by Sue Varley
Despite having called for the Prime Ministerial debates for Westminster last year, David Cameron objects to the ‘presidential style’ election we are now seeing for Holyrood. It occurred to me to wonder what form of competition he would prefer. It would have to be something that would give the others at least a chance against the formidable Alex Salmond who is proving that he is one of the most able politicians in Britain today. After all, that is why Dave is objecting. How about a TV game show?
Maybe Britain’s Got Talent – no that plays right into Alex’s presidential paws. Or possibly the Price Is Right? No, Alex has John Swinney on his side and the SNP manifesto does add up. Then I remembered Blind Date, one of the most popular and long-running Saturday evening entertainment shows of the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps Cilla Black could provide a format that would satisfy Cameron. Labour would go for it too since they are campaigning on issues that are contemporary with the show. It might go something like this.
Cilla: Hello everyone and welcome to Scotland’s Blind Date. Here we are with four lovely contestants each hoping to be the lucky one to be chosen by tonight’s voter for a five year Blind Date. Candidate Number One, tell us all what’s your name and what you stand for.
CN1: Hello Cilla, my name’s Alex and I stand for what is best for the people of Scotland.
Cilla: Well hello Alex, and do you think that voters in Scotland are interested in Scotland’s future?
Alex: They’re beginning to be Cilla, and I’m going to show them how great Scotland can be if they support my candidacy tonight.
Cilla: Good luck, Alex. (Moves on to Candidate Number Two.) Hello Candidate Number Two, what’s your name and what do you stand for?
CN2: Hello Cilla, my name’s Annabel, and I’m in favour of spending cuts.
Cilla: Hello Annabel. That’s quite an ambition you’ve got there but do the Scots want cuts?
Annabel: Well if they don’t, they certainly ought to.
Cilla: Right, Annabel. Good luck on tonight’s show. (Moves on to Candidate Number Three.) Hello Candidate Number Three, tell us your name and what you stand for.
CN3: Hello Cilla, my name’s Iain and I don’t stand for my anything, I just stand against everything Alex is for.
Cilla: Hello Iain, and do you think that’s likely to appeal to tonight’s voter?
Iain: Yes Cilla, it’s gone down well with all my friends in Holyrood for the last four years.
Cilla: Well good luck to you too, Iain. (Moves on to Candidate Number Four.) Hello Candidate Number Four, tell us what your name is and what you stand for.
CN4: Hello Cilla. I’m Tavish and I’ve got a great plan to sell off Scottish Water.
Cilla: Hello Tavish, will you be allowed to keep the money in Scotland if you do that?
Tavish: No idea Cilla, but I certainly hope so.
Cilla: Well good luck Tavish. I’d like to wish all our candidates a lorra, lorra luck here tonight on Scotland’s Blind Date. Nowlet’s meet our voter who will be choosing one of these lucky leaders. (Moves round screen to voter.) Hello Voter. Tell us why you’re here tonight.
Voter: Hello Cilla, hello candidates. I’m here with my three questions tonight to try and find out which of the four contestants I should choose to best lead Scotland for the next five years. Here’s my first question. I value honesty, I like to know who I can trust and where I stand. If I choose you tonight, will it be you or your boss who makes the decisions, and can I trust you to do what you say. I’ll ask Annabel that question first please.
Annabel: Well voter, my boss is Dave down in London and he holds the purse strings. You know you can trust us to make cuts because that’s what we always do. We’re full of common sense and respect for Scotland so we’ll cut your budget for things like health, public services, education funding, and we’ll also cut Scotland’s share of all UK government spending, especially those air bases up in Moray. Then we can put new nuclear submarines on the Clyde and new railways in England. It’s called the Union Dividend, voter.
Iain: Hello voter. The whole point of this election is to deliver Scotland to my boss Ed down in London. He tells me what to do because I couldn’t buy a clue if I ran into a Subway sandwich shop. What’s that, they don’t sell clues? Oh well maybe I’ll try Asda in Ardrossan then. As for trust, of course you can trust me to oppose everything Alex wants to do. Haven’t you been paying attention for the last four years?
Tavish: Hello voter. I’m afraid my boss Nick, who also happens to be in London, is a bit of a fibber really and he’ll say anything that will get him elected. But it’s only a coincidence that he’s in the same party as me, so please judge me on my record, not his.
Alex: Hello voter, I lead the party who puts Scotland first so I’m not controlled by a boss in London, in fact I am the boss and I’m backed up by a first class team. You know you can trust us when you look at everything we’ve achieved as a minority Government over the last four years despite the London parties’ negativity and destructive opposition.
Voter: Thanks everyone. Here’s my second question. I keep hearing about oil in the North Sea, someone once said it was Scotland’s oil and everyone else said it would soon run out, it was too volatile for us to control and it would wreck our economy. Norway has lots of oil too and it’s a really wealthy country. Can you explain that please? Iain first this time.
Iain: Since I stand against everything Alex is for, I have to say here that it’s Britain’s oil and Britain can spend the profit on building more nuclear power plants in Scotland to supply electricity to London, where my boss is. As for Norway, I can insult them just as easily as I can insult Montenegro when I’m opposing Alex.
Tavish: My pal Danny says there’s enough revenue from oil to knock a penny off the price of a litre of petrol for everyone in Britain. That’s good, isn’t it?
Alex: I agree with you voter, it is Scotland’s oil. The Westminster government refused to set up an oil fund for Scotland, but has quietly relied on the income from Scotland’s oil for decades while wrecking the Scottish economy and telling lies to our people. If you choose me I will do everything I can to gain control of Scotland’s assets to rebuild Scotland for the benefit of the people of Scotland. Don’t let anyone deceive you voter, in the United Nations Human Development Index, Norway is the nation with the best quality of life in the world. We want to see that level of prosperity for Scotland too.
Annabel: There’s plenty of oil voter but Scotland can’t have it because the UK needs it. Dave’s going to make sure that London will get the benefit of every last drop of oil in the North Sea. I’d rather not talk about Norway.
Voter: Thanks everybody, that makes things a bit more clear. Last question to Tavish first please. What makes you a good choice for First Minister.
Tavish: I’m not interested in personality contests, but at least I’m not Nick.
Alex: I have a strong positive vision for a revitalised Scotland. I have the people who can bring this vision to reality, and my team has the support of industrialists, economists, trade unionists, renewable energy experts, retiring Liberal Democrat MSPs, and ex-Labour campaigners. That’s why you should choose me as First Minister to lead Scotland’s Government for a further five years.
Annabel: If you look at the how the opinion polls assess the four of us, you’ll see I’m second best so you should pick me.
Iain: I’ve relaunched my campaign yet again. Ed’s getting very tetchy, so please pick me. Did I say, I’m against everything Alex is for?
Cilla: Well voter, that’s your three questions. While you think about the answers we would have liked to show you what happened on last year’s show when the Scottish voter chose Gordon for a Blind Date in Westminster. But when Gordon stood him up, the voter was left to a ménage-a-trois with Dave and Nick and since this is a family show we’re not able to show you the footage. So back to tonight’s contestants and here’s our Graham with a quick reminder.
Graham: Will you choose Alex, he’s his own boss with a strong team and a great record in government. He’ll enthuse you with his positive vision for Scotland if you pick him. Or how about Annabel, she says she’s full of common sense and respect, but she’s happy to be second best. Then there’s Iain who’s against everything Alex is for, and wants to hand you over to London to save Ed’s job, but never mind about yours. Or how about Tavish, can we trust him when he says he’s not Nick, or is he heading for a watery grave?
Voters of Scotland, on 5th May the decision is yours.