Thursday, June 14, 2007

School's Out

I was showing a group of Primary sixes round Holyrood today. I’ve never really considered myself to be all that old, but I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder if the musical ‘Good-mor-ning-mis-ter-Thom-son’ they greeted me with was anything to go by :-)

Not having any kids of my own, I’m never very sure how to pitch things to children. You don’t want to bore them, but equally, make it too simple and they’ll have you for breakfast. Luckily, though, this lot had been studying the Scottish Parliament, and were about to hold their own mock elections. I say luckily, but once they had been shown round and we were waiting for First Minister’s Questions to finish so that Shona could join us, they had some pretty penetrating questions to ask me:

Who’s the best MSP? – “Er... It's hard to say. Some make good speeches, some are good in the committees, others are good at constituency work. Everybody brings something to the place in their own way”.

Is Alex Salmond the best MSP? – “He’s very good, but as the First Minister he does a different job to all the other MSPs, so it’s quite hard to compare, really”.

Do MSPs have any fun? – “Well, it’s hard work, but they do sometimes get a good laugh in the chamber if someone says something daft or funny".

Do MSPs get jealous of each other? – “Um.. Good question. They’re just ordinary people, so I suppose they must!”

How much does Alex Salmond get paid? – “Oh, about £120,000. More than me, anyway. Probably more than your teacher as well!”

How much do you get paid? – “Erm… I’m not sure. More than I did for my first paper round, anyway…”

So what do you do? – “I’m a researcher for Shona Robison, the lady who’s your MSP. I write speeches and meet people for her and things like that”

(I kid you not) Does that mean you do all the work, and she gets all the credit? – [Nervous laugh] “Er, no. Did you know that Shona had to be up before 5 this morning to get to work?”

Fortunately, when Shona arrived, they still had plenty questions left. And did the same boy who asked whether I did all the work not follow up straight away by asking whether or not I was a good assistant? Shona, ever the pro, answered that all of her assistants did different jobs, and that all of them, myself included, did them very well. I’ll buy her a glass of wine for that reply before I head off to London.

I predict a bright future ahead in politics or journalism for that boy if he wants one. However, by far the best question of the day came earlier on from from a wee girl, who on seeing Brian Taylor getting ready for the cameras, asked innocently if the lady applying his make-up was his personal beauty therapist. I’ll never be able to watch Brian again in quite the same light…


Osama Saeed said...

Let's hope if this boy gets into journalism, that he finds people in the Parliament that give him better answers! ;)

Martin said...


Mock elections for primary sixes?

Ok, fine - but at that age, wouldn't playing with train sets be a bit more fun?

Richard Thomson said...

Martin, I admit it sounded a bit young to me to be doing mock elections, but they all seemed fairly into it despite that. Apparently, they do topical class discussions every week to get the children to practice speaking in front of others, and their election was going to be an extension of that, but with the added bonus of balloons and rosettes. They're grasping the pork barrel thing pretty quickly, with a pledge to have a lunchtime tuckshop looking like edging out the one for new football pitches in the popular affections. It's a dirty business...

And Osama - I didn't think it was my job to spoil the illusion. I'm sure they'll work out the nitty gritty soon enough for themselves. :-)