10 April 2011

Politics Show Scotland: mediocrity, vacuity & mendacity...

Today, my whole spirit has been prodded by a non-specific sense of general irritation with life, the universe - the plants, the flowers - the sunshine. It is most uncharacteristic and I blame the Politics Show Scotland, rather unfairly, which was monstrously awful this morning. Annabel Goldie, Gray, Salmond and Tavish Scott were all jostling with Isabel Fraser, flinging in snidey little asides, being obscurely jargon-governed and insiderish - each doing their weather best to make the whole panel look like the four finalists in Scotland's Political Cretin of the Year 2011.   The format encouraged the four folk involved to behave like horrid bullying weans, tweaking each other by the tit and howling discord. Watching them, I conceived of the gummy, sneery lineaments a crowd of  hobby-horse mounted brats, snarling their peals of dirty mirth, kicking sand into the eyes of their opponents and lodging sneaky knees in the soft portions of each other's anatomy. Edifying, it was not.

I overfloweth with vexed similes. They were a scabby nest full of shrill, overfed chicklets, yammering for attention, making one long for a larcenous feline to rob the nest, and bring back blessed silence. Downy little lives be damned. Like hyenas tearing into the putrefying carcass of some hapless gnu, each was keen to spatter themselves and their fellows in the loose mucus and gore of totally vacuous partisanship - and everything which makes me, and I dare say much of the population, come to despise elections.  I enjoy the flyting of FMQs. I like a bit of spirited to-and fro. Today's Politics Show Scotland cut a simply contemptible scene. You could almost see the wholly mistaken calculation take place, the heavy, rusted cogs of the politicians' consciousness clanking thickly. I know how to make myself seem like a terrifically robust fellow, wielding my blunt little foil in debate - I'll handily bludgeon the buggery out of my limping foes - triumph will be mine! Annabel Goldie was arguably the worst offender. She seems to imagine that it makes her seem splendidly robust and doughty to brain her opponents with an outsize rhetorical  handbag - lest she lose her position as the foremost doily-thuggee in the country - her shrill invocation of common sense the ritual demonstration that she has all the discrediting unreflectiveness of a brick. All the rest were equally contemptible, squalling, shrieking, interjecting. This unfettered gobshitism made me hope that one of the eight elbows which were so endlessly being thrown could have caught in a throat or plugged a single sodding gob - how I would have rejoiced at the muteness!  It was enough to turn this particular Peat Worrier into a vinegar bottle of ever advancing acidity, as this understated account of proceedings demonstrates with characteristic mildness.

An utterly loathsome parade of mediocrity, vacuity and mendacity. An excruciation, sans charm, sans grace, sans substance. Shut the hell up.


  1. Yes, it was rather poor.

    Goldie and Gray appear to be trying the poison-the-well tactic, with roar, bluster, deflection, dissembly, and if that fails, then straight onto the General Haig style percussion - monumental, stupefying, jaw-dropping, lies.

    Tavish has no idea whatsoever. Gone is the Flashman swagger, replaced by a dog whipped across the eyes. It's a classic breach of Scottish mores. If you give it out, you have to be able to take it in return, laddie.

  2. It was a bit of a rammy.

    Annabel seemed to be channelling the spirit of Margaret Thatcher, treating the others with such patronising contempt.

    Salmond really didn't have a clue how to answer the question on why women didn't like him. Scenes like the one he was embroiled in are part of the answer. But actually he had a reasonable defence if he could only cared enough to find it.

    Iain Gray - well he wasn't quite as dire as the STV debate, and he did seem to have a pulse this time but he fell apart answering questions on his flagship send everyone with a knife to jail for 6 months policy. And he was so brazen - the only prescription charge reduction Labour voted for was the last one, and there he was pretending like it was his idea.

    Yes, I know you're going to say I would say that, but I do think Tav did best - he pulled up Salmond very well on FOI, but in his usual calm manner and talked a lot about the dangers of centralising the Police.

    I don't think the event would have been improved with the addition of Patrick Harvie - it would just have got angrier sooner.

    I think Tavish and Salmond were the only ones to talk about people with any sort of empathy.

