I wouldn't like to think that the BBc were becoming a danger to democracy in Scotland.

  • 21.
  • At 09:38 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • louise wrote:

Would be interested Brian to know what you thought about the lack of any clear direction by the unionist coalition. They all just seem to be trying to outspin each other in attacking Alex Salmond and failing miserably I might add. Where is their attempt to engage with the SNP in the new consensus politics.

  • 22.
  • At 10:40 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Murdo Fraser wrote:

What is it with the BBC and their biased treatment of Alex Salmond? Newsnight Scotland's report on the FMQT was nothing short of disgraceful in its bias and lack of balance. For goodness' sake back away from your old 'new labour' friends - you are letting both yourselves and you viewers down.

  • 23.
  • At 10:42 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Gavin wrote:

Cathy Jamieson is bang on the money, though.

Where legislation is not required, the SNP find themselves in a more powerful position than any party ever has been under the devolution settlement. They have the Ministers, and they can act freely wherever they have a mandate (and they at very least have more of a mandate than anyone else) from their manifesto. Even otherwise, they are only restrained by the possibility of motions of no confidence, and there are few policy issues where the whole opposition would rally against them.

Salmond is trying hard to bin the manifesto, but it just isn't good enough. He's clever enough to know that half of it was uncosted nonsense and gimmickry (the £2,000 for first time buyers being the most startling example - what planet were they on when they thought that was the single most important thing you could do about the housing crisis in Scotland?) but if he doesn't intend to even try to do any of it, he is going to have to own up properly.

  • 24.
  • At 10:49 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • neil robertson wrote:

I have just watched your colleague Glenn Campbell ripping up the SNP manifesto to 'punctuate' a report which recycled criticism from the
opposition parties at Holyrood. I
think this was a serious lapse in
editorial judgement for which the
BBC should apologise forthwith. It
was a bit too much like the sort of
gimmick that Douglas Alexander and
his attack dogs do in their party politicals. Not suitable for BBC.

  • 25.
  • At 11:07 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Cathy Jamieson and Labour needs to get its act together. The SNP manifesto pledged to introduce a first time buyers grant of £2000. This has been roundly criticized by academics, charities, lenders etc so the SNP, wisely, has decided to pursue other more targeted ways of helping home-owners. It got its manifesto wrong! Big deal. The point is that it has decided not to slavishly follow it. Labour has criticised the FTB grant too - it thinks it is daft - but by continually trying to back the SNP into a corner, it is in danger of foisting on the country an inefficient policy. Another example of where politics and policy don't converge. No wonder people are fed up with politicians.

  • 26.
  • At 11:58 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

I think Alex has realised that the SNP are clinging to power. Unless he pulls some amazing policy results in the next four years they will once more descend into oppostion. He dare not tackle his original promises as these will singularly fail. He has already made noises about oil revenue, and been rebuffed by Westminster. The SNP have achieved power - 20 years too late. The quicker he goes the better, before he completely destroys the Scottish economy.

  • 27.
  • At 07:00 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Chasa wrote:

Careful Brian, the neutrality a BBC journalist should bring to his/her reporting is beginning to waver. I would hate to see you slip into the unionist camp.

  • 28.
  • At 08:42 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

I think we need to remember Mr Salmond is now there to be shot at. Some of the fawning comments show his supporters (though not the man himself I suspect) cannot get their heads round that governing is about doing things you say you will. No doubt announcements will keep on coming which flow from the SNP manifesto, but it is only right that Labour and the other opposition parties questions Mr Salmond on these issues. I thought it was a good FMQ to start the session and Brian's comments were, as usual, just about spot on.

  • 29.
  • At 09:21 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Brian do you support the report by your colleague Glenn Campbell on Reporting Scotland?

This melodramatic and comic performance by Mr Campbell would not be out of place in River City nor Still Game. Absolutely hilarious. I was in tears. Surely such ham acting is worthy of a bit part on these shows - producers take note.

I am afraid Mr. Campbell has tarnished his reputation as journalist, never mind a political journalist, never mind a neutral political journalist. This performance is up there with Wendy Alexander's the Very Hungary Caterpillar speech. Another classic for Your Tube methinks.

  • 30.
  • At 09:21 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Dave "Boy" wrote:

Round 1 to the opposition most definitely - and for the more naive amongst the SNP following - no it is not negative carping and "embittered bilge", there is no "Unionist Coalition", and I didn't realise spearing Mr Salmond at FMQ was now a treasonable offence!

I fully expect each of the opposition parties to support the SNP bills which align closely with their own positions - and where they dont, I expect them to challenge and seek amendments. That is the purpose of opposition. Democracy in action.

