17 December 2012

For A' That ~ 8 ~ "Who's flagging now?"

Is Alex Salmond flagging? Losing his political touch a bit? Is he just another tall Scottish poppy, at risk of being "untimely plucked, soon vaded"? That's the thesis we kicked off by examining in this week's For A' That podcast. On this, eighth, edition of the show, Michael and I were joined by self-styled "lefty lawyer and Scottish Labour Party hack", Ian Smart.

We also took a look at the evolving political statures of three of Scotland's leading female politicians. What might the future hold for the careers of Nicola Sturgeon, Johann Lamont, and Ruth Davidson and their parties, whatever happens in 2014? To give you a sneak peek inside the can, Ian's assessment of his party's and leader's future fortunes is, to say the least, rather bleak.

In a week in which the Scottish Government published its draft equal marriage Bill for consultation, we reviewed the last year's debate on the issue, and discuss the broader issue of whether it is a problem that Scottish political institutions are failing to represent conservative sections of public opinion.  I also took the opportunity to ask Ian, who is a former president of the Law Society of Scotland, about the recent controversy about Kenny MacAskill's proposed changes to the legal aid regime north of the border. Ian also afforded an interesting insight into the struggles of legally unrepresented litigants in court, and the challenges which their participation in legal proceedings can pose to both judges, and lawyers briefed for the other side.  Otherwise, we also touched briefly on the flag protests in Belfast, which was mirrored by a union-jack festooned protest outside the City Chambers in Glasgow.

We'll be back next weekend, with our For A' That Review of the Year. As we tend towards the Festive season, and the (almost) end of our first calendar year of podcastery, I also wanted to say many thanks to all those folk who've supported this project, either by lending their ears to the shows, supporting it financially via our donate buttons, telling their pals about it, and of course to the guests who've given of their time to come on. They're very entertaining to do - and I hope a beneficial and diverting addition to Scottish political commentary, at a time when we need to pull together every scrap of useful discussion which we can.

As usual, you can listen to the latest episode online here, or download it from the player, or from iTunes, for later.  


  1. The wistfulness in the SLAB guy's voice when he was talking was about Jim Murphy, prince over the water...

  2. *passes his glass over another, full of water, before slurping the Loyal Toast*

  3. Galloway is also an admirer of Murphy (well he was once) and when George is not frothing he is not a bad judge.

    I'd give Sturgeon top marks for courage - she didn't prevaricate over gay marriage despite the ludicrous threats of Bashir Maan. Lamont also deserves credit for saying that politics is sometimes about breaking out of the giant tea cosy of unthinking consensus.

    The Lib Dems deserve nothing except a kicking - the decision to enter the coalition is not on the level of sinfulness of Blair's invasions but represents a high watermark of political stupidity.

    The Tories done good in the Annandale vote the other week and are now the biggest in D&G - no one seems to rate Ruth Davidson very much but she is slogging away.

    As for the new soap, The Flagging of Eck, I have never been a fan of Salmond, but I much prefer the new muted model, which now makes conciliatory noises about Scots being able to be British as well as Scottish. I remember him on Radio Scotland after we beat France raving about he was going to make the Scottish team 'Guardians of Scotland' (the most puerile invocation of the Braveheart mythos ever). We then got beat by Italy of course.

    What is rather interesting about Salmond is what he doesn't talk about. He must have some thoughts on the Trump movie he could share with us for sure, or the Top Scot award (won by Michael Forbes - I voted for him). Or there is today's stushie about the Visit Scotland dosh going to Brave, with none wafting in the general direction of Loach's pleasant wee caper movie.

    Come to think of it, some of the most interesting questions are cultural ones and we deserve to know what our leaders (not just Eck) think of such matters, apart from Disney cartoons. Is Jim Kelman right, for example, to feel aggrieved at making only 15 grand a year? Should he receive a state subsidy of some kind for adding to the gaiety of nations?

  4. Now, would it not be possible that Salmond having induced all the unionist 'pigs' to surrender themselves to the poke prior to the government announcing - Once the EU terms of membership are known and their effects analysed, the people of Scotland will decide whether the terms are acceptable or not in a second referendum prior to the first general election?

    Would that not clear the decks of hyperbole and rhetorical clutter?

  5. It's a real pity that you can't produce subtitles for the podcasts as there are so many people with hearing loss (about 1 in 6) who can't participate. 444

  6. Agreed, heartfeltly, re subtitles!

  7. It is something I would like to do but unfortunately I simply do not have the time between two jobs and two podcasts.

    What I can do is put a shout-out on the podcast itself asking for volunteers and if anyone is willing to do I will publish the transcripts on my blog along with the podcasts themselves.

  8. Anonymous A & B,

    Thanks for this. On subtitles, I just wanted to echo Michael's sentiments. As chance would have it, I've actually done a wee bit of work before on access to the arts for those who are hearing and visually impaired, so I'm alive to the issues, and problems of inaccessibility. Like Michael, I'd love to be able to make these more accessible. As is often the case, however, resources and time pose the biggest challenges for us here. For the moment, at least, a wee shout out to the audience is the best we can do, I'm afraid.