Posts Tagged 'John Swinney'

Questionable Time #136


qt 136

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Hell.

Let’s get right to it, although this may be a somewhat late and truncated edition as I have spent a lot of my time in recent days either a) trudging around for ten hours straight following the campaign trail and getting attacked by dogs, b) bellowing like a harpooned whale at my television screen, or c) sleeping. I am currently in the middle of an existential crisis which has left me inhabiting no physical form to speak of. Nevertheless, I have typed this round-up for you…with my trembling, ghostlike hands.

You can leave your hat on

David Dimbleby is back from his nap and ready to rumble. Appaz UKIP was not available for this edition, so we’ll have to go on without them. Maybe they were locked out due to the voting system?

Besides which, we have to focus on the most pertinent issue of this election: Paddy Ashdown eating his hat. Though now an elder statesman, he has become an late game Twitter meme (replacing #EdBallsDay, RIP) when he promised to eat his hat if the now-infamous exit poll results were true. They were. If anything, they were even more shocking than we shockingly thought. Hatgate has been the sole highlight of a devastating night for the Liberal Democrats – and so, with the country having officially gone mad, Ashdown is presented with a confectionery hat live on television. Alastair Campbell is also presented with a chocolate kilt. Sadly, they do not scoff them down, and we can only wonder at their fates now. Did the audience have a party afterwards, or did the cameramen just nick them?

Honestly, I thought the hat would be bigger. Looking at the scale of the Lib Dems’ (and of course Labour’s) defeat, I was imagining Ashdown shoving an entire sombrero down his gob. There’s still time – some wag needs to do this and put the video on Vine.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Is Scottish independence now inevitable? With our first question comes the oily arrival of Francis Maude. Francis is a happy bunny, and cheerily (well, cheerily for him, which is to say a tad livelier than a corpse) says nah. The SNP fandom (#sturgeonfandom?) didn’t die down, it went TURBO THROTTLE, and the Tories never had a chance there anyway so it’s like…shruggie. Ruth Davidson was clearly having a great time, she never expected to win so just fed Soleros to people every day.

Alastair Campbell intervenes and says yeah probs. It’s Dave’s fault for stoking division. We should respect the SNP, most certainly fear them, but secretly envy them. What do they have that we don’t? Other than a charismatic leader, mobilised ground base, excellent organisational skills, and passionate policy prospectors? Like that’s a big deal!

Paddy says, sadly not with chocolate around his mouth, that we’re doomed.

John Swinney, the SNP dude, who appeared on this programme only two weeks ago but it feels like so much longer now, is having a nice day, now that you mention it. “I love living in Scotland,” he says. Everything is going super-duper for him. Until the Tories hit Scotland with their cuts, that is, but like that’s a big deal! Dimbles asks him to get to the point. Do you hope for fiscal independence? Well yeah, Swinney responds, but we, like, kind of want independence for everything. That’s sort of our ~thing~.

Julia Smugly-Brewer has her own strong opinions and unfortunately decides to air them. “Why are we always talking about Scotland? Why don’t we talk about England,” says she, and the answer to that point is because the question was about Scotland. Francis’ gloating continues, and John is offended and hates David Cameron for subtweeting about his beloved country that he loves to live in. Scotland, that is to say. Just in case you all forgot about it. Like that’s a big deal!

Labouring the point

Next up: is Labour too right-wing for Scotland and too left-wing for England? But where does that leave Wales? Everyone always forgets Wales ;_;

Campbell does his best and waffles a bit. He’s the official Labour Party damage control [insert Iraq joke here], plonked on when they’re having a particularly bad time of it, and nothing could be worse than living in The Now. He declares that people were afraid of JOHN AND HIS HORDE, and simultaneously Scottish people were tired of lazy Labour MPs havin’ a snooze. He sums up by stating that Labour needs to move away from Blairite/Brownite, New Labour/Old Labour divisions and go forward, perhaps crying a little bit, into the future.

‘Who is considering the interests of the poor, beleagured English?’ insinuates some judgey woman in the audience. She later interrupts and is generally annoying. I am short-tempered from electioneering and have no time for her sassy mouth. Paddy can’t even say anything worthwhile in response, his mouth is too full of hat.

