I finally got round to watching Question Time on the BBC iPlayer. I like to wait a couple of days when the programme comes from Scotland rather than watching it when it’s broadcast - partly because it might annoy me and keep me off my sleep, and partly because I like to read what others say about it first so I can compare their (often also biased) opinion with the reality.
There were no grounds for optimism on seeing the make-up of the panel with unionists outnumbering pro-independence people as usual. The invited audience is normally chosen to reflect a broad range of public opinion, i.e. from those who hate the idea of independence to those who utterly abhor it. However, in this programme I’d say the split was about 40-60 yes-no with both sides doing themselves no favours with the cheering/booing, although it was noticeable that the pro-dependence members were given more time to put their points across.
The Beeb did well getting Mags Curran as she’s normally fully booked in the run-up to Halloween and it was nice to hear her in full “Ah live in a muckle big hoose paid fir by you plebs but honestly ah’m jist pyoor wan o youse so am urr” mode. Mags stated that she doesn’t believe in independence which resulted in great applause from her rent-a-mob. We then went into party political broadcast territory where she was allowed to trot out the usual tired old garbage – the partnership works well, not a time to build walls, and – well you pretty much know the rest. Nicola Sturgeon retorted that it’s best that all the big decisions are made here and that’s when the interruptions and heckling started funnily enough. However, they were competently slapped down by the Deputy First Minister.
Alan Cochrane was next up after some audience contributions. Apparently we could be independent according to the bearded wonder, sounding almost reasonable in person and not at all like the deranged loonie that inhabits Torygraph Towers with the remit of putting his country down at every opportunity. He reckons we could indeed survive but maybe not as well which he’s entitled to think even though he’d no facts to back it up. We’d also entered the realms of the surreal where we had a Labour MP sounding more Tory than him. He even – shock, horror – agreed with Nicola Sturgeon who politely pointed out that the ministerial code could not be breached by releasing legal advice on the EU and that the opposition parties would be the first to complain were the Scottish Government to do so.
Ruth Davidson stuck her oar in with the 9.6%/9.3% already discredited, nonsensical figures from Better Together as you’d expect, but given what she previously spouted about non-contributing households in Scotland she did so without a shred of credibility. Not the daftest thing I heard this week. That accolade goes to the Essex dimbo on Take Me Out who didn’t know that they spoke a different language in Germany or that salmon is a seafood. Long may we have free education up here.
Anyway, Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS, had Mags looking at him like he had two heads when he slagged Labour over free prescriptions and other policies and for the fact that they’d obviously prefer Scotland to be run by the most right-wing government ever rather than be independent. Nail on the head, Mark, but don’t look in the eyes.
The audience contributions were fairly typical – we’d just be like Ireland and Iceland, etc., apparently oblivious to the fact that both countries have survived the financial crisis better than the UK. The guy at the back was an obvious plant though. He might as well have had “Labour activist and hopin’ fir ma turn at a safe cooncil seat” tattooed on his forehead where there was ample room. “How would we pay off our part of the national debt, where would we get the money from – you’d have to add taxes on, it’s a figment of people’s imagination that independence is great. Oil will run out in 2027/30, where will you get the money from, if you’re willing to pay £7.45 same as Norway to buy a pint of beer then vote for independence.” Such a shocking amount of ignorance in relatively few words. No positivity about his country at all. I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that in a past life this gentleman wasn’t one of the pioneers that opened up the western frontier. Find a common denominator and keep everyone down at it – west of Scotland Labour’s paucity of ambition in a nutshell.
I must admit I was nearly zeding by this time. Maybe I’ve got a low boredom threshold. There was time for a question about why should 16 and 17 year-olds get the vote when they aren’t deemed responsible enough to buy fireworks. You’d think the enquirer would be embarrassed to ask guff like that but he was perfectly serious. I know, as I’m sure everyone else does, plenty of 30/40 year olds that you wouldn’t let within a mile of a lit match so remarks like this are as pointless as they’re ignorant. Wee Roof didn’t agree though and when pressed by Dumbledore as to why Cameron conceded it she waffled some nonsense about the age of consent. It can be summed up easily enough – old enough to get married, old enough to have a say in the future of your nation. Even oor Mags agreed it’s a good idea.
So over the course of the programme we had Alan Cochrane agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon, Nicola Sturgeon agreeing with Mags Curran, a union General Secretary completely at odds with a Labour MP and poor wee Roof looking as popular as a papal envoy at the Shankill Loyal’s weekly sash-up. More like Tales of the Unexpected than Question Time. Apart from that last bit of course.
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