  • 31.
  • At 09:46 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Gary McLean wrote:

I agree with posters above - having been surprised first by the tone of your blog, Brian, and then by Glenn Campbell on TV with his OTT manifesto ripping up performace - which was ludicrous. Your little comment about the white heather club showed bias through mockery. If the Scottish Goverment are called just that, now, by the elected goverment, then Labour's London-centred Scottish Office ought to be decent enough to respect these wishes. And one other thing: Glenn, what government ever gets its full manifesto realised in the first session of a parliament? Let alone a minority government. In the one department our company has dealt with since the election, our experience of the new minister and new approach has been a quantum leap forward in quality and vision. Things are on the up and the opposition trio should learn the lessons of negativity. At least Annabelle Goldie is witty!

  • 32.
  • At 09:52 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

Wow, I did not realise I had stumbled upon a meeting of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society! It seems that he can do no wrong. Whilst, not an SNP supporter I am willing to admit that the SNP has done a decent job since taking office. It is also blatantly obvious that a lot of the manifesto promises simply cannot be fulfilled due to lack of funding, and this is something the SNP supporters should be able to admit. It is also something Alex Salmond should be taken to task about by the opposition.

  • 33.
  • At 09:54 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

I totally agree with Marianne (post no. 20).

The BBC really are in danger of looking anything but neutral, and this is a very bad thing. Gleefully tearing up bits of paper without mentioning the rather important point about the SNP being in a minority, seems like very poor journalism to me. Shame on you Glen Campbell for some intellectually weak and lazy journalism. Sadly not for the first time by the media at large.

Let's judge what this government manages to achieve over the 4 year period, bearing in mind that they're in the minority - with 3 other very jealous, negative and bitter parties.

  • 34.
  • At 10:17 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

~# 24 I agree.

This was an appalling item. If Mr Campbell is trying to improve his gravitas he should steer away from gimmicky presentations like this and give a straight report.

  • 35.
  • At 10:38 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • The Maritime Wren wrote:

Although generally fond - though hardly converted - of Annabel Goldie, I find it difficult to follow her when the bitter juice of "crime" anoints her lips. She makes great play of becoming a "lock 'em up" banshee which is, at the very least, faintly offputting.

What is particularly vexing, however, is the terminology she employs for these daring escapades into criminal justice. Her pronouncements have that sort of majestic generality that conjours up the violent, backstreet rapist and makes that the model for all other forms of criminality.

  • 36.
  • At 10:39 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Rea wrote:

One would expect the leaders of the political parties of country to have some decorum in the Chamber. This seemed sadly lacking, with some quite bitter noises arising from various corners of the opposition. This parliamentary session more than any other will require consensus and cooperation on all fronts, and I hope the opposition realise this and use it to their advantage rather than letting Scotland have 4 years in bland situ with everything put forward by the SNP slammed down and resisted at every opportunity.

But I do agree that the opposition should have every opportunity to question the SNP’s efforts on non-legislative activities, even if it will be quite difficult for Labour and the Lib-Dems to comment effectively on the many issues they failed to address in power.

On another note. I also agree completely with comments 20, 22 and 24. I am in no way a gung-ho supporter of the SNP, but I do believe in impartial reporting, particularly from the BBC.

These over-theatrical jibes at the sitting executive/government are not in line with my views on how BBC Scotland should be reporting Scottish politics, and from recollection did not occur under the previous executive.

  • 37.
  • At 10:56 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Simon Lamb wrote:

I'm wondering if your blog today is in response to the couple of comments yesterday claiming you were being too "easy" on Salmond! Don't listen to them!

With most sections of the Scottish media an anti-SNP tone is prepared even before the First Minister opens his mouth, and its always refreshing to know that at least some neutrality can be found in some quarters of BBC Scotland! (and no that certainly does not include Newsnight Scotland)

  • 38.
  • At 11:46 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Jim Clarke wrote:

This article follows the same line as the BBC's "unbiased" evening news presentation which would not have been out of place in a labour party political broadcast.

Its time for someone to have a close look at Mr Taylor's personal bias which is showing quite clearly.

  • 39.
  • At 12:02 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

Gregor Addison: Not sure what you mean by disingenuous, if you mean cynical, I am, of all politics and politicians. No matter who is in power, I believe (at the moment) minority government is a wishy washy wasted politics.

  • 40.
  • At 12:11 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Poppaea wrote:

#5 - even within the 'Scottish Government' itself, any contract, grant offer, PQ etc, still has to refer to the 'Scottish Executive' as that is the organisation's legal name per the Act of Devolution. Anything else could be challenged in a court of law.

Salmond's using the name change to (1) waste taxpayers' money - you should see the state of the new document templates that civil servants have to use!; and (2) distract people from his party's failure to address any of Scotland's more urgent problems. I'm still waiting for my £2K to buy a new house, for example!

