I probably owe Johann Lamont an apology. I thought she was letting Alex Salmond walk all over her at First Minister’s Questions today. She was trying to pull him up on college shambles. He seemed absolutely sure of his figures. Nobody could have been in any doubt that college funding had not been cut, despite what Audit Scotland and the Parliament’s own information centre said. What do they know? However, what appeared to be flogging a dead horse was in actual fact giving the First Minister enough rope. She managed to hide what she was doing under a series of scowls. She may have got lucky, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she really did plan a denouement that had Salmond scuttling back to the Chamber later in the afternoon to apologise.
Salmond had been at his blustering best. Another member of the Scottish blogosphere, Ian Smart, got mentioned in dispatches. Salmond quoted Smart on one of Johann Lamont’s advisers:
“If there is a more stupid, politically tone deaf, possibly fifth columnist, political adviser than Paul Sinclair then I’ve yet to meet them.”
He enjoyed that moment far more than was decent, too.
So, Ian joins Alex Cole-Hamilton and Andrew Page in the illustrious group of opposition people to have been mentioned by Salmond at FMQs.
Oh, by the way, one feature of today’s event was the unedifying spectacle of Stewart Maxwell, the Education Committee Convener who only yesterday was saying that there was no need for an enquiry into Mike Russell’s disproprtionate and outrageous behaviour which forced Stow College Chairman Kirk Ramsay into resignation. There was once a time when Holyrood Committees were respected and influential. Now their conveners are given toadying questions by the whips just like everyone else. It’s quite pathetic. As Tavish Scott wrote in the Scotsman today, there’s not much in the way of Parliamentary scrutiny for this Government.
The afternoon’s proceedings kicked off with a fairly smug Point of Order from Hugh Henry and, later, the First Minister had to come back to the Chamber to admit on his and Mike Russell’s behalf, that he’d got it wrong. You can watch it all here. And having seen Johann Lamont’s response to him, I’m back thinking that she might have got lucky. She’s going to need to learn to be pithy.
The SNP Government is squandering its reasonably justified reputation for competence and it’s now impossible to believe a word Alex Salmond says. To be caught telling not the whole truth once was bad enough, but twice is definitely wrong. How many more times are we going to see Salmond dragged back to the Chamber with his tail between his legs. He said today that Labour had called for everyone’s resignation bar his. That, if he carries on the way he is, may only be a matter of time.
If this were the Obama campaign, someone more technically savvy than I would have Alex Salmond’s comments at FMQs and his apology mashed up on You Tube by now…..