"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Thursday, 21 January 2010

First Ministers Questions, Scottish Parliament, 21 January 2010

Woeful, just woeful. I refer to the performance of Iain Gray, the leader of labour MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. His three questions centred on two paths which are part of the Cairngorm National Park but are close to the Balmoral estate. Mr Gray suggested the issue of whether the paths be noted on a map of the Park had been incorrectly handled.

The First Minister, in in his responses, robustly wiped the floor with Mr Gray who, for some strange reason, didn't seem to understand that after his first question was answered fully and succinctly he should change tack. He didn't and continued to dig himself into such a hole that he became the laughing stock of the whole chamber, other than his colleagues who, if you do watch the replay, displayed faces of incredulity.

As Mr Gray had also been on BBC radio Scotland this morning discussing the same subject and one which the Home Office had advised was a security issue concerning the royal family, Mr Salmond has asked the Home Office to investigate the leak of the security information.

Can I suggest if you want to see incompetence from the Scottish labour leader, please watch the first ten minutes of the replay. It shows, if nothing else, how inadequate and ineffectual the opposition is within the Scottish parliament and that is not good for our democracy.

Ms Goldie questioned the FM on walk-in surgeries. She appeared to be striving to push Scotland down the NHS privatisation route which England is speedily following. The FM was having none of it but one interesting fact did emerge from the exchange. Yesterday there was a report earlier this week from the Nuffield Institute which did a comparison study of the NHS is the 4 areas of the UK. The study was compiled on figures from 2006 and the Nuffield has now confessed they over-calculated the number of doctors in Scotland by 27%.Makes me wonder if any report is worth the paper it's written on these days.

The Libdem leader, Tavish Scott, in electioneering mode like the tories, asked about cutting the pay of top public service earners. Alex Salmond was quick to say he agreed with the principle but, as many of the contracts had been drawn up by the previous administration in which Mr Scott had been a minister, he would have difficulty enforcing them.

Jackie Baillie, the labour Health spokesperson, suggested the Scottish government were being slow to address any additional funding to the Thalidomide Association given that England had promised an extra £27m last week. The FM will discuss, with the Thalidomide Association, the needs of those affected by this tragic medical blunder and make extra funding available on a pro-rata basis with England.

That was FMQs for today. Many people would not believe Scottish labour could fall much further but they did and the Tories along with the LibDems are now obviously in full election mode. If you wish to watch it the programme is available on HolyroodTV and will also be available shortly on the BBC iPlayer. Do watch for the first 10 minutes or so and see the skill of a top-class politician and one I will gratuitously call second-rate.


  1. Now you know why Brown, Cameron and Clegg do NOT Salmond on the same debating floor as theselves.

    He would wipe the floor with them all, individually and collectively.

    Just follow the link to the Holyrood TV video and watch Iain Gray being rubbished and, if had any self respect, totally humiliated.

    Now if Salmond had been in charge of the Tories at Westminster, Brown would be long since demissioned, perhaps defenestrated as well.

  2. Thanks for that SR - it's interesting to see them in action. Speaking as an outsider I think Goldie beat Gray hands-down - I've rarely seen anyone so boorish and graceless (except, perhaps, Gordon Brown).

  3. Aha GV!

    You only like Goldie because she speaks wae a ploom in her mooth!

    he was talking tosh though.

    Normally she is much better but it is very obvious that she is being told what to say, what lines to follow by Pravda Central. She has to be on message and cannot be allowed to interpret or think for herself except as how to follow the Party line.

    DC = TB mark II


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