I appreciate that parties in opposition are there to stop any legislation with which they do not agree,I do not appreciate parties who oppose for the sake of it or to score points.I was amazed at the 'clever' responses from the leaders of the Tory and Liberal party,it smacked of 'here's one I prepared earlier'
I,too, am tired of the BBC in Scotland.Who is pulling the strings?
About time this publicly funded outfit stopped showing bias and reported news.I don't want news presenters who cannot remain unbiased, I don't vote for them and would prefer facts not opinions.

  • 42.
  • At 12:22 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

After reading this blog I made a point of watching the FMQs on the parliament channel. I thought that all the opposition parties were highly critical of the Government. I thought that Alex Salmond answer these questions with dignity and common sense rightly pointing out that many of the issues raised were as a direct result of the previous administrations policies.

I my opinion not one of the opposition parties managed to score a single point against the FM. An interesting point was also raised about the royalties from the Scottish Oil and Gas revenues, giving Ireland and Wales as an example it is not unreasonable to ask that Scotland get some of this money also. The facts that are coming out now show quite clearly that Scotland is not subsidised and that it is in fact paying to remain part of the UK.

It is good to have a competent government in Scotland that actually listens to the people, long may this continue. Further on hopefully in an independent Scotland.

  • 43.
  • At 12:25 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • EricH wrote:

Brian, Much as I admire the equanimity of your 'blether' I grow more concerned over the inequality shown by your colleagues in the BBC. Particularly within their coverage of Scottish Politics. Ps. Cathy Jamieson may have salient points to her argument but does she have to raise her voice so high to make them?

  • 44.
  • At 01:16 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Oh Brian you've made the mistake of maybe suggesting Salmond didn't have his best day at the office and heaven forfend Cathy Jamieson might have got the better of him. Cue the "Alex Walks on Water" brigade accusing you of being too unionest and lib/lab leaning. The job of the opposition is to hold the Executive/government/white heather club to account - pull them up when they break or bend promises. Its not supposed to be easy or criticism free and the sooner some of the SNP supporters learn to deal with that the better. Keep up the good work on the blog

  • 45.
  • At 02:16 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Marco wrote:

The White Heather Club

Very poor Brian

As Scots we should, of course, be able to laugh at ourselves but not at this kind of humour. The 'joke' is that we Scots are a parochial wee group of tartan clad numpties.

Its an insulting joke thats had its day.

  • 46.
  • At 03:14 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • murdo wrote:

I think it was a brave, if necessarily prudent first raft of bills by the SNP. AS actually introduced it with the caveat that as they were not a majority government, they accede that they cannot approach the creation of legislation in the same way as the previous administration. It will be interesting to see if he is tempted to rise to the baiting on dropped pledges (a curious tactic, if predictable given expected parliamentary etiquette), or will be prepared to ignore it for the sake of seeking consensus. If he does the latter, sticks to effectively implementing the policies they have proposed so far, he will gain the public trust far better than if he produced rafts of 'eye-catching' legislation which he could not honour. I half suspect that producing new legislation was the previous administrations' way of deflecting attention, relying on our ADHD-riddled brains to forget promises once a new one came along. (I could be wrong, but New Labour have produced more new bills than any UK government ever). Too often the Scottish Labour 'Group' aped this London strategy, when they just did not have the PR skill to pull it off as Blair et al did.
Anyway, I digress - I'm sure I'm not the only one a wee bit sick of confrontational political debate, and expect the jibes will seem increasingly childish, provided the SNP conduct honest, effective business for the more realistic list of policies they have produced. Scottish people will always expect resiliency of banter from our FM, but they also have the sense to recognise prudency, efficiency and honest are more important qualities.

  • 47.
  • At 03:39 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • The Maritime Wren wrote:

Mockery - especially mockery with the spice of maliciousness about it - is entirely appropriate. How dull to have anything else.

That said, I only came to watch the FMQs today after seeing the coverage yesterday.

The gist is that, finally, the opposition made some efforts to say something specific in criticism of the Scottish Government. They actually had some reasons to don their specific "wee stooshie" faces.

It is always important not to be too swayed with your personal turns offs. The otherwise doughty Annabel Goldie flicks my proverbial switch totally off when she appears in her banshee aspect over criminal justice. She habitually characterises 'criminals' with no particular differentiation among all the different flavours. Every one becomes a swivel-eyed, vicious stranger who rapes you up a damp and suitably musty close. Which is ludicrous.

Similarly, the Liberal line of "prepare for Armageddon" seems a jaunt too far into Steven's imagination - if such a realm may be conceived of at all. If true, however, the salutary admonitions of Nicol will mean that certain key legal figures of the imagination will have to be dumped.

