Monday, May 3, 2010

Salmond wins the best debate

It has to be said my own immediate impression of the TV debates during this campaign hasn't always borne a lot of relation to the 'definitive' version of events I've read in the newspapers the following morning. But, for what it's worth, I thought last night's was by some distance the best of all the debates (UK or Scottish), with an electric atmosphere, an air of spontaneity, and a moderator who was not only empowered by the rules to hold the combatants to account, but actually did so very effectively. Indeed, Glenn Campbell said a couple of things out loud that I've been waiting for someone to point out for weeks now. Firstly, that the supposed 'right to sack MPs' is being massively oversold, as it will seemingly only apply when an MP has explicitly been found guilty of wrongdoing by the parliamentary authorities, which won't be very often. Secondly, that the Liberal Democrats cannot credibly claim to be a 'new' party, when via their predecessor party the Liberals they've actually been around for longer than Labour, and just as long as the Tories. The SNP were in fact the youngest party involved last night, although even they go back all the way to 1928!

My other strong impression was that Alex Salmond emerged as the clear winner, with Alistair Carmichael failing to sparkle quite as much as he had in the two previous debates, and David Mundell once again living down to expectations. It's much harder to meaningfully assess Jim Murphy's performance, as I've always felt that he's a wooden, transparently insincere debater - and yet Hamish Macdonell somehow felt able to score him the narrow winner of the first STV debate. Evidently there's something I'm missing, and I missed it again last night. But at least Murphy resisted the temptation to tell us yet again about how "as a Scottish patriot, and as a Murphy, it gives me no pleasure to have to say that Ireland is very nearly as rubbish at governing itself as Scotland would be". Perhaps he's happy to give someone else a shot at being the toast of Dublin.

One mildly encouraging point is that, to my surprise, a couple of my (non-political) relatives were just as keen to catch this debate as they had been for the UK one on Thursday. Given that it received only a tiny fraction of the hype, I was amazed they even knew it was on.


No wonder Ieuan Wyn Jones looked utterly baffled when Richard Bacon asked him on BBC3 whether the English or the "French Celts" were the more natural allies for Wales. Would that be the Bretons you're talking about, by any chance, Richard?


  1. Yes, it was good viewing, although when it came to the end I couldn't help feeling that all I'd seen was a Scottish take on English election issues. For instance, why was immigration even brought up, apart from giving Alex a great opportunity to give a truly alternative stance to the rest? And where was the discussion about the Calman Commission, which I (apparently wrongly) assumed would be a big issue for Scots in this election?

    Also, where were all the leaders in this "Leader's Debate"? Something I've had a wee moan about in my own blog. Dunno about anyone else, but all I saw was one leader and three jokers.

  2. Yes, Doug, that would have been the obvious retort when Murphy came out with the "what-are-you-doing-here-you're-not-even-a-candidate" line. What were the other three doing there?