Intermittent web access meant I wasn’t able to see much of yesterday’s proceedings at Holyrood. However, after seeing Brian Taylor’s blog afterwards, I caught up today through the Official Report and the BBC’s iPlayer.
Let’s deal with Nicol Stephen first. Clearly, Grangemouth was and remains the story of the day, so he asked a question about fuel supplies and forecourt prices, to which he received an honest and intelligent response. He then went on to, well, read the rest for yourself. I know that every politician wants to grab the headlines, but sometimes, shouldn’t the urge to exaggerate in aid of a headline be suppressed by a higher motive?
And then there was Wendy. Fresh from her indifferent reception at the STUC conference, she decided to continue in what must have seemed like a relatively successful vein. However, accusing the government of offering ‘special access’ to SNP donors was, frankly, beyond pathetic.
The leader of the opposition should be holding the government to account but every week, we seem to end up instead with a display of inept questioning, petulant sneering and post-match foot stomping. She should learn from Annabel Goldie, who manages to get the best out of Alex Salmond week after week, whether she attacks him or, as yesterday, concentrates on a bigger picture.
Someone really needs to have a word, because even the neutrals are starting to remark on her lack of judgement and poor performances. Make no mistake, she owes her position entirely to Gordon Brown. If he were to be thrown out tomorrow, her colleagues at Holyrood would be making sure she wasn’t far behind him.
The afternoon saw a debate on the alleged wrongdoing of Scottish Ministers over proposed Trump development at the Menie Estate, something on which I’ve commented before. However, given that no evidence of wrongdoing could be found anywhere, the cheap innuendo, mud-slinging and partisan language of those behind the report really did leave a bad taste in the mouth. Such brazen playing of the man rather than the ball would have seen a flurry of red cards had it taken place on the football field.
As a measure of the significance of this silly attempted witch-hunt, the story was buried on the BBC website on the Scottish Politics pages, and even then, featured only as an addendum to the story that Aberdeenshire Council had voted to back the project when it came before the forthcoming public enquiry. Which really does sum things up – ‘The dogs bark’, as they say, ‘but the caravan moves on’.
In fairness, the Tories and the Lib Dems were in on the act yesterday, but did at least manage to maintain a veneer of propriety. I’d like to think that yesterday’s display of mindless carping and throwing of vitriol represented Scottish Labour hitting rock-bottom – a point from which they could only improve. These days, though, they quite regularly cease to amaze me…