Friday, February 19, 2021

Will Michelle Ballantyne be included in the TV leaders' debates?

Five years ago, BBC Scotland included David Coburn of UKIP in their TV leaders' debate for the Holyrood election (with predictably comic results), but STV did not.  The BBC's logic was that UKIP had performed sufficiently well in one of the four tiers of electoral representation, ie. Coburn's own success in being elected to the European Parliament.  On the face of it, the same logic applies to Reform UK now, because in its previous guise as the Brexit Party, it won one Scottish seat in the 2019 European election.  But this is almost a philosophical point: as Scottish representation in the European Parliament has now been abolished, and as the Brexit Party itself agitated for that to happen, shouldn't the Euro result be set aside when deciding how much airtime is warranted for each party?  I'd suggest that maybe yes, it should be.  But if it isn't, we'll have the 'interesting' spectacle of Michelle Ballantyne squaring up against Nicola Sturgeon, Douglas Ross (or Ruth Davidson if Ross is conveniently required to run the line at another vital Cove Rangers v Montrose fixture), #WinningWithWillie Rennie, and probably Anas Sarwar.

And I think that would actually be quite a good outcome for us, because the more exposure Reform UK gets, the more likely they are to take votes off the Tories.  I'm not for a moment suggesting that the SNP are immune to losing votes in that direction (Ballantyne will presumably be punting the anti-lockdown message, which finds support in some strange places), but I think it's fair to say that the Tories would be the net losers.

The other outside possibility is that Alex Salmond might be involved in the debates, if he decides to stand.  I know people are arguing that any chance of him setting up a new party have already been timed out, but there are still options open to him, such as joining forces with one of the small pro-indy parties already registered with the Electoral Commission.  If, for the sake of argument, a Salmond party burst onto the scene in a blaze of publicity and shot to 10% in the polls, would the BBC or STV give him a spot in the debates? Their normal instinct would be to find any reason to avoid having an extra pro-indy voice, but in this case I wonder if they might be just be tempted by the box office potential of Sturgeon v Salmond.

*  *  *

The above is practically the quintessential Kenny "Devo or Death" Farquharson tweet, in the sense that it's wrong in almost every respect.  A Wings party would not have been a major electoral force - it most likely would have attracted somewhere between 0.1% and 2% of the list vote, which wouldn't have been enough to win any seats, but might have been enough to do real damage to the pro-indy cause by taking votes away from larger parties.

But neither is it true to say that Mr Campbell "blew it".  He had the capacity to set up a new party, but he freely chose not to.  I suspect Kenny is trying to get a narrative going that "Stuart Campbell blew his chances by being beastly to my mate Neil Mackay" - well, that's about as well-founded as his legendary prediction that Kezia Dugdale would be the next First Minister.  (There's still hope, Kenny! Ian Smart says she's an SNP sleeper agent, so maybe she'll make a comeback that way!)

The interesting question now is which fringe party Wings is planning to back in the election.  We can safely assume he'll be openly hostile to the SNP, which presumably means he'll be supporting either ISP or AFI.  My guess is he'll plump for ISP, if only because they share his preoccupation with the trans issue.


  1. I think the Alex Salmond Show is only going to be seen on RT, he's had his kick at the political football, and he didn't score the winning goal, he's been subbed now and won't be getting another shottie.

    It would however be good to see StuAnon on the telly in a lively debate on the pros and cons of an Independent Scotland, his replies to some awkward questioning would be very entertaining, with GTF and GFY getting an airing.

    Good to see the life blood of Scottish fitba get a mention tho, at the game Cove v Montrose earlier this season the Mighty Mo emerged as victors, 2-1 the final score. COYMo.

    1. Sturgeons Rangers won't even be starting the match never mind score a winning goal. The fanboys and fangirls will eventually get pissed off and the Sturgeon Rangers will go bust.

  2. Wings says doesn't want to live with 'cowardly' Scots, preferring to live in England / with the 'Brave' brexit voting English (I understand he didn't oppose brexit).

    He'd need to actually come live with us cowardly yes voters if he wanted to start a party here, leaving behind his beloved warm beer gardens so you can be sure he's not going to.

