So, for my 250th posting, will I write about how swimmingly informative the Hollyrood election has been, will I write about how the banter has flowed to and fro. Of course not!
Manners in debates is something that has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Watching various Tory MP’s and cabinet members on Question Time, you can see them itching to have a go at anyone who dares to question them and pulling back for fear of the negative headlines that would follow. Decorum though does not hold back right wing political commentators. Two of the nastiest and vitriolic exchanges have involved Conservative supporting panellists, who have just been downright rude to anyone who disagrees. With a track record like Kelvin Mackenzie’s, you would expect him to be, well not the most pleasant to anyone who disagrees. But his defence of Nuclear power was just an exercise in rubbishing the opposition.
The other person who has been totally rude on television recently was the historian Niall Ferguson, who seems to have been taking tips from David Starkey. Ferguson might be one of the most influential people on the planet, but that does not give him a mandate to be rude to people with opposing views, as he was when appearing on Question Time. He shouted over Ken Livingston when discussing Libya a couple of weeks ago, and tried to belittle anyone who did not conform to his view that Labour were at fault for the deficit (which is true, but there was no tub thumping condemnation for giving approximately £1 Trillion to criminally negligent bankers).
Tempers have really frayed since the set of elections set for 5 May have hovered into view. I can see the AV referendum campaign becoming more fractious – in no small part due to the tetchiness of Sayeeda Warsi, and others within the No camp. It is here though that campaigning has become really bad tempered. Iain Gray’s ramrod refusal to talk to members of the public was compounded further by his performance in Sunday’s Leaders set piece on The Politics’ Show. His arguments consisted, from what I could hear of them, of the Tories are bad, the SNP are pally with the Tories, the Lib Dems are in Government with the Tories so vote for me. Shockingly, Gray was not the worst offender.
Annabelle Gouldie appeared to take her lead from her English colleagues by starting to talk down to her parliamentary colleagues, the interviewer (on a tangent here, but isn’t Isobel Fraser having a good campaign so far), and anyone who hadn’t turned off in disgust. Gouldie & Tavish Scott had several heated exchanges, while Tavish brought up the controversy surrounding LIT. Unfortunatly Scott was so intent on getting at Salmond that we didn’t quite make out Salmond’s response. As a result, Sunday was as perfect an advertisement for not bothering to vote that I have ever seen.
If, by some sheer trick of fate any politician is reading this, then ask yourself this question. Do you want my vote? Well, do you? When turnout falls once again on May 5th, perhaps those seeking election should think about what they did to engage with voter at large, rather than just the one way conversation that seems to be going on just now. With three weeks to go, time to pull your fingers out folks.