Julia extols the virtues of David Miliband. But he is gone. And if he ever comes back, it will not be in time for the leadership contest. Class warfare that, suckas.

LABOUR RUINED EVERYTHING, gloats Francis, clearly enjoying himself.

MURDOCH DID IT!! says another shouty woman from the audience, this time even shoutier. (My ears hurt.) Don’t patronise me, huffs Francis, finally displaying some emotion. Julia interrupts to talk about the real issues. We’ve been talking about Scotland for 25 minutes of the scheduled hour…that’s why people are disillusioned! says she. Eh? What’s your problem with Scotland, Julia? Did Scotland kick your dog or something?

Why did the Lib Dems die in a ditch? Paddy audibly sighs. He mumbles that there are things they need to consider, and basically admits he’s too tired and sad to do that right now. People are a bit sympathetic. Julia tries to hug him but he rebuffs her, sinking a potentially beautiful ship before it even leaves the harbour. The Lib Dems were “honourable” and cool beans, intercuts Francis, perhaps also hoping for a hug.

“You didn’t say that during the election campaign,” Paddy bitches, obviously not in the mood for any kind of hug.

John Swinney places the blame squarely on Danny Alexander’s yellow budget box, saying it looks silly, and I think that’s the one thing we can definitely all agree on.

Europe all night to get lucky

Two UKIP-focused questions next, despite a representative not being there (nelsonmuntzhaha.mp3): Is UKIP’s performance fair, when they got a helluva lot of votes?

Don’t care, don’t like ’em, says John.

Don’t care, don’t like proportional representation, says Francis.

Don’t care, the public don’t care, says Julia.

The crowd disagree vocally. John says he is a beneficiary of FPTP, but believes in PR, as does Paddy. Well, that’s nice. Pity it’s not a big deal to the majority party, eh?

Secondly: can David Cameron keep Britain in Europe? Alastair says this is Bad News Bears. The debate for the next couple of years will be dominated by this, as will the press. We’re for a referendum, says Francis, sticking to the party line as ever (boo, I wanted more gloating, while irritating it’s at least 1% more interesting), but need a renegotiation. Also it distracts from all the other stuff we’re going to do, which is a bonus!

Y’all are arrogant, not letting us get a say, squeaks Julia. We have a right to say no! Just say no, kids! Paddy is offended by this, of course. In fact, you could even say that if Britain leaves the EU…

…he’ll eat his hat.

Time for the scores!

Maude: 6/10

Gloat(ing)

Campbell: 6/10

(Ready to grab you by the) Throat

Ashdown: 6/10

Bloat(ed from all the hats he’s had to eat)

Swinney: 8/10

(Pretty chuffed about his share of the) Vote

Hartley-Brewer: 6/10

Quote(d as saying Scotland LITERALLY killed her dog)

The Crowd: 8/10

(I’ll get me) Coat

Next time: five more years.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #134


qt 134

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to the last Questionable Time before utter armageddon hits next week. I speak, of course, of the Cameron/Clegg/Miliband threesome that will no doubt draw a lot of special attention to this blog and win it squillions of awards and so on. Or perhaps not. In the meantime, though, we’ve got a panel where bald men outnumber women three to two. Put your shiny heads together and let’s get started.

How do you solve a problem like migration? How do you stop a boat and let it drown?

We begin with the grim affair of hundreds of immigrants dying horribly in the Mediterranean. Cheerful! One would rightfully assume that this isn’t the best material for topical humour, so we’ll have to take the piss out of the panel instead. Thankfully, each and every one of them is a rich source of comedic gold.

Paul Nuttall from the UKIP zone starts us off. He’s wearing a St. George’s Day pin, and a frankly horrible tie. I know it’s the colour of the UKIP logo, purple and yellow, but it just reminds me of an ugly school uniform, and therefore of sitting in school eating lumpy mashed potatoes and ‘mystery gravy’. That’s what you are, Paul, to me. Mystery gravy.

