"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."

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sky Scotland Debate

Alex Salmond, First Minister and leader of the SNP, went head-to-head with Jim Murphy, Labour's Secretary of State for Scotland, Conservative shadow Secretary of State David Mundell and LibDem Scotland spokesman Alistair Carmichael.

The debate was hosted by Adam Boulton and followed the format of the Welsh Leaders' Debates last week in that audience reaction was allowed and there were advert breaks, unlike the UK Leaders' Debates. Since I know next to nothing about Scottish politics beyond the fact that there's an awful lot of Labour voters up there, I'll leave the analysis to someone else but a few things did stand out.

The first question came from a GP who immigrated to Glasgow eight years ago and concerned immigration, support for the families of immigrants and benefits.  He said that because he paid taxes he was of more worth to the economy "than whites..." who claim benefits.  I'm sure his premise is right but it was the strange way in which he framed it - he obviously doesn't believe in political correctness.

When discussing the economy (2nd question) and whether Scotland would have fared better as an independent country Norway was cited by Salmond as an example of what could be achieved. What he failed to mention was that Norway is not in the EU and none of the others picked him up on it.  I still don't know how the SNP sees an independent Scotland sitting in the EU.

The statement that made me see red came, unsurprisingly, from Murphy. It was in response to the question, "Is it right that Westminster MPs from Scotland and Wales should be allowed to vote on issues and laws that are only going to affect England?" "I think we've got an imperfect Constitution, we have devolution across the United Kingdom with different voting rights across the four nations so I think it's right we maintain what we have at the moment. But we do need to change our Constitution - the House of Lords being elected, votes at sixteen and so much else beside but I would retain the current system of equal members of parliament across the United Kingdom."  Muppet.  Perhaps someone will clarify today that he 'mis-spoke'.

A question about the erosion of civil liberties threw up some interesting answers - only Murphy was in favour of not only maintaining the status quo but also extending it further:  "We have the technol... er... ability and the innovation in this DNA databasing to go further and I'm just very clear, and the Labour Party is very clear, that we have this know-how and we should deploy it..." 

Murphy floundered throughout the debate; he's an ineffectual charlatan who trades on his Scottish and Irish roots when it suits him to do so and he's nothing more than a cadaverous spin merchant who churns out softly-spoken Party platitudes trying to defend the indefensible.

For what it's worth I thought Salmond and Mundell came off best in terms of audience reaction but Carmichael was quite effective too and showed most strongly when talking about Iraq.  Murphy was on a hiding to nothing.

This is the only video I've been able to find so far - just three minutes out of ninety:

Here's a link to the section on civil liberties and the closing statements

More info at:
SNP News
The Times
The SNP's legal challenge


  1. I couldn't watch the debate because the BBC hasn't got round to making digital watchable in my area, but I've read much about it.

    Your analysis of Murphy was spot on. If you've heard him once you know all that he is going to say, regardless of the questions, and it's said in that patronising way. I watched him later on BBC (analogue) where he was up against Mundell again but this time with Malcolm Bruce and Stuart Hosie.

    Murphy always prefers to answer the question he wishes he had been asked rather than the one he was asked.

    In my opinion, politics aside, David Mundell is lost in company of that kind. He is a town councillor, nothing more. No wonder Cameron excludes him from talks on Scotland. If there is any choice at all he should not be Scotland Viceroy after the elections.

    In the same way that Jim is cadaverous, Mundell looks like a wee pig. He also misjudged the audience. They were not up for party point making, and to his credit Murphy saw that and tried to tone it down a bit. Mundell carried straight on with the script, because, as I said, he’s a town councillor. It was the script he’d learned or it was nothing.

    Some might say it was brave of them to do two in the same day. I’d say why? They said the same things in the two performances regardless of what they were asked.

    Incidentally both Stuart Hosie and Malcolm Bruce shone by comparison.

    A propos the EU and Scotland, I’d point out that an independent Scotland would have to decide on which organisations it would apply to join, or of which to retain membership... or not.

    What Alex Salmond says is not particularly relevant in this matter. He might take the country to independence, but he would not necessarily be in government afterwards. Besides, I would imagine the constitution and memberships of things as important as the EU would be referenda matters.

    Great post. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your input Tris - much appreciated. I'll take your comments about Mundell at face value since you're in a better position than I am to judge - it's the first time I've seen him whereas you've seen him operate long-term.

    One thing Scottish independence throws up, possibly, is that it's the UK that's signed up to the EU. If Scotland becomes independent of the UK, the UK ceases to exist in its current form and so all EU treaties would be null and void. The four countries previously known as the UK would therefore have to re-negotiate their separate relationships with the EU. Sorry, just thinking out loud again, but it seems like one possible outcome to me.

    I've still had no luck tracking down videos of the full debate but will keep an eye open.


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