    1. It's nice to see such pro-independence positivity on your comment and that of Please Release Me above. So we know that collectively you don't like Alex Salmond and Wings, but do either of you have anything to say that would advance any debate, or will you just keep being silly?

    2. Those are Campbell's words, not mine and why, in response to the discussion of this topic above, I've said I doubt he actually ever had any interest in leaving England to come to Scotland, as would really be required to start a party here. We've enough parties run from the south of England as it is.

      I don't believe I've ever said I didn't like Salmond. Quite the contrary in fact. I've often said I preferred his style to Sturgeon. Maybe check facts before posting.

      I have said I do think Salmond is starting to damage any chance of a comeback right now, and having read his submissions, that view has been reinforced. Certainly those that claim to be his supporters are doing everything they can to damage his reputation.

      Voters have no time for power struggles and personal vendettas. The want a positive vision as you say.

      Which, incidentally, definitely discounts Wings.

    3. The thing about Smearer Skiers (liar since 2014) posts are that:

      1. he displays an unhealthy obsession with Campbell.

      2. He never actually says what Campbell gets wrong or lies in any of Campbell's posts. Just the same old retread he lives in Bath and called Scots cowards. Unusual for Smearer in that he is actually telling the truth in that statement.

      3. Smearer says he has read Salmonds submissions but makes no comment on where Salmond is wrong.

      4. Smearer regularly smeared Salmond in previous posts. He is back to lying again.

      5. One minute Smearer is claiming Salmond had no intention of making a comeback and therefore why would Sturgeon attack him. In the post above he says " Salmond is starting to damage any chance of a comeback right now". What a charlatan Smearer is. Not aware of Salmond ever expressing a desire for a comeback.

      6. The personal vendetta has been carried out by Sturgeon and her gang. Salmond did not set up the Inquiry. Salmond did not make the referral to James Hamilton. Who kicked all this off - Sturgeon and her gang.

      7. There can be no positive vision from a leadership that carries out this type of wrongdoing and encourages others to collude in a cover up. That's you Smearer.

      In summary, Smearer is a liar and a charlatan.

    4. Hi stalker.

      James writes about Campbell in his article. I thought campbell's blog was 'popular' so might be commented on? If nobody reads it then yes, it would be odd to discuss it a lot.

      It was you guys that have claimed Salmond was wanting to make a comeback as you needed to invent a motive for the grand conspiracy needed to 'drain the swamp'*. If you are right, he's screwing it up IMO. I am disappointed in this yes. I did prefer him as FM to Sturgeon.

      First thing I looked for in his submission was honesty about his 30 year close personal friendship with Sturgeon. It wasn't there. She talked about it, he didn't. He'll likely get roasted for that when questioned as it blows a lot of holes in his submission. Unionists will be all over it as they are certainly not his friends. I think he made a big mistake here.

      My guess is you have never held any sort of senior position so don't understand what a conflict of interest is and how you must declare such things. It totally changes the rules in such professional situations.

      That is how Sturgeon will be judged. Before judging on the ministerial code the standards advisor will need to be sure it applied and there were no conflicts of interest preventing that, such as if Salmond was a close friend of the FM....

      That doesn't mean she hasn't done something against the code, but if she has, it's likely a result of her initially trying to help Salmond as a friend, which was wrong in her role as FM. That takes us back to the accusations of her colluding with him to get him off the hook.


      I don’t want to live in the most gutless country in the world

      He [Campell] talks of the potential for the Wings party to pick up on the anti-politician, anti-elite feeling that is sweeping western democracies. There is an opportunity there for someone able to mobilise a restless and disgruntled section of Scottish nationalist opinion, and he knows it.

      UKIP, MAGA, Front Nationale, Alternative for Germany...

    5. Smearer Skier (liar since 2014) - lying again. Not once have I ever said Salmond wants to make a comeback.

      Your guess just like your lying sucks. A rock basher telling lies and smearing people talking about ethics what a sad person you are.

      Not content with referencing the BBC and Telegraph etc you are now introducing right wing scum as a referendum source.

      Smearer you are a disgrace to the independence movement.