Anyway, he states that to tackle this crisis the Med should become the most heavily policed piece of water in the world. Clearly he’s never been on Brighton beach on a Saturday night. To sum up, we must sort out them there migrants, separating those that are “true asylum seekers” and those we can just throw back in the water. Because #yolo. (Disclaimer: I am not alleging Paul Nuttall spends his spare time playing water basketball with immigrants.)

Nothing’s worked, shrugs William Hague. We did something once, then we tried something else, so, like, shruggie.

Harriet Harman interrupts to practically weep with sympathy. Think of all the proto-feminist women that are dying! By the way, why is she wearing an entire gigantic rose on her jacket? This is what Labour politicians used to do in the 1980s when they changed their logo as part of Peter Mandelson’s rebranding plan. I think this is a moth-eaten 1987 vintage jacket that Harriet’s taken out of her wardrobe and forgotten to take the twenty-five-year-old rose off of. At least it’s not her giraffe jacket.

(In the spirit of gender equality, I’d also discuss the male panellists’ wardrobe choices, except that I physically cannot tell Paul Nuttall and John Swinney apart. Only Hague’s caveman brow prevents confusion with the others. One has a slightly uglier tie and that’s about it.)

But what happens to the immigrants when they get asylum in Italy, Dimbleby asks. Will they make their way elsewhere? Because, like, who’d want to stay in a shithole like that, am I right? The panel does not know, but a hero emerges to cut through the nonsense. That hero is John Swinney, who may look generic but is actually Paul Nuttall’s good/bad (delete as appropriate according to political allegiance) Scottish alter ego like in that episode of Star Trek but with no evil beard. He pledges to restore the cut rescue services somehow and gives everyone else the middle finger.

The audience are not satisfied, though, and at this point Natalie ‘not Caroline Lucas but isn’t she great?’ Bennett finally gets her turn. I’m sure as an Australian immigrant who constantly has to hear about ‘Strayan PM Tony Abbott’s mysterious points-based system all the time, she takes grievous offence to being compared to that weirdo onion eater. She blusteringly repeats the word ‘rescue’ approximately one hundred and forty seven times and concludes that the Tories are evil. Nailed it, Natalie. Slow clap.

Hague is shocked and appalled at her gumption. It’s not true what you say, NatBen. We’ve been excellent at being Baywatch.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Barnett formula: for dry and greasy locks

Would the SNP be a catastrophe for Britain? Three guesses how this one’s going to go…

William grins cheesily and agrees enthusiastically. Hoho, laughs John, and indeed the audience, who are all amused by the frequency of this question. I am too, except I have to write about it. Harriet’s face is stony as Wllm excitedly says that the election of a Labour government would signal the end of the world as we know it, not only of the union but of other beloved-by-all institutions such as the Queen and Waitrose. The only thing to prevent it is a Tory majority. Yes! Vote for our posters of Alex Salmond nicking your wallet! It took five whole minutes in Photoshop to do, much like most of what I post!

John Swinney is mortally offended and is definitely about to post an indignant article on his blog about it and about how much he hates austerity. Harriet explains that the only way to get rid of the Tories to have a Labour majority. What the SNP claim and what their plans actually are is another matter. John is even more offended and we go round and round in circles forever until we die.

Natalie cites a total lack of respect for voters as the cause of all our ills. In response, the beleaguered crowd vow to show our hardy panellists absolutely no respect either. “Talking about getting rid of austerity is all very seductive,” says a man in the audience, which I was rather terrified by. The topic is abruptly changed, however, by Paul Nuttall roaring into action and loudly declaring that the only way to sort all this out is 1) English votes for English laws and 2) reforming the BARNETT FORMULA (yes, it’s that again!). Sounds like something Russell Brand puts on his hair.

Hague rattles off the Conservatives’ plan for an ‘English Manifesto’, but sounding like he’s either having too much fun or not particularly caring to make it as passionate as he’s capable of. He’s got two more weeks of this, and then he’ll be free. Forever. Away like a leaf on the wind.

With the topic hastily devolving into talk of devolution, the crowd grow even more restless. Talk about something more interesting, a guy in the crowd heckles! Like welfare spending plans! And funnily enough, that is exactly what the next question is about. Well, whaddya know! Employ this guy to predict the election outcome!

