The Beeb broadcast a debate between four of the part leaders last night: Annabel Goldie (who in this campaign has discovered pastel shades, which sit uneasily with her potential new headmistress (replacing Alistair SIm’s original ) at St Trinian’s image); Jack McConnell (who seemed to be given rather more air time than the other leaders – although I’m not sure if it’s the Nats or the cosy nostra that should object to this); Alex Salmond (looking a little nervous at times – perhaps he realises that he’s about to lead the Nats to victory but he won’t be there himself as Gordon may not be going as well as he anticipated and there are not likely to be places on the regional list in the north east); and Nicol Stephen (as earnest as ever, while consistently failing to answer direct questions aside from denying that he wept in a lay-by (it’s a long story)). There were no Greens, no-one from the alphabetti spaghetti left wing, no senior citizens unity candidate, and a worrying number of sanctimonious former police officers in the audience. The debate was chaired badly by Glen “Rhinestone Political Correspondent” Campbell who didn’t allow the leaders to answer the questions asked by the audience, or by himself, and then allowed the bulk of the debate to be on Iraq (tremendously important but outwith the competence of the Parliament) meaning that there was little discussion on substantive policies, and insufficient consideration of the constitutional question.
I’m often bemused by the US Presidential system, the debates, and the bickering over times to answer question and times for rebuttals – but last night’s shambles from the Beeb demonstrated why it is important. Further, any debate either needs to be handed over to the audience with a light-touch moderator; or a structured system with a panel of journalists forensically examining a position.
Anyway, biggest political news of the weekend, in a bid to appease those fearing independence, was Alex Salmond claiming that independence was not one way – that if it it didn’t work then Scotland could rejoin the Union. This is obviously cobblers but who knows – some folk might believe it.
For the gambler in my regular reader a punt of one or two Old Scots pounds on Nicola Sturgeon to be the next First MInister might be interesting. It is suggested that in Gordon (where Salmond is standing as constituency member and on the regional list) an anti-Salmond vote is being mobilised with the Conservatives inclining to the Lib Dems to keep Salmond out. As the Tories were second in the last election some 4,000 votes behind Nora Radcliffe, the SNP a further 500 or so votes behind, a collapse in their support could be enough to keep Alex out; and as the SNP does well in the region generally it is unlikely that there will be any top-up seats.