After all, who'd be an ambulance chaser when you could sit, plump and cheerful in the hospital ward, stealing your client's grapes?

  • 48.
  • At 03:44 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • art1000 wrote:

I agree with Marianne

The tearing up of the manifesto struck me as deliberately emotive and reminded me of a London Labour party political broadcast.

Cant we get an 'ABOLISH THE TV TAX' manifesto commitment in the next SNP Manifesto? Why should we pay to be propagandized? Thats one manifesto I am sure the BBC would love to tear up for real.

  • 49.
  • At 06:03 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

Just what was the point that Mr Campbell was trying to make. Was it to show didsdain towards the SNP? Was it to show his London bosses that BBC Scotland are doing their bit to preserve the Union? Was it an audition for a Labour Party Political Broadcast? was it just simply bad reporting? or perhaps all of the above?

For the first time since the Parliament was established we appear to have grown ups running the Government, it looks like it may take the opposition and media a wee while to catch up.

  • 50.
  • At 09:16 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Sandra wrote:

While it is the job of the opposition to monitor the Government, surely it should be done in a constructive manner? Most were, at best, rather 'girny'. And until the 'pocket money' comes from the Doon Sooth lot, it means sums cannot be done!
But the performance of Glenn Campbell was far from the unbiased,balanced reporting expected from the BBC.It is time to point out that Scotland demands a standard of reporting to counteract the appalling and often extremely ignorant stuff of the past. Glenn did himself and the BBC no favours with that poor skit which was totally out of place.

  • 51.
  • At 11:56 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Robbin Banks wrote:

For those of you who don't like the reporting / blogging / broadcasting it seems to me quite simple, switch channels and stop moaning.

This page seems to have become a home for sad SNP moaners. I really do wonder if they get some pleasure out of continually moaning. Go and set up a blog site somewhere else and leave us in peace.

Likewise those within the BBC who have called for a Scottish 6 (Milne et al) it is not on the agenda it is not what your employer or your viewers wish. If you're unhappy leave and report on STV

  • 52.
  • At 12:51 AM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Robbin Banks wrote:

For those of you who don't like the reporting / blogging / broadcasting it seems to me quite simple, switch channels and stop moaning.

This page seems to have become a home for sad SNP moaners. I really do wonder if they get some pleasure out of continually moaning. Go and set up a blog site somewhere else and leave us in peace.

Likewise those within the BBC who have called for a Scottish 6 (Milne et al) it is not on the agenda it is not what your employer or your viewers wish. If you're unhappy leave and report on STV

  • 53.
  • At 11:53 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Donald McCaskey wrote:

Robbin Banks, #51. Remember for one moment that the BBC is a public broadcaster supported by public money. I pay for BBC broadcasting. I pay for this website. I pay for this blog. Now, I'm not going to pay for them and not view them. It's not like Sky News where I can ensure that, at far as possible, I don't contribute to the Rubert Murdoch party.

But, and this is important, if the BBC want to continue being funded by the public, it has to be careful of introducing political bias into what should factual news broadcasts. After all, the Nu-Lab experiment is coming to an end and Britain's new political masters may decide that some of the Beeb's previous indiscretions should come back to haunt it, and not just in a Tessa Jowell type slap in the face either. While the future of the licence fee has been left open for debate, the Sword of Damocles is hanging over the Beeb. Becoming a politicised arm of the government is not the answer.

If the Civil Service can stay politically neutral in the face of an onslaught from Nu Labour spin doctors, the BBC owes it to its viewers to do the same.

  • 54.
  • At 04:56 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Willie Hogg wrote:

White Heather Club indeed! I was flicking through a dictionary of theories and my eyes alighted on the word separation. As it was the only entry under this word and I was interested to understand what Labour think the SNP stand for, I read on. It turned out to be an entry on the separation of powers. It seems that the most democratic form of government is to have a separation of the judiciary, the executive and the legislature. The SNP are demonstrably in favour of the separation of powers having separated off the judiciary. So having installed Alex Salmond as first minister, perhaps he believes that parliament should now concentrate on producing good legislation. Doesn’t this mean that you should now call the SNP separatists.

  • 55.
  • At 08:10 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • James in Japan wrote:

Perhaps there should be a name that should be coined for the visual version of a sound-bite. I didn't see the BBC programme where Mr. Campbell "glibly" tore up a copy of the SNP manifesto. Such behaviour is clearly biased. I remember the outrage against Peter Snow when he demonstrated incredible impartiality when reporting on the Falklands. His comment went something to the tune of: "If the British are to be believed..." Snow was zealous and brave in his journalism. Some of you have had a wee dig at Mr Taylor. Some say he is too hard on the SNP, others say he is too easy -- sounds as if Brian is doing a fine job.

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