Double bogey … as press take a swing at Salmond

42
1222


It made the news on Thursday, top billing in the politics section of two Scottish papers.  It even compelled one of the journalists to write of the matter on his blog.

What was the sensational revelation that grabbed the political ‘X Factor’ spotlight and resulted in two votes of approval from the Scottish newspaper panel?


It made the news on Thursday, top billing in the politics section of two Scottish papers.  It even compelled one of the journalists to write of the matter on his blog.

What was the sensational revelation that grabbed the political ‘X Factor’ spotlight and resulted in two votes of approval from the Scottish newspaper panel?

Was it the transatlantic Megrahi row? Perhaps minimum pricing for alcohol? Maybe the cloned cow?

The answer is none of the above – the matter that proved so enthralling was an interview that Alex Salmond had given to a golfing magazine after a cabinet visit to Dornoch.  The visit formed part of the Scottish cabinet’s 2010 public tour as they offer the electorate the opportunity to make points and ask questions.

This is a continuation of previous tours that saw the cabinet visit Dundee, Melrose, Stornoway, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dumfries, Inverness, Pitlochry and Skye.  This year’s sees Dornoch, Stirling, the Isle of Bute and Kilmarnock added to the list.

So, just what was it that so vexed these political hacks and led them to rush to the keyboard in order to alert their loyal readers?

Well immediately after the Dornoch event, the First Minister, in an effort at promoting golf in the Highlands, gave an interview to golfing magazine ‘Bunkered’.

Alex Salmond was asked a series of questions based on golf, which he answered in typical light hearted manner reflecting the relaxed tone of the interview.  One of the questions is reproduced below, together with Mr Salmond’s answer:

It must be hard fitting in time to play and watch golf given your job?
“Well, here’s a wee confession for you.  I’m taking the cabinet to Dornoch.  This is so as we can show that we’re all about the whole country.  The cabinet is not just about Edinburgh, it’s for the whole of Scotland so it’s a good thing to do.  When we’re there, we’ll be promoting the hotel, the good causes in the Highland’s and all that sort of thing.”

Nothing wrong there then, but the First Minister added a tame joke at the end when he said:
“Having said that, the fact that I’ve never played Royal Dornoch crept into the equation! As someone who has played hundreds of Scottish courses, I feel bereft that I’ve never played Royal Dornoch but I’ll be putting that right soon.”

This extraordinary revelation led to articles appearing in the Scottish press headlined variously ‘Salmond in the bunker over golf gaffe’, ‘Salmond finds himself in a bunker over golf joke’ and the rather long winded ‘Alex Salmond blasted by rivals after telling magazine he took Cabinet to Dornoch so he could play golf’.

One of the papers reported that Mr Salmond did indeed play a round of golf in Dornoch, something that usually costs around £90.

So ‘Roundofgolfgate’ duly made it as top billing, and readers of The Scotsman and The Record sat aghast (or bewildered) at the news that Alex Salmond was roaming around Scotland whacking golf balls hither and thither.

Fore!!
‘It’s the silly season’ wrote The Record’s Torcuil Crichton who proceeded to inform visitors to his blog that Labour had used the light hearted remarks in order to dredge up past smear stories about the First Minister.  This was indeed true, for the keen eyed amongst us duly spotted an article that repeated those very same Labour smears, and guess who the author was!!

But pride of place for the ‘over-reaction’ award went to Labour’s Peter Peacock who said:
“This is an extraordinary admission from Mr Salmond and an abuse of public money,”

“I would encourage everyone to come and play at Dornoch, but organising an entire Cabinet meeting to satisfy the golf needs of Alex Salmond is wrong.

“Not only is he hosting Cabinet meetings in seats the SNP are desperate to cling on to, but now he is building them around his golfing plans.”

“Taxpayers will be furious at funding Mr Salmond’s sporting holidays.”

Peacock added: “As the SNP government cut nurses and teachers across Scotland, Salmond continues to operate a lavish lifestyle at other people’s expense.”

Mr Peacock had obviously forgotten about Gordon Brown’s attempt at re-creating the SNP ‘walkabout’ when, at considerable public expense, he tried the same with the London cabinet – but omitted to invite members of the general public.  The only balls at those meetings was Ed.

The story does however allow us to relate a humorous exchange that was broadcast during last year’s Open golf championship when former Ryder Cup captain Mark James was asked how he coped with extreme cold when playing a round.

Mr James replied that he did nothing differently but that fellow pro Ken Brown used to “dip his balls in a bowl of warm water before teeing off”.

As Peter Peacock might say “This is an extraordinary admission”.

If you found this article interesting why not make a small contribution in order to help keep the site going – see the paypal button on the right.

newsnetscotland.com