Money money money, must be funny, it’s a Dimbles’ world

Harriet patiently explains, for the twenty-thousandth time, Labour’s entire manifesto commitments. It’s online. You can read the whole thing. Nope, it’s still too vague!, responds Dimbles. Harriet’s voice wavers in exasperation. She has officially Given Up (in capitals so you know it’s serious). To be fair, literally no political party or indeed anyone ever would advertise themselves with the bad stuff they’re going to pull in office. That’s how they get elected, so appealing for transparency is pretty naïve.

Hague shrugs again and rattles off some examples of cutting benefits. That’s what you like, right? You like that? Mmmm, delicious welfare cuts. You want more of that? Well, how about this: Labour won’t tax squijillionaires: they’ll tax you, Joe Bloggs! William leans back and knows that it doesn’t matter if he gets away with this or not, soon he’ll be sipping margaritas in a hammock.

Slash foreign aid! adds Paul. And HS2! And…wait for it…THE BARNETT FORMULA!

Natalie, with a lead-in from the crowd, rounds on Hague. Your benefit boasting is illegal and gross, she says sternly, with the air of a substitute teacher who nobody listens to telling off a naughty, unapologetic child. You have a choice this election, she recites by rote: austerity, or Austerity Lite Max Protein Shake™. Harriet is still too despondent to whump her one, but claims there is a “trust deficit” among the public anyway, and if you don’t like it, she’ll run you over in her pink bus.

The panellists then try and fail to have a go convincing separate members of the audience to their cause, but nothing really changes until the klaxon sounds and we can all go home. As the last regular Question Time of this government, you’d think they’d go out with a bang, huh? Sadly not – except for Paul Nuttall merrily proclaiming the UKIP manifesto has been verified by an independent think-tank. Don’t worry, lemmings. Questionable Time is not one to be outdone. Next week, we’ll be the most verified ‘news’ organ in town. The mostest.

Time for the scores!

Hague: 7/10

Cheeky

Harman: 5/10

Peaky

Nuttall: 5/10

Cliquey (and the Scots and their Barnett formulas and not allowed in the treehouse)

Swinney: 7/10

Squeaky (wheels but thankfully didn’t crash)

Bennett: 5/10

(A) Freaky (Friday with Cazza Lucas would’ve been better)

The Crowd: 7/10

Leaky (with excitement for next week’s champion match, no doubt)

Next time: the big guns are unloaded.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #107


qt 107

Good morrow Lemmings, and it’s time for a new round of Questionable Time! As you may have noticed, our Glorious Leader has departed for the Promised Land and left affairs to me, Elizabeth, the dancing monkey. I’ll be trying out a new, quasi-liveblogging format of post this edition, so let me know your thoughts in the comments and if you want me strung up or not.

Also, unfortunately, my plans for this post were sadly dashed! My scanner has broken down/computer is slow as molasses, so I was not able to prepare some cool illustrations this time. But starting from next week, that’s what we’ll be doing. I leave you with only one bad Photoshop this edition, done in a panic when I realised that technology had failed me. And that’s why this post is so late and why I’m incompetent.

In any case, here we go!

Isis is also the name of the dog on Downton Abbey

Ahh, listen to that familiar theme tune! Doesn’t it send a chill down your spine, the kind you experience whenever you – merely for example – see a big ol’ spider hanging in the corner of your bedroom and you yell and the spider wobbles on its web and you lie crying in the corner waiting for the pain to end, my god won’t it end? Or is that just me?

The first question is on the potential airstrikes, despite the Scottish setting, but don’t worry – we’ll have more than enough of that brand of fun later. Emily Thornberry from the red team is first up and she’s assuring everyone that this isn’t like last time. She’s likeable enough, but her mumblings about an ‘international team’ bring up hazy memories of a certain film some of you may have heard of – Team America: World Police. Heck yeah! (Censored on behalf of our younger readers, of which I am sure there are many.)

