Thursday 21 January 2010


I read the excellent reports and observations from both Subrosa and Dean the Tory on First Minister’s Questions this week. Both made it clear that Iain Gray had been particularly pathetic this week, plumbing new depths for even him. So, ever eager for a laugh, I popped over to the BBC iplayer and watched the performance. All I can say is: you can always trust Subrosa and Dean to get it right.

Just because this is an independence and republican leaning blog, it does not mean that it does not take a serious view of the security of Scotland’s head of state. The question for debate today was mapping of footpaths close to the Queen’s private Scottish residence at Balmoral. It is reasonable that this question be investigated in the light of security issues; it is not right, of course, that the matter should simply be accepted without question.

Mr Gray, however, seems to have found that royal security is either close to his heart, or he imagines that it may do him some good electorally. And so, he wasted all his time at First Minister’s Questions on this subject. Just like nothing else of importance was happening in the country.

Mr Salmond, clearly forewarned that Mr Gray was likely to tackle the matter (having been on Radio this very morning talking about it), came to the chamber armed with all the facts of the matter and paperwork to support it. Rosanna Cunningham, the minister responsible, had done everything correctly. She had investigated the security concerns (not simply accepted them) and had ordered that offending footpaths not be mapped. Mr Salmond had the letters to prove it. It was an open and shut case. Most people would have retreated at this point, but Mr Gray went on and on asking the same question over and over again, and being humiliated more and more on each occasion.

Was he successful?
One way of judging a leader’s performance is the cheers and waving of paper, banging of desks and clapping of their supporters.... There was none for Gray. No one said a word, no one clapped, and no one banged on his desk. Faces were long. Gray was stuttering. On the other hand Mr Salmond was clapped and cheered. So, Salmond 5, Gray 0. Again!

Dean mentions the fact on his blog that the Government of Scotland deserves a decent opposition, and I would agree with that. But i would go further. The people of Scotland deserve a better opposition. This weekly display of amateur incompetence may make life easy for Alex, but it is an embarrassment for the people of Scotland. Gray should stand down and let a proper leader form a proper opposition.


  1. I agree, what an own goal for Iain and none of his MSPs in shot with him seemed to be paying any attention to him never mind agree with him. It was pointed out somewhere that after last weeks own goal by Goldie she was on the skids, how much more true is that for Grey?

  2. Yes Munguin. That's how it seems to me. There's no doubt whatever your politics that Mr Salmond is a formidable opponent, but I'd say he's not particularly confrontational.

    Take for example Jackie Baillie's question and Alex’s answer today. Both sensible, both civilised, both really what FMQ should be about..

    But if you mess with him, if you try to make political capital out of him, Salmond will crush you.

    He does this week after week with Gray, but today, after washing the floor with him, he did the walls and the ceiling too....

  3. I liked Joe Fitzpatrick's points on alcohol and minimum pricing which allowed Alex another shot across Labour's bows. It is a bit odd when policy coming from Labour in England is supporting the SNP against Labour in Scotland.

  4. I agree that Gray is a total embarassment.

    And we do have someone who today demonstrated her merit, and right to be treated as the real leader of the opposition in Holyrood. And today ,like or reject her point, she was articulate, responsible and [FINALLY] acting to her own agenda, fighting on a Scottish political issue.

    Lets all just not vote Labour, and have a Scotland of SNP, Tory and LibDem...maybe with the odd Green and SSP fighter. What you all say?

    Get Labour out 2010?

  5. Munguin:

    I did see Joe's questions. I'm proud he's a Dundee MP. As I've said before I have never thought that minimum pricing was the answer, but it seems that just about everyone else does. I'm prepared to admit that I may be wrong (how magnanimous). I take your point that it must have been another hammer blow for Gray, as Joe and Alex battered Gray with their and London Labour’s policy.

    He really looked sick

  6. Dean:

    I've been saying forever that Goldie is the only party leader worthy of being called the opposition. I think that on her good days she is quite simply awesome. She often asks sensible questions and Alex returns sensible answers.

    It would be a great idea if we could get rid of Labour from Scottish politics. It's a bit far fetched, but an agreeable thought none-the-less.

    Some more constructive opposition would be welcome.

  7. Even Jackie Baillie would be better. Perhaps not. :)

    Tris Annabel should give up, she was past her sell-by date about a year ago. Trouble is who would replace her. Her sidekick wouldn't do.

  8. Subrosa,

    Goldie is what I have always called her a simple superb interim leader. But then this rathr renforces your point, and I believe most Scottish Tories would agree with the substantive fact that she is no long term leader.

    But then, we discussed this last thread [I think]- two names can replace her, and only two stand out:

    Murdo Fraser -the hot favourate, has been title he 'young turk'.

    Derek Brownlee, a man making a strong name for himself.

    But at the moment there is no reason to get rid of Goldie, we are up strongly in the polling from the key marginals, and our average in Scotland is 18.6% as opposed to 15% we got last election. Given that since 1997 we have fallen even further backward, any forward mvement is hardly to be scoffed at by our rank and file.

    Goldie has done well, and she will do until she resigns- and it will be a time of her choosing, she has earned that much.

  9. Looking at what Labour have as possibilities, Subrosa, I would have said Jackie Baillie might well be a potential leader.

    Jack, having his hopes of joining the diplomatic corps dashed, may decide to comeback... The rest of them are by and large dead wood.

    However, after a large number get booted out of Westminster in a few months, who knows who may decide to offer their services to what they will doubtless consider a lesser parliament, but which they can get into relatively easily by being at the top of, or near the top of, the list.

    I still like Annabel. I may be one of a dwindling band, but I think she's the best they have. It's maybe because she reminds me of Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple.....

  10. Dean. Fair points. I leave SR to reply, as it was directed to her....

  11. Feel free to comment Tris, it is your blog!

  12. I just think you make fair points Dean. If you are up in polling by a realistic amount it doesn't seem unreasonable to keep your leader.

    You have to ask how much more you could expect to win with one of the others, or if in fact their performances would not be good enough to sustain your present polling... possibly even losing you points.

    My feelings about Goldie are repeated on many occasions through the blog, and on others. I think she's good, smart, likeable, realistic (and like Ms Rutherford too). What more could you want?