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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    While Gray is obviously entitled to question the First Minister, he does it in a manner which does politics no favours. Gray and Rennie exude an air of venomous and humourless dislike for the elected government and give the impression they would rather spit in your eye than shake your hand.
    In opposition they are plain nasty, I hate to think what they would be like with power

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Ian Gray challenging about college cuts, are you serious ? Milliband and co support the university fees for students and we have a headless Labour party in Scotland that would have to follow their lead and start charging Scottish students for Scottish university places.

    Is this really a Labour party ? Smells more like tories to me...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Have to agree with #1. Gray and Rennies sneering attitude and Rennie's childish use of the "separation word" endears them to nobody.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Latest MORI subset shows highest certain to vote (West'r) yet for the SNP at 60%. Small sample, but trend continues. Running average (certain to vote, all polls and subsets) Scots Westminster intention (with change relative to 2010 GE) as of 27-10-11:

    SNP = 47.4% (+27.5)
    Lab = 26.8% (-15.2)
    Con = 16.5% (-0.2)
    Lib = 6.4% (-12.5)

    MP prediction:
    SNP = 52
    Lab = 6
    Lib = 1
    Con = 0

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Quite right Brian, the nation to which you broadcast, and I have duly noted your use of the word 'nation', is indeed astonished every week come FMQs. I suspect though that I am not alone in my astonishment at the brazen disregard at impartiality often evidenced by our state-funded broadcaster; and astonished again at the paucity of wisdom, intellect, gravitas displayed by Gray and his cohorts.


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