IS or Isil or Isis or Helloisitmeyou’relookingfor are bloody horrible, repeats every member of the panel to much collective nodding. I groan as they continue to nod faster and faster, because questions like these rarely rouse hysterical screaming which is obviously the real reason we’re all watching Question Time, mainly in vain. Don’t worry, count on the Scots to heat things up later. In any case, MPs are most likely wondering right about now: ‘Why Iraq? Why couldn’t it be one of those other Middle Eastern countries no-one cares about?’ So, boots on the ground is a big no-no…at least for now.

Rory Stewart from the blue team is up next. He looks like a sixth-form student, specifically a guy I used to know in sixth-form, so much so that I did a double-take and almost looked up his Facebook to congratulate him on his new career path. He’s apparently a respected academic, foreign policy expert, charity worker, author and general scuttler across the Middle East. It’s unbelievable yet true, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on to be promoted once or twice or thrice. Anyway, he says, squirting some anti-acne cream on to his sallow cheeks, airstrikes alone won’t solve things apparently, just like how dropping a beachball on to an anthill won’t get rid of an infestation. Everyone just sighs miserably at this point. It seems that politics, after a brief flash of life in the Scottish referendum, has devolved (heh) into a resigned grumble. All is as it should be.

Meanwhile, JSP is in the house and shaking her head about mission creep, which isn’t a hot new hiphop group but a very serious problem about not knowing what the hell it is you’re doing. She’s profoundly against airstrikes and makes a good point about the mawkish reporting of Isis atrocities. Janet hasn’t made any sort of embarassing outburst yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

Rory says we need diplomats on the ground. Bring in the diplomats! That’ll learn ’em.

On the Scottish side of things, it’s all about to heat up – so far John Swinney and Lesley Riddoch haven’t contributed much but that’s about to change. I’ve heard so many Scottish accents in recent weeks that I’ve basically turned Scottish.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE OIL, comes the obligatory cry from the audience, and on that note, let’s move on.

FREEEEDOM or whatever

Lesley begins by saying the past year was the best year of her life: the humanity, the optimism, the haggis. That’s a bit worrying Lesley, even if the level of democratic interest was heartening to see (although as an English person I was pooping myself over what would happen either way). But is it ovah? It ain’t ovah. Now the argument over the devolution solution begins. Janet agrees, it was great to watch with excess popcorn, but she’s tired of all the campaigning ‘n’ stuff and wants to have a nice nap. Or greater democratic control for ordinary people, either one. I’ve only now realised that Janet is like your wacky aunt that shows up at family reunions and spikes the punch with vodka.

But will there be another referendum? Devolution won’t stop that, says a woman in the audience. The SNP are growing and hunger for blood. IT WON’T STOP. NOTHING CAN STOP IT. RUN, MORTAL. The dream will never die!

There’s also a guy in the audience that looks like Rory Stewart’s SNP clone. My god, they’re breeding! Anyway, he says that he doesn’t believe that they’ll get devolution. Yes you will, assures Emily, to the satisfaction of no-one. Rory remains silent, perhaps freaked out by his clone.

Emily is still going. I’m British, she says a thousand times. Thank you for staying because I’m British, you’re British (whether you like it or not), everybody’s British! British for everyone! You all get a British! But the Tories still suck and I won’t even acknowledge them. Since she reminds me of Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter series she’s about to get away with this when John Swinney, who up until now appeared like the Yes vote version of Alistair Darling, makes a pretty sick burn. “You were all too happy to speak to each other during the referendum campaign!” Emily says no, we’re smacking David Cameron down. Don’t worry, we’ll force him into line. Rory remains silent, quietly sweating. Dimbleby rounds on him as he tends to do and the man, who looks like a weedy nerd but actually scampered across Afghanistan one time, is startled into life. “No ifs, no buts,” says Rory, “No public sector cuts”, he doesn’t continue.

Then Emily has one more go at dismissing DCam. “He’s been put back in his box!” Applause and laughter as the thought of David Cameron being left in a box is inexplicably popular.

The West Lothian question: Tam Dalyell has a lot to answer for

I scream in terror as this infamous questions rears its ugly head once more. Janet thinks some things should be devolved but on the other hand it could be a right kerfuffle, couldn’t it? John Swinney responds to the ‘should only Scottish MPs vote for Scottish devolution’ point by replying, smugly, well! You can’t exactly rely on Labour for that one, eh? Eh? Eh?! Emily will not rise to this. You hear me, John? You’re on your last warning.

