Oh God. Am I a sucker for punishment. Am I in fact a masochist? Maybe I should spend my evenings dripping melted candle wax onto my nipples instead of watching these bloody debates. It would be less painful and probably more productive, and it might even improve my chances of finding a date even if it was one of the 50 shades of grey variety, instead of being stuck indoors having no life and watching bleedin’ leaders’ debates. Oh God.
Seemingly this debate isn’t going out live, despite the BBC announcing it would be live. This gives the BBC plenty of time to edit out any false moustaches and heckling women wearing a dead sheep as a waistcoat, which are generally the only interesting things about these affairs. It also gives time to add the laugh track.
Contrary to suspicious mutterings on social media, the delay is not at the behest of MI5, or even the Scottish accounting unit of the Labour party, it’s not even in case Patrick Harvie calls David Coburn a racist twankmonkey – which would only be fair and entirely reasonable – it’s all down to the BBC keeching itself in case any audience members heckle that that BBC is biased crap and demand Ken MacQuarrie’s head on a plate. The BBC did this during the independence referendum with their “Big Debate” with 16 and 17 year olds. That was shite too. This doesn’t bode well.
The debate hasn’t even started and I’m bored already. This is shaping up to be one of those shouty and uniforming “Let’s disengage the punters from politics programmes” which Scottish broadcasters do so well. This time it’s the same four suspects as last night, but with added greenery from Patrick Harvie and purplish populist apoplexy courtesy of UKIP’s David Coburn, otherwise known as Jibberjabber the Hutt. I strongly suspect that Coburn is a masochist, after all he belongs to a party that wants to slash the Scottish budget and send our public services back to the stone age. He loves it when Nigel is strict. I can sense a theme for this blog post developing already.
After last night’s starring appearance from False Moustache Guy, the only way the party leaders can recover the initiative tonight would be to appear dressed as the cast of the Rocky Horror Show. Jim Murphy BA Politics (failed) has a natural advantage there, what with being a horror show all by himself, although the sight of Jim in a basque and fishnet stockings would probably make an entire nation rush off and drip melted candle wax on their nipples in an effort to purge the image from their minds. Still, it might suit him better than a Scotland strip, and it would certainly be a whole lot more believable than his claims to be a socialist. Rumour has it that chiropodists’ clinics all over Scotland were packed out today by people begging for their toes to be straightened after watching Jim last night.
Turned BBC1 on ready for the debate. Masterchef is still on. Oh My God it’s False Moustache Man with pan fried gnocchi!
Right, here we go. At last. It’s going to be shouty. There are rumours that David Coburn goes off in a huff after someone pan fried his doughy balls. We can but hope.
First question – is it responsible to spend our way out of debt. Jim’s up first, looking stary. His eyebrows are running riot and he’s only just started. He’s promising to end austerity by not undoing anything in George Osborne’s budget. Has Jim cleared this with Ed Balls?
Nicla points out that the austerity programme has failed even on its own terms. Austerity has pushed a million children into poverty. Good answer from Nicla.
Ruth claims we’re the fastest growing economy. Are we? Is that an actual fact or is that a Ruthie fact? Wullie says austerity is working.
David Coburn calls Alicsammin terrifying. He can do that because he doesn’t have any mirrors in his house. He says he wants to keep Barnett but that Alicsammin wants to abolish the Barnett formula and he’s the leader of the SNP. An audience member points out Nigel Farage said on the telly today that he wanted to abolish it. David Coburn is a moron, it’s official.
Nicla says if we try to spend too much time looking for consistency in UKIP’s answers we’ll never get anywhere at all. So she sticks the boot into Ruthie instead. Gets cheer from audience.
They’re all shouting over one another now. Jim says he just wants to be honest. Well there’s a first. And they’re all shouting over the top of one another again.
Why does David Coburn sound like a toad? He wants to stop foreign aid. It’s all the fault of foreigners. He gets booed. Patrick Harvie says Coburn wants to cancel Britain’s membership of the civilised world. He points out that every person on that stage could and should pay more in tax. He’d like to see a Scandinavian approach to both taxes and public services. When Patrick’s being honest you can be sure he’s honest. This is what distinguishes him from Jim. That and the absence of mad staring eyes and incontinent eyebrows.
Nicla says she wants to end austerity so we can invest in industries and grow the economy. Then there’s some shouting about Full Fiscal Autonomy and I’m none the wiser. Jim Murphy says we don’t need Full Fiscal Autonomy because we can tax rich houses in London. Scotland’s too wee and too poor. This debate is turning into a rerun of the BBC’s independence referendum debates.
The Unionists are going on about the state pension now and how it needs to be protected. None of them are pointing out that the UK has one of the lowest state pensions in Europe. Not much protection there then is there.
Nicla points out that Scotland is not a petroeconomy. Even without the oil our GDP is the same as the rest of the UK’s. This is about taking responsibility for our own resources and our own economy. She’s on fire here.
Someone brings up fracking. I’m not sure who over all the shoutiness. Jim says that local communities should decide on fracking. This is the man whose party didn’t vote for a moratorium on fracking. Now he’s changed the subject and he’s going back to FFA. His eyes are still staring.
This feels like we’re in an independence referendum debate. All shoutiness and screaming, heat and no light. Seems the Unionist parties just can’t accept that they won that vote and move on. It’s like Unionist groundhog day.
An audience member asks what the panellists can’t compromise on. Patrick Harvie says he could never support the renewal of nuclear weapons. He can’t support the demonisation of the poor. He makes a call for a new and better electoral system. Coalitions, he says, don’t need to be as dishonest as the one we had for the past five years. Scotland deserves a genuine multiparty democracy.
Wee Wullie Rennie gets asked. He says he’ll only support nice things. Good things. Fluffy things. Like bunnies, and kittens, and ickle chicks. Is there a point to Wullie Rennie? Does anyone know?
Ruthie says she won’t compromise on anything that will put the union at risk. She’s still fighting last year’s campaign. She demands that Nicla will rule out another referendum forever and a day.
Nicla says that she’s not even thought about the 2016 manifesto but she’ll only consider another referendum if there is a material change in circumstances. But the basic issue is that the people decide, not politicians.
Jim comes out with one of his rehearsed soundbites. He name checks the Daily Record. James Cook asks him if he remembers what the question is. Jim doesn’t. He’s too busy trying not to blink. Apart from the red tie he looks like an undertaker. Which is in fact not that far from the truth, Jim’s burying the Labour party.
Nicla says that she wants an end to austerity and promises that the SNP will never ever vote for the renewal of Trident. Ruth demands clarification, would the SNP vote against or just abstain? Nicla says they’ll vote against – is that clear enough for you Ruth?
This is all very shouty. It’s hard to keep up. Even the moderator is shouty. I thought he was supposed to be keeping the rest of them in check and not adding to it?
David Coburn’s red line is Europe, surprise surprise. His red line is any compromise with separatism. Nicla says she’s really very pleased about that. My god the man is thick. He starts to go on about immigration depressing wages.
Jim Murphy demands that Coburn stops demonising people. Which is a bit rich coming from Jim Murphy, but there ye go. It’s still all very shouty.
Nicla says the most depressing thing about the evening is the xenophobic attitude of Coburn, he’s a disgrace. Gets a big cheer for that. Not just from the audience but from me as well.
Well that was rubbish. No clear winners there was far too much shouting. But David Coburn was the clear loser, and we can all be grateful for that.
Still, thank god that’s over.
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