BBC BLOGS - Blether with Brian
« Previous | Main | Next »

Fiona Hyslop

Brian Taylor | 13:48 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

Ever feel the world is out to get you? No, of course not.

There is a distinct dearth of conspiracy theorists among contributors to this site.

However, perhaps the Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop might be forgiven a slight sense of paranoia. That is, if she pays overmuch attention to the views of her political opponents.

For they are quite definitely out to get her.

The pack has decided that Ms Hyslop is the weak point in Alex Salmond's team - and is moving in.

For the Liberal Democrats, Margaret Smith says that the Education Secretary has provided "more evidence that she is out of her depth" over the issue of class sizes.

For the Tories, Margaret Mitchell, speaking in a Holyrood debate, blamed Ms Hyslop for indiscipline in Scottish schools.

And what of Labour? Emulating Gordon Brown - whose appearance on YouTube was such a notable success - Iain Gray has chosen the avenue of a video diary to pile in.

A former teacher, Mr Gray assesses the mid-term performance of the Cabinet, awarding lamentable marks all round. However, he reserves his sharpest criticism for Fiona Hyslop.

She gets a zero, a lunchtime detention and a visit to the Headie.

Now it takes courage for a Labour leader to use the device of marks out of ten, given that Wendy Alexander was widely derided for awarding herself a maximum score. (Note to respondents: the word "courage" is used here in its ironic "Yes Minister" sense. As it was the last time I used it.)

But Mr Gray thinks he has found a target. He even blames Ms Hyslop for the decline in the number of those studying French and German. Is he suggesting these be made compulsory?

That aside, Ms Hyslop may feel she is able to withstand an assault from the two Margarets and Mr Gray.

However, education policy is perhaps proving particularly fraught for the Scottish Government. The policy of lower class sizes in early years is meeting resistance - and questions as to its efficacy.

Opponents are challenging the extent of the school building programme. Universities and colleges are voicing concern over funding. Students are grumbling about financial support.

Twas ever thus, I suppose.

But Opposition parties plainly reckon that Ministers can be successfully targeted over a perceived lack of response in the field of education.

Partly, I guess, the concerted attack on Fiona Hyslop reflects the relative strengh of her Cabinet colleagues.

For example, opponents consistently fail to trip up the likes of Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney.

As for Alex Salmond, it would appear that they are reduced to throwing paper clips at him.


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.