Dear Leader,

Yes, I thought I’d write an open letter to you all, Alex, Iain, Tavish and Annabel.  Not that I suppose you’ll have time to read it but hey ho – I find it cathartic.

I do hope you get the chance this evening to turn off the phone, kick off your shoes and settle back with a wee malt or similar and watch your collective performance on the BBC’s Politics Show’s live leaders debate.  I’ll warn you now to have the bottle to hand, cos it ain’t pretty.

Because – heaven help us – we have a few more of these artifices to get through before polling day, I thought it might be helpful to pass on a few tips that might just improve the tone and temper of proceedings:

  1. when a question is asked, it is the usual form to answer it.  Now I know as politicians you’ve spent years perfecting the art of not answering a question but please.  Can’t we move on a little and try a different tack, one that doesn’t make the viewer grind his or her teeth in exasperation?
  2. when the lady interviewer asks you a supplementary or even the same question a second time in the hope of eliciting an answer, it is rude to talk over her.  Worst of all, having a wee pop at her really doesn’t play well with the viewing lieges.  They just feel sorry for her and think of you as a brute.  You most of all, Annabel.
  3. getting into a squabble about who is going to pay themselves the least is pretty unedifying.  No one thinks MSPs and Ministers are going to starve because they’ve frozen or cut their salaries and all you do is remind the rest of us that you earn a packet.  Gives us another reason not to like any of you, see?
  4. if all four of you talk at once no one can hear anything.  I would have thought this was obvious.
  5. let’s reprise this little exchange:  “how tough is it going to be for families?” – Salmond:  “it’s going to be tough”;  Gray “it is tough” but “how tough?” “people know how tough”;  Scott “people know how difficult”;  Goldie “we know there are challenges”.  Now, can any of you suggest how we could have made that a little more meaningful for the viewer?
  6. Annabel and Tavish:  sitting on the outside is never easy but god knows, you both should be used to being on the fringes by now – don’t shout across the room at each other, either endearingly or abusively;  it doesn’t make for nice telly
  7. Alex and Iain: acknowledging each other’s presence wouldn’t make either of you come across as weak – in fact, you’d come across as expansive and statesmanlike, heck folk might even like you a bit more
  8. when asked to say something nice about each other, please do;  I’ve met all of you at various times and you all have redeeming qualities – again, the poor viewer/voter out there would warm to you for being human

Finally, please don’t listen to anything your most ardent activists and apparatchiks say about today’s little shenanigans.  All of them, to a man and woman, will say how well you did, how you scored the most points, how you wiped the floor with the opposition.  But you have their votes and adoration.  Their view counts nane. 

It’s voters what count.  And given that only 50% of the population voted last time round, you might want to ponder that taking your Holyrood bar-room brawl tactics into their living rooms today will have encouraged a few more to sit on their hands and polling cards this year.  If ever, in the sma’ dark hours, you get to wondering about the reasons for the disengagement and disillusionment of voters in Scottish politics today, you might want to take a long hard look in the mirror and then hit the replay button. 

The answer is staring you in the face.

Yours sincerely,

the Burd

P.S.  If you think I’m being a little harsh on you all, pop over to Lallands Peat Worrier to read his opinion of the debate… though I’d refill your glass first.

9 thoughts on “Dear Leader,

  1. Getting back to the leaders debate which I have just watched on i-Player, it was the format of the show itself which encouraged the bickering that so puts people off.
    However, committed nationalist as I am, I defy anyone in good faith to lump Alex Salmond in with the antics of Goldie, Scott & Gray. Alex Salmond was calm, measured, polite and fully on top of his brief – yes, he was forceful, but that is what we would expect of Scotland’s First Minister.

    • Ron, I respect your point of view but they all lost it at points. And Alex really did not respond well to Isobel Fraser’s question on women. But yes, he did appear on top of his brief though I really didn’t like the evasiveness on LIT. But he got away with it, just.

      • Agreed on Isabel’s question re Alex Salmond’s ratings with women, where a brief acknowledgement of the ‘problem’ would have gone a long way in showing the FM’s human side.
        I disagree on your assessment of the LIT attack upon Salmond, where with 3 opponents shouting and scoffing off stage and a format working against intelligent discussion Salmond’s position held firmly. Indeed, I had a wry chuckle to myself at the synthetic rage upon display over something that the SNP were forced to dump, yet not a squeak regarding the shifting position of Labour on the issue. This is an issue that will require all the parties to desist from seeking partisan advantage & address in a mature manner – will they be up for it?

      • The short answer is no! But I wish they would!! And not all rage is synthetic at them dumping this, again. Unless we are prepared to take big, bold decisions, we ain’t ever gonna sort the mess we are in or move Scotland on to a different plane. Incremental change like this is necessary to move Scotland and its mindset on to independence.

  2. .Why should you have to be “intelligent” or an “intelligent” viewer to get direction on who to vote for, that’s one of the reasons for voter apathy, why is the jargon and discussion so detached from common interest, understanding an day to day reality which simply puts people off, then it comes down to simple personalities, who are the intelligent people who allow that to happen, that’s a communication problem with some leanings to arrogance not an intelligence one.
    Personally I don’t want a builders or car mechanics estimate manifesto which changes when the real challenges become apparent after the jobs secured .
    I want a restaurant commitments, a clear menu were you know what’s on offer and the price which will have to be paid before eating, a contract with honest honourable people who are interested in responsibility rather than power and will make decision for the same reason.
    You have to create taxpayers independent of the state its not a cost it’s a saving in every way, including creating more council tax payers rather than increasing the tax itself.
    Services users are not at the centre and that is not recent, and you are right they should be, that requires a culture change and shift from power decision making to responsibility decision making. Which political parties restaurant would you be confident to eat at?

  3. Diidn’t see the debate but it almost doesn’t matter: these events only involve the well trined whose minders would not let them behave other. For me, the problem is that wur Burd is that rarer species—an intelligent viewer. Televised debates are more wrestling spectaculars than BBC4 documentaries.

    We’re in bread and circuses territory here. The average viewer likes a rammy and the media’s disinterested in much else—I’m o fan of IG but the defining clip of his last week’s campaigning has been the undignified scuffle at Central Station, not anything he might have said.

    • Do you think so? Hadn’t thought of that, that the viewing public actually likes this kind of rammy politics. Gosh. Now you really have depressed me!

      Agree with your last point but also know how fleeting attentions spans are…

  4. If what your saying Burdzeyeview its time to take pantomime, personality out of the debate and deal with reality of policy and what the “tough” management solutions are, and how they will be put in place to secure a economic sustainable future for Scotland I agree.
    Here is a question for you, who has the strategy to provide the largest amount of none tax consuming employment opportunities for the future?
    I think that’s the only strategy that will save public service Jobs.

    • Hi Martin, Yes I am saying that so glad we agree! As for your question, ooh, that’s a hard one having not sat down yet and analysed the manifestoes. I’m not keen on anything though that saves public sector jobs for the sake of it, but we do need a strategy that reconfigures public services, makes them more streamlined and future proofs them, puts the service user at the centre so that there are driven by that at all times, and if that results in some of the existing jobs going but new ones being created, then so be it.

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