Friday, July 9, 2010

Dimbleby and Dougie - grrrr

Without doubt one of the more infuriating editions of Question Time I've seen in recent times. For starters, what exactly was David Dimbleby's problem? Firstly, he goads Nicola Sturgeon in an utterly peculiar way about the high level of interest that a Scottish audience is taking in the misfortunes of a cabinet minister whose writ only runs in England. Well, at a rough guess, could that possibly be because the London media that Dimbleby is part of is hellbent on perpetuating the fiction of British political uniformity, thus leaving much of its Scottish audience utterly uninformed about the limits of the UK government's authority north of the border? You know, "Prime Ministerial Debates", that sort of thing?

Then at the end of the show he seemed to have a rather enormous bee in his bonnet about the suggestions that there was any problem at all with holding two ballots on the same day next May. Even after Sturgeon explained very clearly the background of the Gould Report, he was still determined to look tickled by the whole thing, citing the routine American practice of holding multiple ballots for a plethora of exotically unimportant posts. Well, I've a feeling I have a slight advantage over Dimbleby on that point - as I've mentioned before, I have dual US/UK nationality, meaning I'm entitled to vote in certain US elections. And I can tell him that even filling out the mammoth ballot form in the comfort of my own home has literally taken me two hours on occasions. Bearing that in mind, can he truly say with a straight face that combining ballots has no impact whatsoever on the democratic process? But as I pointed out a couple of days ago, the real problem in this instance will not be in the polling stations, it will be in the impact on the Holyrood campaign, and it was frustrating that none of the panellists zoned in on that far more important aspect of the issue.

Now, then - Wee Dougie. Can ever a man have been so brazen? The chaos in the 2007 elections was caused by "the Scottish government's decision to hold the local council elections on the same day", was it? Nothing to do with Alexander's own boneheaded determination to a) use a single ballot paper, and b) rely on an untested electronic counting method, despite countless warnings of the risks? And, of course, we can safely assume the reference to the "Scottish government" was in any case a cynical attempt to sow confusion in the viewing public's minds and associate the ill-fated decisions with the SNP, when in fact the devolved administration at the time was run by a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition!

And all that's before we even come to his soothing words about how he's not going to be "party political" over the Megrahi issue and will approach the matter "rather differently". A refreshingly mature approach, undoubtedly - or at least it would have been if he hadn't proceeded to do the exact opposite. A year on, I must say I'm still struggling to work out exactly how the flying of flags in a Tripoli airport was in any way the SNP's doing. More the Foreign Office's province, surely, Dougie?

Incidentally, in spite of what Nicola Sturgeon had to say, I think it's high time there was an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie case - just a very, very different one from what the US senators have in mind.


  1. His gracious Lord Forsyth is a stunning hypocrite. He was Minister of State for Scotland in the Tory government of John Major which allowed the release of one Ernest Saunders. You will all remember him as the convicted fraudster, one of the Guinness four who made a shed load of money in the 1980s through dubious financial dealings and was sent to clink for 5 years for it. However that is not his main claim to fame, that rather comes in the fact that he made medical history by being the first and only person ever to recover from Alzheimers, a condition he was diagnosed as having while in prison and which on medical evidence supplied at that time was deemed to be incurable. So he was released by a Tory Home Secretary after only serving ten months. But guess what he made a medically unbelievable full recovery and has so far lasted 19 years. At least Mr Meghrahi is having the decency to actually die even if the best medical treatment that Colonel Ghadaffi could buy did lengthen his life by months.

  2. Having watched Lord F again I was sufficiently incensed to cannibalize the above comment into a whole post. I hope you don’t mind.

  3. Not at all, Munguin - I must admit I didn't know about the Tories and Saunders (or if I did know at one point I'd completely forgotten).