    6. So there is zero motive for any conspiracy, thus there is no conspiracy. And around we go in circles.

      And why on earth do you feel the need to insult yes voters (geologists)? Scotland has produced some of the most famous geologists and has some of the best geology in the world, from the moine thrust to incredible dinosaur fossils. Real Scots know who e.g. James Hutton was; the father of modern geology. And who the f**k do you think it was that found the black gold kilometers under the sea? It wasn't armchair conspiracy theorists that constantly insult people, that's for sure.

    7. Aw didums poor Smearer Skier ( liar since 2014) is upset. Smearer you always claim it doesn't bother you - lying again Smearer. I know who Hutton was. Also my wife did geology and still has her hammer. I've mentioned this before but since you are a really, really bad reader and/or have a poor memory it seems to escape you. Did you drop your hammer on your head again.

      I hope to goodness that you don't use that silly logic about motives in your rock bashing.

      I can just see a Taggart episode with someone like you in it. Taggart sees a guy with a knife sticking out his back lying dead and says "thurs been a murda" silly assistant with a glaickit looks says " naw We don't have a motive".

      You are the one going around in circles - and that's what happens to people who lie and try to cover it up with more lies.

      Smearer you are a disgrace to the independence movement.

      Forthcoming attraction - I think I will have to do a post about possible motives.

    8. Smearer Skier (liar since 2014) - you are Ian Stewart and I claim my prize a copy of your book Ian's tips on how to lie.

    9. In fact, we don't have any crime of any nature. If there was a crime, the police would be investigating it. No crime and no motive for a crime.

    10. Silly assistant with glaickit look says no motive therefore no crime. Silly assistant says " haud oan a min that's wrang it's no crime therefore no motive". " Aw f**k I dinny have a clue" says glaickit aassistant.

  3. If you don't agree with me take the High Road Campbell. Going wild Salmond. Nicola I can't remember. This could be a lot of fun. Brilliant

  4. Why Not James?

    I will not lose any sleep over the anti Scottish anti Indy Fascist vote splitting. Of course how are they going to win any votes standing on a lets kill NHS workers platform and manifesto commitment. I guess there might be some Brexit voting White Settlers who will vote for that though.

  5. Julia: Comment deleted - you could have expressed that point much more constructively and I would have left it up, but as I've said again and again and again, I'm not going to have people lecturing me in the comments section about what I can and can't blog about.

  6. Do you think the act of union was signed when it was raining. Sometimes I think I would sign anything if someone was promising me better days. Give us a break with the Scottish weather.

    1. Hehe - there's was one Treaty of Union and two Acts of Union and I suspect all the signing was carried out indoors.

  7. If Ballantyne is involved it will end up like a horror movie mashed up with a car crash movie.

    Perhaps Smart meant to say in his tweet Dugdale was sleeping with an SNP agent.

  8. Great, my SNP list ballot has arrived.

    1. What a great list of honest, hard working, pro-indy candidates. That was really difficult to rank.

      Really disgusts me when unionists attack these decent people as part of some 'grand corrupt conspiracy'.

      It's particularly galling when people pretend to be on the side of e.g. Joan McAlpine then refuse to join the SNP to vote for her as a candidate while telling people not to vote for her on the list.

  9. Ballantyne's inclusion could only be justified from a Unionist point of view.
    The more anti-indy leaders the better from their perspective.
    Because ReformUK is pretty much a retread of Brexit/Ukip is too much of a stretch for me.
    They shouldn't appear on the leaders debates unless AFI and IFS do too.
    That would give +1 to the Indy side.
    That's why it won't happen IMO.

  10. LOL.

    Indyref2: Oliver Lewis quits as head of Downing Street's Union Unit

    DOWNING Street’s Union Unit has lost its second boss in less than a month.

    Oliver “Sonic” Lewis unexpectedly quit the post on Friday, with reports suggesting he felt his position was being made “untenable” by others in No 10.

    The resignation comes just two weeks after former Scottish Tory MP Luke Graham was ousted from the position.

  11. Now that Sturgeon has taken the secret 11 point plan out of her handbag there is room for Sandy Brindley in there so she can be brought out when needed.