Last night STV broadcast the 2019 edition of the Let’s All Shout Loudly Over the Top of One Another About Devolved Issues in a Westminster General Election Show. It featured three British nationalists who’re not nationalists at all because they’re British, and Nicola Sturgeon. It was perfectly balanced on Scotland’s constitutional issue in the three to one against way that such discussions always are in the media of a country which is split 50-50 on the topic of independence. For some reason best known to the STV management team, the Greens weren’t invited. Perhaps because that would have made it three to two for the opponents of independence, and that would have been unfair. After all, the one was Nicola Sturgeon, and she can generally wipe the floor with the rest of them unassisted. And so it came to pass.
Nicola Sturgeon scored an early goal by saying, “Gentlemen, the difference between me and all of you, is that none of you think the people of Scotland should decide their constitutional future.” But the gentlemen were more like a rabble, a wee gang of bullies taking on the girly swot and having their arses handed to them.
As expected, it wasn’t very edifying. Wullie Rennie spent most of the debate saying that he couldn’t believe that he was being asked these questions. He did know that he was coming to a debate didn’t he? That’s the thing about Wullie Rennie, in his case that’s a reasonable question to ask and isn’t just rhetorical. He only had two settings, expressing disbelief that he was being asked a question, and demanding to know whether the other party leaders were embarrassed. Although no one is ever going to be as embarrassing as Jo Swinson’s performance in the last few UK debates. She wasn’t there this evening, staying at home in the leafy Home Counties to spend more time with her red face. After this evening’s performance she’s about to be joined by Wullie.
Wullie did manage to find time to read out some of Boris Johnson’s comments and ask Jackson Carlaw if he was embarrassed by them. This time Wullie was actually asking about something that any decent person with a functioning sense of morality should have been embarrassed by. Unfortunately he was asking a Tory politician.
Boris Johnson has published comments like comparing muslim women to bank robbers and letterboxes, racist language, the things he’s said about single mothers. These are comments which have appeared in print in publications which are proof-read and edited. They’re not off the cuff remarks made in the pub when you’re pissed. These comments are deliberate and considered. And there’s a lot to be embarrassed by. Jackson replied that a lot of politicians have said embarrassing things, although I’m struggling to think of another party leader who has referred to African children as “piccanninies” or who has called gay men “bum boys”. Maybe one of the leaders of one of those crazy and nastily unpleasant parties on the extreme right. Oh wait. There’s Jackson’s problem right there. But Jackson wasn’t embarrassed, because he’s a Tory. The essential qualification for becoming a Conservative politician is to have an operation, in a private hospital of course, to get your sense of shame surgically removed.
God, watching Rupert Landlubber in action is like watching a walrus go ballet dancing. Jackson Carlaw asked him why it was that former Labour MP Tom Harris is now voting Conservative. Reinhard was too polite, or more likely to slow on his feet, to give him the correct answer, which is “because Tom Harris is a bit of an arse.” Although he did point out that the leave supporting Tom is a columnist for the Telegraph. For Tom to say that he’s backing Jeremy Corbyn would do as much for his job prospects as it would be for Arlene Foster to announce that she was standing for election as the President of the Irish Republic. He was totally blindsided when Nicola Sturgeon asked him if he was the only CND member who supported spending £200 billion on Trident. That was a nuclear level burn there.
Dunno what Colin MacKay is doing here. He’d be as well nipping out for a cuppa and a wee sit down for all the effect he’s having in keeping this discussion on track. He’s making no attempts at all to control the shouty men. Three men yelling over the top of a woman is really not a good look guys. And the woman is the only one there who is making a serious attempt to answer the questions put to her instead of indulging in grandstanding and cheap point scoring.
Then we had the edifying moment when Jackson Carlaw demanded that Nicola Sturgeon explain what her priorities were when it came to sorting out the issues with the NHS in Scotland. In the face of constant interruptions she tried to explain that the job of First Minister means tackling several issues simultaneously, and did point out that the experience of being First Minister was one that Jackson was unlikely to ever get. Has the man never heard of multitasking? I’m guessing not. Then as she’s trying to explain what she’s proposing to do and is actually doing about the issues with hospitals Jackson said that her priority after the election is to demand a Section 30 order and then tried to get her to stop talking about the NHS so that he could accuse her again of being obsessed with independence. Seems that the person most obsessed with independence is Jackson. He’d much rather talk about independence in case people ask him about his leader’s racism and homophobia, or about the disaster of the Brexit that he wants to foist on Scotland, or his arrogant contempt for the concept of Scottish democracy.
In the closing statements Jackson Carlaw growls at the camera and exhorts the voters to Scotland to “tell her again” with more than a hint of aggressive gammonry. That doesn’t come across as misogynistic at all Jackson. Not even slightly. Sure thing Jackson, we’ll be so much better with your party’s austerity, child poverty, dark money, xenophobia and British empire nostalgia in the sunny uplands of a post-Brexit Britain as we trudge our way to the food banks. Nicola Sturgeon isn’t listening you say? You represent a party which was almost wiped out in 2015, which got hammered in 2016, whose much vaunted recovery in 2017 saw it take just 13 of Scotland’s 56 Westminster seats, and which slumped to a pathetic 11.6% of the vote in the Euro election of 2019. At every election for decades, Scotland has rejected the Conservatives. Tell me again who’s not listening.
Nicola Sturgeon had it perfectly right in her summing up. Scotland can’t afford a Johnson premiership with Trump pulling his strings. More than that Scotland can’t afford a hard Brexit. Scotland can’t afford to have its democracy traduced and trashed.
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