Final run for Bella and Alex show

Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie has become known for her witty remarks

It was part awards ceremony and part school leavers' day. It was meant to be questions to the first minister.

Still, I am decidedly inclined to be generous. The Bella and Alex show has been a constant source of innocent merriment to those of us who broadcast Holyrood to an astonished nation.

Plus there have been some substantial exchanges to inform as well as entertain.

Today was Annabel Goldie's last chance to quiz the FM. (He's away on a trade visit next visit: she stands down as leader after that.)

The merely cynical will note that their warm relationship was partly founded on the fact that the Tories supported the SNP budget during their period of minority rule.

But I believe there is/was much more to it than that.

Firstly, she plainly concluded that the only thing to do as the Tory slump persisted was to lace her contributions with humour.

Secondly, she is a genuinely droll and witty woman.

Thirdly, Alex Salmond - again authentically - warms to her.

It is possible, contrary to common perception, for there to be cross-bench friendships and mutual respect.

In any event, Mr Salmond offered hearty congrats to his Tory opposite number. She had, he suggested, maximised the possible Tory vote. (What! You mean it could have been worse?)

She was, he said, well-liked and respected with a personable, pleasant manner.

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The atmosphere of happiness didn't extend to Mr Salmond's other main rival, Iain Gray, who is due to depart on a slightly more extended time scale”

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Enthused by the warm glow pervading the chamber, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick offered Miss Goldie an extra question - "because I'm all heart".

Miss Goldie duly responded by calling Alex Salmond "the prime minister." Not yet, shouted gleeful lieges.

"Don't encourage him", yelled Murdo Fraser, Miss Goldie's would-be successor.

In general, then, they chortled. Miss Goldie opined that she too had enjoyed their exchanges. (My personal favourite is when she advised him that "patting yourself on the back doesn't count as exercise".)

However, the atmosphere of happiness didn't - for now - extend to Mr Salmond's other main rival, Iain Gray, who is due to depart on a slightly more extended time scale.

Challenged by Mr Gray on college cuts and related matters, Mr Salmond stressed his party's pledges - but also, more than once, noted that the SNP had won a large majority in the May election.

His point seemed to be that Mr Gray was scarcely in a position to challenge the SNP - when the Nationalist manifesto (and, presumably, record) had been so substantially endorsed by the people.

Which is a point, as far as it goes. But it cannot be taken too far.

Mr Gray is not the first minister. I suspect he is well aware of that.

However, he does lead the largest opposition party and, as such, is entitled to pose questions to the elected government.

I am not sure that Mr Salmond greatly advanced his cause by advising Mr Gray: "Just learn to live with it!"

Brian Taylor Article written by Brian Taylor Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

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  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Annabel Goldie is a skilled and polished politician and an example of (usually, at least) how an MSP should behave. A cutting intellect and a razor sharp wit, she adds value to Scottish politics at a national and local level that is sadly lacking on the Labour side. Perhaps she'll come back and lead the Independent Scottish Tories in an Independent Scotland.
    In opposition of course!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I believe that Ms Goldie will be a loss not just to the Tories but also to the parliament. She has gained respect with her approach, able to challenge and to hold to account the government while at the same time able to see and use opportunities to put forward and support ideas that are consistent with her parties wishes. Indications would suggest that her successors may not have this ability.

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    Comment number 23.

    well spotted Gavin remember what happened the last time ? not enough people voted but the dead voted to keep the union and this is last chance saloon for the unionists whether we like it or not there are 3 camps that you can put yourself in ; status quo ,devo max or full Independence . by removing one of the options you remove a large chunk of the electorate and reduce the turn out

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Gavin, I believe the unionists simply don't care. They are too concerned with considering a future drip-feed of devolution, regardless of what is really happening in Scotland. The rest of their time is occupied by using a thesaurus on the words 'absurd' and 'separatism'. Apparently, there's going to be a positive campaign for the union, but I'll believe that when I see it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Proff Qvortrup states that two questions will not give a clear picture of what the Scots actually want. Thats fair enough but the Unionists are going to have to explain how Scots can give a proper preferance with a simple yes/no to Independence.
    It may well be that Scots prefer Devo Max ( independence is my preference ) but if thats not on the ballot, how can they express a desire for it??


Comments 5 of 25



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