This week, politics has traversed from the playground to the gutter and back again.
We’ve had Tony Blair, the Great Upstager, publishing his memoirs on the day Labour party members start voting for a new leader. In an even more badly timed “coincidence”, his interview on BBC went out precisely as the candidates for leader debated on Channel 4 news.
These same 5 candidates talked over and interrupted each other, and generally behaved abysmally. They all talked in soundbites and offered platitudes (yes even you on occasion Diane). There were no fresh ideas and the standard of debate was lamentable. But it made for a great news programme, didn’t it?
Meanwhile, the great and the good, the supposed Labour heavyweights and the newspapers have all declared for their preferred candidates. Nothing like leaving people to make their own minds up.
We’ve also seen a young man lose his job on the basis of tittle tattle and innuendo and the Foreign Secretary and his wife forced into making an intrusively personal statement detailing their unsuccessful attempts to start a family in an effort to shut the rumours down. And even if there was something in it, the only people who care are the bloggers and commentators. Who all have to make a living somehow, right?
Scottish politics was also in the mix. At a local level, two women councillors in Moray resigned from the council’s administration group, accusing male councillors and officials of sexism and behaving like dinosaurs. Glad to see things haven’t changed much since my day.
We’ve also had the usual unseemly spat between Labour and the SNP, this time over the demon drink. Scottish Labour’s Alcohol Commission reported and more or less, called for everything to be done that the SNP Scottish Government is intending to do anyway. But they couldn’t say that months ago, because opposition means never, ever admitting that the SNP might occasionally have a good idea or two.
Except on pricing. Of course. The Scottish Government is proposing that Scotland leads the way, globally and becomes the first country to introduce minimum alcohol prices. Labour couldn’t possibly allow that to happen and proposed that the UK Government set up a floor tax. So the SNP duly jerked its knee and accused Labour of selling out to London and got a wee sly dig in about Scotland not being able to create a price floor of its own as it doesn’t have powers over tax. When actually they could have seized the moral high ground and thanked Labour (through gritted teeth) for the report and promise to include everything not already in the bill or “framework for action”. And ignored their attempts to provoke.
While the main parties traded soundbites and insults, the two rational voices in the debate – the Youth Commission on Alcohol and Alcohol Focus Scotland – were ignored. It was all so familiar and tedious, I could have practically written the script myself. Still, of course, the country has a drink problem. A very big one. Which makes me wonder: couldn’t we have both a floor price and a minimum price? Or would that be too much like common sense, or heaven forfend, a compromise?
Yet, all the politicians and parties seemed to be having fun this week, which is nice.
And as a spectator sport, it just about beats watching cricket.