BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 03 MAY 2010


Remember the last time you and four mates were half-pissed at dinner and some ‘eejit’ brought up politics over the panna cotta? If you are unsure how much you annoyed the other diners then go on to Sky Anytime and have a gander at the Scottish Leaders Debate.

This debate was taking the Britain’s Got Talent metaphor too far. This was cartoon politics and all that was missing was a big foam mallet. With 1800 souls in the room we were treated to a sixty minute rammy that Glen Campbell at various points never controlled, all but nutted a few of the senior politicians to keep them in line and offended them all with trite, aggressive, pointless points of information.

Jim Murphy looks permanently startled and insubstantial and just seems too nice for the nasty world of politics. The stooshie that surrounds the accusation by Glen Campbell of house flipping is a case in point. On rebutting the point Gentlemen Jim was too verbose, passive and apologetic: he either had to bat it away by ignoring it or go over to Campbell and give him a right good slap: he deserved to be Tangoed.

Startled and insubstantial is not something you could ever say about the pugilistic heavyweight that is Alex Salmond. In a different environment Salmond could slaughter all three of his opponents, Braveheart style. But, after a good opening where he rattled off some big numbers and quoted Alasdair Darling, he never really got going. Salmond is awesome in full flow but the format was all over the place and that never helped him, or maybe he just couldn’t be bothered raising his game (maybe he should have sent someone else…)

David Mundell had all the best lines here and got the better of Chairman Glen, too, by talking over him as if he was not there. Mundell also seems to hugely enjoy his time up there (take note Jim) and is not scared to take on Big Eck. It’s not often Salmond gets properly flustered but when Mundell accused him of being all mouth and trousers with his big numbers the First Minister came off second best.

Alex Carmichael on the far right totally under-whelmed initially and, with the bad suit and poorly knotted tie, was a perfect bookend to Jim Murphy. In fairness he got into his stride and, while he could show a bit more get-up-and-go, delivered some terrific blows to Salmond and Murphy especially. By the end I think we’ll all have liked big Teuchter quite a lot.

There was some great hammer and tongs stuff in terms of entertainment but, a bit like the guff at the end of a long, liquid dinner, not much in terms of substance or anything we should bother remembering. It was all a bit of a rammy where the loudest voice won, which was mostly Mundell’s.

And the rest of the diners got in on the act. It might be a bit more staid with no audience noise or follow up questions but it gives us a better look at the protagonists. And these debates are a talent show, but not a game show. The three Prime Ministerial Debates had the best format by far and were seminal moments in television. This one will be forgotten very soon.

Looking over all the debates, Dimbleby was the best Chair, followed by Alasdair Stewart. Sky man Boulton was awkward, seemed under-prepared and out of his depth. Glen Campbell wanted to be a Rhinestone Cowboy. If you want to be the turn next time, Glen, enter Britain’s Got Talent.


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