NO! shouts Janet, NO MORE! WE’RE DROWNING IN REFERENDUMS. Rory sweats in response and doodles on his schoolwork paper. Lesley seems to have given up and basically finishes with a ‘Screw this, let’s abolish the Lords’ flourish. This gets approval from the audience, who are up for any sort of tearing down of ancient institutions at this point. Doesn’t matter what they are, grab your pitchforks because we’re about to go a-mobbin’.

Rory finally jumps in. English votes for English laws. It’s not like this would help the Tories or anything. Let’s rely on the Queen instead. Dimbleby, who has been overly sarky this whole episode, brings up the Queen ‘purring’ and her secret life as a member of furry fandom. Emily is cackling like a witch around a cauldron. But then Ed Miliband forgetting his speech pops up and ho ho ho oops it’s no longer a laughing matter. Of course, the fact that Ed Balls rambled boringly on about it for his whole conference speech doesn’t register, but John takes this moment to distinguish the lovely SNP from the evil Labours. Janet says she’s had enuff of these no-notes speeches and that they’re so macho, they’ve gotta be so macho, big and strong, enough to turn you on. And something about class war. I wonder if Janet is affected by the potential mansion tax? If only we lived in a Scottish dream state in which nobody disagreed with each other ever! BRB, moving up there in time for the next inevitable referendum.

Also, as brought up by Janet, apparently Ed Miliband’s had voice coaching, but so did Maggie Thatcher and pretty much every Prime Minister since then. The only problem with this is that unlike all those other PMs, Ed’s voice has not changed at all. He is uncompromisingly, eternally, despairingly Ed. Unlike Rory’s bizarre wish, he’s not Fidel Castro. This actually may end up being a problem.

The petty bickering continues until Dimbleby finally pulls the plug, thus proving Janet, Lesley and John to be absolutely correct: this is definitely the best time in their lives. Wouldn’t you all agree? I’m going to go eat a sandwich.

Anyway, I spot Clacton in the weeks ahead so be ready for Farageageddon on QT once more. Will his reign over the programme ever end? Signs point to a No vote there!

Time for the scores!

Stewart: 5/10

Jogging (across the world)

Thornberry: 5/10

Slogging (away)

Swinney: 7/10

Flogging (some cut-price referendums, get ’em while they’re hot)

Riddoch: 3/10

Clogging (up the stage)

Street-Porter: 6/10

Hogging (the screentime)

The Crowd: 8/10

Blogging (about their intense Scottish opinions, probably)

So how do you all feel about this style of post? Like it? Hate it? If you hate it, I’ll be sad but change it back. I also may change other things around here, but don’t worry – nothing major. Just converting it into a Anna ‘Chortles’ Soubry fanclub, that’s all. It’s what we all really want.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #85


questionable time 85 david dimbleby loader aliens

Good morning Lemmings and hold on to your hats because there’s just too much excitement going on here. Dundee. Four panelists. Half a show on Scottish independence and a man who got slightly confused as to whether you really do get £500 pounds if you vote one way or another – it truly is a thrill-seekers manifesto. So brace yourselves for impact Lemmings, this is going to be one wild ride.

 

Did I say ‘wild ride’? I think I actually meant ‘a slightly more subdued rehash of every Scottish independence episode we’ve ever had’….

…You know the deal: The Yes camp paint a picture of the sunlit uplands awaiting a newly independent Scotland, the No camp retaliate with a bleak canvas of the fog drenched lowlands that lie in store for a mutinous Caledonia while both side’s fan clubs clap obediently on command and use the word ‘scaremongering’ a lot. Yup, pretty exciting stuff!

 

Still, at least there was a subtle variation to the formula as the usual question of ‘Will it be Salmond or will it be Sturgeon for the SNP’ was rendered moot by the debut appearance of John Swinney, head of all things monetary and economic in the Scottish Parliament. Now so far as I can tell, Swinney takes most of his cues from the classic Salmond playbook (which basically means promise everyone everything and move quickly when the details get irksome) and he mostly does ok on this front – except for one thing: He can’t do The Knowing Look.

