I was somewhat flabbergasted, to put it mildly, to see Hamish Macdonell in the Caledonian Mercury declare Jim Murphy the winner of the STV election debate, albeit very narrowly. I left this comment, which for the time being is stuck in moderation -
I keep trying to think what Jim Murphy reminds me of, and I think perhaps it’s a particularly creepy Jackanory storyteller – “But because of everything that happened, people started to get Iraq and Afghanistan mixed up, and that wasn’t a good thing, children”.
The Great Divide in Scottish public opinion is between those who think that approach is insufferably patronising and insincere, and those who inexplicably don’t, and you’d really have to be on the latter side of that divide to think Murphy won the debate – even on points.
I was pleasantly surprised by Carmichael, but for me Angus Robertson was the clear winner.
The most amusing moment came when Murphy thought he had scored a clear hit by seizing a convenient opportunity to slot in a pre-prepared piece of synthetic anger towards Angus Robertson, delivered in his trademark holier-than-thou tone - "let's not hear any more about 'London parties', I think all of us here tonight are Scottish patriots". He must have been purring with pleasure just seconds later when an irate member of the audience appeared to also pile in on Robertson, pointing out that this is a "British general election, and you're a Scottish National". It later transpired, however, that the supposed 'Scottish National' being taken to task was not in fact Robertson, but Murphy himself! The Scottish Secretary spluttered with indignation, but the retort was instant - "you've just been telling us how Scottish you are". The logic was inescapable and devastating. Murphy couldn't have sounded more pompous when the only objection he could muster was "he [Robertson] is the nationalist, I'm the patriot". The price of trying to have your cake and eat it once too often.
Does Murphy genuinely think that Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems are Scottish parties, no different from the SNP? Or does he instead think they have some kind of special additional 'British' status that doesn't apply to the SNP which, to give an example completely off the top of my head, entitles them to hours and hours of bonus TV coverage in debates to which only they are invited? If it's the latter (and it can only be the latter), it's hard to see how he can credibly complain about Robertson drawing that clear distinction between the SNP and the others - preciously feigning mortal offence at the exact choice of terminology really isn't going to wash.
Carmichael's finest moment was when he took Murphy and Mundell to task over their arrogance and presumptuousness in telling the electorate the only choice was between Brown or Cameron, and that a vote for anyone else was a wasted vote. Just a pity he couldn't spot the overwhelming irony in then insisting "there are three choices here" in the middle of a debate involving four parties.