Thursday, 3 June 2010

FMQ's Revisited...

The SNP administration at Holyrood has had an easy ride. They achieve nothing in terms of the Scottish economy and public services, the Scottish press does not hold them to account, and the weekly knockabout at First Minister's Question Time has hitherto been a cockpit for Alex Salmond to avoid answering questions while pouring contempt on any idea that he could ever be held to account.

What with General Elections and Tory Coalitions and resigning ministers, it's a while since I had a look in at FMQs. What a change! Ian Gray, that apparently well-named grey man and supposedly inneffective questioner of Alex Salmond, has changed his spots since last I looked, and how. 

On this evidence Gray is a different man: strong, eloquent, scathing and dismissive, he attacked the SNP and Salmond and Education Secretary Michael Russell with aplomb and elan. At today's session, Gray tore into Salmond on the issue of teacher unemployment and education generally (with a bit of lost nursing jobs thrown in). And it wasn't just his eleoquence that shone through: he was passionate and angry and pointed. He ended with the demanding that Mike Russell should resign and with the charge that young teachers and nurses, who find themselves out of work, would have to emigrate to find work: a shaft to the heart of the SNP, the so-called Party of Scotland.

I've never seen Salmond so defensive. And the long shots of Salmond, Russell and Nicola Sturgeon revealed a baffled and  defensive trio.True to form, Salmond blamed the Westminster Government, and then he blamed the Councils, and then he blamed specific Councils, but he never took any responsibility on himself or his government. All in all, his whole demeanour, and that of his party, was downbeat and unconvincing. 

Gray, on the other hand, looks like a man who has found his form: he has lost his inhibitions, and is swinging verbal lefts and rights and uppercuts with abandon. Today he landed a few solid blows, and took none in return.

Interesting times at Holyrood.

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