 

To the uninitiated, the Knowing Look is the thing that makes Alex Salmond so special and it all seems so simple on paper – you make pledges that sound completely unobtainable but instead of just releasing them into the wild and hoping they make it to safety in one piece you send them on their way with a twinkle in your eye that says ‘I know. Everything I just said sounds completely mental but trust me, I’ve got this covered’ (and in fairness to Salmond he usually does have it covered – or at least partially clad). John Swinney’s problem is that despite having an air of general likability and making a decent fist of bigging up the positives in independence, he just looks a little skittish when the facts start getting awkward. Take the part when some of the questions regarding the White Paper were raised (i.e. where’s the money?): This is the sort of situation where Salmond flutters those ‘Trust me, this is so crazy it might just work’ eyelashes at the crowd and everyone ends up going along with it because it just feels right. Swinney on the other hand simply doesn’t have that magic and when things start getting tricky his eyes suddenly begin to dart about, the tempo increased and it all just felt a little – well – wrong. Was it a deal breaker? Not really but by the same token it wasn’t a case of unalloyed triumph either.

 

We nearly had a proper good fight in the No camp… Nearly…

So both Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale managed to set their tribal differences aside in the face of a common foe (no doubt aided by the main recipient of political woe this week being the absent Lib Dems) but it was a close run thing and there was a split second where it looked like it could all go very wrong. The pretext was about the recovery and both were bashing away at their party lines until their eyes met briefly then locked together for just a little too long, each set inviting the other to come and have a go if they think they’re hard enough. Alas it came to nothing but I reckon it would have been a good scrap as they’re both able panelists who are more than capable of fighting their own corners. Personally, my money would be on Davidson as I imagine being a kickboxing lesbian Scottish Tory involves quite a lot of standing up for yourself but I wouldn’t rule Kezia out either: For a QT first-timer she did well and she’s got a clear height advantage over Davidson. Anyway, it’s a shame it never came to pass but should either panelist feel like they need to satisfy their honour in the arena of single combat, I will more than happily officiate.

 

A Nearly Fight and some darting eyes? Is that it? Please tell me this gets better…

It does, thanks largely to Jim Sillars and not just because I couldn’t quite tell if he does genuinely believe that money grows on trees. No, while the impassioned tales of imperial decline and the zero tosses given about the Lord Rennard case were happy little affairs, I liked watching Jim because it reminded me that we used to have people like him in England – you know, authentic, unabashed socialists for whom politics is less of a game and more of an ache that they feel in their bones. I guess we still have a few of them kicking about – Dennis Skinner springs to mind – but most were either co-opted or quietly shuffled out of the spotlight by a Labour party that was desperate to impress the cool kids and couldn’t abide the thought of its cranky old uncles turning up at the disco. On the evidence of last night the reverse is true in Scotland as not only was Jim a hit with the crowd, the panel also showed him a great level of deference when it would have been very easy to dismiss him as a pedlar of last century’s monkeyshine. I’m into that. I’m into that almost as much as I’m into how Jim’s face looks like a blissed-out version of Alan Sugar’s (see Fig. 1).

 

jim-sillars-alan-sugar-gif

Fig. 1

Tl;dr

Swinney: 5/10

Slim

 

Davidson: 6/10

Prim

 

Dugdale: 6/10

Vim

 

Sillars: 7/10

(Full to the) Brim (of old school socialist thunder)

 

The Crowd: 6/10

(Would really help with the rhyming process if they were all called either) Jim, Tim (or) Kim…

 

Alright, so it wasn’t quite as dreary as I made out in the intro but still, I can’t say I’m in a terrible hurry to watch another Scottish independence episode, particularly if they’re going to run with the 4-on-the-panel format. But hey, what do I know?

 

Right, Norwich next week and you’ll pleased to know that I’ll still be in the dark on all current affairs thanks to Celebrity Big Brother being extended. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of CBB, remember how I said last week that one of the male contestants would end up pregnant? Well Lee Ryan from Blue ended up lactating last week. A coincidence? I think not…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

 

 


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