So, who had a good week in politics and who had a mare?
Well, top trump in the chumps and flumps’ stakes has to be shared by Liam Fox and Chris Huhne. Huhne for managing to tweet a direct message openly to all and sundry that indicated that he had been briefing off the record. Tsk, tsk. And Liam Fox because of a complicated relationship with his best man that has resulted in lots of tittle-tattle on the front pages of the metropolitan press. Oh, and that he’s had to refer himself to be investigated for his conduct. If he thought this course of action might damp the whole thing down, he was wrong: the political press pack now scent blood.
George Osborne had a good week when he probably shouldn’t have – he appears to have taken over from Teflon Tony. A robust and passionate conference speech against a backdrop of gloomy economic news at home, dire straits in Europe and tailspinning global markets. Oh and still no plan for growth. His reaction to credit downgrading for some of the UK’s biggest financial institutions was “good, about time”. Labour’s reaction to this nonchalance was non-existent. Where was Balls on this?
David Cameron, meanwhile, was almost conspicuous by his absence from the public and media consciousness in this big week for his party. How strange. Yet, perhaps pre-ordained? The show after all doesn’t always have to be about him. Steady as she goes, after all, this far out from a UK election. Though lots of puppy-dog earnestness about paying down our debt and adopting a can-do attitude ain’t exactly newsworthy.
In media terms, the phrase darling was surely coined for the hilarious double-act performed by Messrs Jeremy Paxman and Boris Johnson on Newsnight. At times, surreal, at others simply bizarre, it was an interview that contained genuinely laugh out loud moments. There is a vaudeville opening for them on the festival circuit when they both retire.
No real stand out performances at Holyrood this week, though I do think, Holyrood itself and the SNP and Labour collectively can pat themselves on the back for a job well done on the welfare reform debate. Jackie Baillie skilfully manoeuvred the Scottish Government into a difficult position over her amendment to its resolution on the UK Government’s welfare reform bill. Anyone who has discounted totally her tipping her hat at the leadership might be a little premature. And even if she doesn’t run, she laid down a marker this week that she is a parliamentary force to be reckoned with. Particularly as it is rumoured that the Scottish Government was bounced by its backbenchers at a parliamentary group meeting into supporting her amendment. The idea that the group of 69 provides little more than lobby fodder might well be unfounded.
Indeed, the Scottish Government was put on the backfoot – again – on its ill-thought out anti-sectarianism bill. Opponents are circling at an ever more alarming rate and gaining credence and credibility. The committee’s report was a dog’s breakfast, ably dissected by the estimable Lallands Peat Worrier. The lesson from this debacle for the First Minister is surely that election commitments made on the hoof result in much repenting at leisure. What other wee goodies did Salmond bounce his party into during the campaign that will now return to haunt his administration? (And that’s quite enough clichés for one blog post)
Ed Miliband shuffled his pack (oops, sorry) and Margaret Curran can be viewed as a big winner. Only an MP since 2010, she is now in the shadow Cabinet, and will bring her knowledge of Scottish politics to bear, as well as her experience as a government minister, albeit in the ither Parliament. Those CyberNats guffawing at her prospects against the FM are missing the point. He is not her putative opponent: Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State is. I reckon she will land plenty of blows, as I’m not sure the ponderous and accident-prone Mr Moore will cope with her incessant, terrier-like harrying.
Miliband now has a Cabinet of his own making, though it remains to be seen if he can make anything of his Cabinet. And his opportunity. Tom Watson, meanwhile, can be pleased that his championing of the phone hacking scandal, from the start, when no one else was prepared to listen, has resulted in such an omnipotent role behind the scenes. The new Mandy is a very different beast….
So, time to vote. And let’s see how the SNP-oriented readers of A Burdz Eye View cope without having one of their ain to vote for. Go on, engage your brain, you know you want to…. though if you disagree with my choices, suggest alternatives in the comment thread, and I “might” add them.