The Steamie

Friday, 26 March 2010

Eddie Barnes: Salmond having his cake and eating it

Watching BBC's Question Time, broadcast from Glasgow last night, was to marvel once again at Alex Salmond's ability to have it both ways. The First Minister was (no disrespect to Chief Secretary fo the Treasury Liam Byrne) easily the most influential minister on the panel; he is, after all, the First Minister of Scotland. But he did not have to answer a single question about his policies and record in office - not a single one. Instead, he was able to enjoy his usual role as the dis-interested pundit, jovily prodding and mocking the Tory and Labour parties.

He also used the show to make his case against the Prime Ministerial debates, to be shown on the BBC, ITV and Sky during the election campaign. And it's a good case, helped by the fact that these debates are a constitutional anomaly; a Presidential TV show awkwardly stuck onto our own constituency-based electoral system. Salmond made some fair and justified points about how much of the debates, for Scots and Welsh voters, will be entirely meaningless - for example, when Brown, Cameron and Clegg start discussing all their policies on health and education.

In other words, he had it both ways. Salmond used the fact that last night's programme was UK-wide to get away with not answering any questions about his own record - after all the BBC knows that to start asking the Scottish First Minister about his policy on local income tax, or class sizes, is irrelevent to the 90% of viewers from outside Scotland. But, at the same time, when the BBC decides to focus on those 90% of viewers (by going ahead with their TV debate) he was up in arms, complaining about bias and unfairness. Brilliant!

I do hope that Mr Salmond will at least take part in the Scottish TV debates which are also to be broadcast in the coming few weeks. If he were to take part in those, where - let us hope - his own record and policies might come under some light scrutiny, it would make it slightly easier to watch him having his cake and eating it.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Tormod said...

I think Alex Salmond would have love to debate his record in Scotland.

It is not his fault that the questions the BBC chose did not touch on Scottish issues.

What about the midden in GCC?

The questions were picked for the consumption of middle England.

Also the question about the debates was quickly side stepped.

Why doesn't a Scottish newspaper ask the broadcasters why these debates are in England only?

26 March 2010 11:42  
Blogger Dubbieside said...

Dear me, Salmond did not answer questions on his record in Government. Maybe if the BBC could get away from their obsession that the only government is an English one based in Westminster some questions on the SNP government might have been allowed.

Interesting that both Labour and the Lib Dems both said that the sham Prime Minister debates could only be for parties that had candidates standing in every seat in the UK general election. When was Northern Ireland excluded from the GE? Surprised that you did not think that was worth a comment.

Tormod

The only Scottish newspaper left is The Courier.

26 March 2010 12:25  
Blogger Thistle said...

Perhaps if the other parties had put up spokespeople from Scotland, Mr Salmond would have faced more of the questions you are suggesting should have been asked.

26 March 2010 15:11  
Blogger Observer said...

As has been pointed out, Mr Salmond didn't set the questions.

But the BBC shot themselves in the foot by deliberately avoiding the issue that has the whole of Glasgow in its thrall. Purcell.

They made a big deal about being fair and crossing lines when they got Griffin onto QT but they have avoided the biggest issue there is in Glasgow when broadcasting their programme from Glasgow.

Makes them look quite cowardly.

26 March 2010 15:13  
Blogger james said...

"But he did not have to answer a single question about his policies and record in office - not a single one."

Maybe because nobody (crowd or dimbleby) asked him a question on devolved matters?!

he can't exactly ask himself

27 March 2010 01:34  
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