Salmond shines in debate as Jim Murphy loses cool

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The Scottish leaders debate broadcast live by the BBC saw the SNP’s Alex Salmond come out on top against a trio of opponents representing Labour, Conservatives and LibDems….

The Scottish leaders debate broadcast live by the BBC saw the SNP’s Alex Salmond come out on top against a trio of opponents representing Labour, Conservatives and LibDems.

In a passionate affair that saw some heated exchanges the panellists were quizzed by an audience inside the Edinburgh Festival Theatre as well as probing questions from host Glenn Campbell.

The economic situation, Afghanistan, immigration and the possibility of a hung Westminster parliament all featured as the politicians made their pitch for our votes.  Salmond appeared at ease throughout and confidently fielded each of the questions.  Surprisingly David Mundell probably shaded second place from a disappointing Alistair Carmichael who never appeared to get going.

However it was Labour’s Jim Murphy who was memorable for all the wrong reasons when, questioned on his ‘flipping’ of his main residence, the Labour politician looked aghast and appeared to lose control as he accused the BBC host of making “very serious allegations”.

The bizarre outburst was not well received by the audience who had witnessed each of the panellists questioned over personal aspects of their own expenses claims.  A struggling Murphy then desperately tried to divert attention by launching a confused  attack on the other panellists but eventually conceded when pressed that he had indeed altered the address of his main residence.

Murphy’s performances in both the SKY and BBC debates will not have helped his or Labour’s cause and have confirmed what many people believed, that he would struggle under any serious scrutiny.  The Conservatives are now odds on favourites with betting chains Ladbrokes and William Hill to unseat Murphy in East Renfrewshire.

The debate was an improvement on the last effort at the BBC’s Pacific Quay HQ but was still disappointing in that the constitution was ignored.  Full fiscal autonomy, Calman and Labour’s proposed tax powers ought to have featured but didn’t.  There was also a lack of discussion on the proposed referendum on independence.

Notwithstanding the omissions of some subjects, Glenn Campbell seemed reasonably fair throughout, however he could have pressed Jim Murphy to cost his ‘everyone better in work’ claim in the same manner that he pressed Salmond over Trident figures.  Campbell also needs to stop trying to imply that the SNP and Tories have some sort of alliance at Holyrood.

The debate demonstrated one thing though and that is that had the SNP been afforded the same TV exposure as the London parties then they would almost certainly be expecting an even greater swing to themselves come polling day than the one they will surely now achieve.

Footnote:
The morning after the debate at 08:20 on Good Morning Scotland Alex Salmond was scheduled to be interviewed by Gary Robertson.  However BBC Scotland was once again hit by ‘technical difficulties’, a malaise that seems to materialise whenever there are broadcasts relating to the SNP.  The FM was forced to pick up a phone in order to speak to the radio presenter.

The issue immediately after this election must surely now be the behaviour of the state broadcaster in Scotland – the online forum ‘Blether with Brian’ also remains closed down whilst it’s other UK counterparts remain open.