    Not the best affair - and it made me even more depressed at the though of Iain Gray as FM. It just can't happen.

  3. Vote for me because I have no manners...

    I don't know what it is with political programming and people who appear in it with no manners - I still hyperventilate at the thought of Niall Ferguson shouting at Ken Livingstone on Question Time a few weeks back - but people on these programmes have quite frankly taken leave of their senses.

    Salmond won today, because he knew when to keep shtum while the others cut their throat.

    Having said that, I thought that Isobel Fraser handled herself very well.

  4. I can never be bothered setting the video properly, so it's normally just a case of setting it going and taping a few hours of the one channel.

    So today it was a choice between the Politics Show and the Eastenders omnibus (on BBC2 because of the F1), and I chose the latter.

    But sounds like it wouldn't have made much difference either way!

  5. ratzo,

    Haven't heard from yourself for a while! Amused by the idea that the barky, twigly Tavish (sorry Caron!) ever had a Flashmanite twinkle.


    I'd say it is probably rather unfair to ask the Maximum Eck about women not liking him. A more felicitous phrasing might be why does he think he might appeal to women less than men (to the tune of 10% in most polling, as I recall)? For my part, I think it is generally a bad idea for Salmond to talk about his popularity ratings at all. They speak for themselves, and referencing them, especially comparatively, can only make him look self-satisfied.


    I do understand how, in the heat of a scene, one can be overcome by the urge to get stuck in, make your case, argue. It is an eminently understandable impulse. Only far back in my mind, if I was i'th'midst of such a stramash, would be the comprehensibility of the whole exchange for voters sitting glaikitly in front of their tellies, unable to find anything better to do that morning.


    Unless, like me, you are a connoisseur of your own vexation - and on some perverse level, rather enjoy being irritated - giving it a miss seems like a wise expedient.

  6. Perhaps I'm tripping over my paranoia - but was BBC Scotland the 'winner' here?

    By encouraging an energetic "interactive" debate did BBCS hope for anything more than a pitched furore? Ms 'McBoudicca' Goldie and Mr 'Wet and windy' Gray were bound to let fly at each other, Mr 'Falter' Scott would be his usual non-personality mode and Mr Salmond - attempting to answer - would be drowned out by the political pincer-attack LabraConoodles on either side of him. Obviously a clear indication of the superiority of Westminster which is of course frequently beyond reproach by the BBC?

  7. @Clarinda

    Poor old Eck, drowned out by labraconoodles, a fate worse than an independence referendum, and him attempting to answer too....

    Actually, amongst all the drivel, he was the only participant to lay himself open to the accusation of downright lying, when he said that Lieutenant Swinney had already revealed the cost of the LIT in Parliament...

    which is strange, because no-one else can remember it, and it certainly was not reported in the press....

    ...and if true, you may ask: in which case why spend £50,000 of our money stopping publication of said costs of LIT?

  8. I enjoyed following this on the twitter streams - with a lot of your comments! I had heard Brian Taylor give a Radio 4 round-up on the World This Weekend yesterday. To my ears (and I admit to being anti-Clegg), it made Tavish Scot sound like the poor intern. At least the programme was a start to discourse on Scottish politics.

    I spent at least three hours filling in a BBC Trust questionnaire on Radios 3, 4 and 7. My main gripe was the lack of clarity in describing politics with the Westminster lens. This view also extended to health, education and legal issues. I think Radio 4 has improved, but the coverage selected by the Radio 4 controllers on Scottish politics is very narrowly defined - in my humble opinion.

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  10. Clarinda,

    Too cunning. Just poor formatting, I'd suggest.


    I'm always suspicious of folk who seem to resist satirisation. The ultra-bone-dry Tavish seems to be one of those fellows. On your second point, any sort of post-devolutionary Unionist consciousness is minimal. The recent politics of NHS strikes me as an interesting case in point, where neither side of the argument ever makes explicit that they're talking about English institutions.


    I had been wondering how you kept yourself entertained since your employment ended in a summary cloud of cheesy dust. Ratcatcher, an obvious choice...

  11. LPW, Salmond look self satisfying, smug, arrogant? Really? That would never happen, surely:-)