They howled like it was a ken­nel on a full moon...

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - by Stephen Dais­ley

LIkE a provin­cial pub trib­ute act, no one knew why they were on stage, who had booked them, or where the real band was. It’s not so much that the four lead­ers fea­tured on last night’s elec­tion de­bate were all one-hit won­ders (Richard Leonard could only dream of such fame), but that none of them are ac­tu­ally head­line acts in this elec­tion.

None – nei­ther Leonard, nor Ni­cola Stur­geon, nor Jack­son Car­law, nor Wil­lie Ren­nie – are stand­ing for West­min­ster.

Still, it could have been worse. They could have let Ian Black­ford on TV again.

As it was, STV pulled out all the stops. A plain white screen with oc­ca­sional dashes of colour served as the back­drop to a few hastily ar­ranged per­spex podi­ums. That’ll teach Loose Women to leave their store cup­board un­locked.

STV’s po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor Colin Mackay made the best of a bad for­mat, prod­ding clock­talk­ers and waf­fle-bur­blers to get to the point, but even­tu­ally he re­alised he was beat and let them get on with howl­ing like it was a ken­nel on a full Moon.

Mackay tried to pin them all down on their fond­ness for un­fet­tered spend­ing – ‘are you gonna shake that money tree?’ – but they were here to de­mand that each other apol­o­gise for some­thing.

Stur­geon wanted Ren­nie to apol­o­gise for the coali­tion, Leonard de­manded Car­law apol­o­gise for much of the 1980s (well, some­one ought to atone for Phil Collins), and Ren­nie ex­pected the Scot­tish Tory leader to do penance for Boris Johnson’s old news­pa­per col­umns.

I could quite hap­pily have gone through my en­tire life with­out hear­ing Wil­lie Ren­nie de­scrib­ing some of the Prime Min­is­ter’s more colour­ful copy.

Oh for the more in­no­cent times when the Scot­tish Lib Dem leader just took part in daft pic­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Car­law picked up on the theme, di­rect­ing the First Min­is­ter to her var­i­ous hos­pi­tal scan­dals and the lat­est ed­u­ca­tion sta­tis­tics. ‘You’re very quick to ask ev­ery­one else to apol­o­gise and whether they are ashamed,’ he yapped like a testy cocker spaniel that had just caught the cat dip­ping into his wa­ter bowl.

‘Are you shamed? Will you apol­o­gise?’

The SNP leader plunged her claws into his fleshy neck with an im­promptu quiz about how much child poverty was es­ti­mated to rise un­der the Tory man­i­festo.

Car­law didn’t know the an­swer and tried to step around the is­sue, awk­wardly. He plainly doesn’t be­lieve in some of his govern­ment’s cen­tral poli­cies.

The best he could do was urge Stur­geon to drop her ‘holier than thou at­ti­tude’.

THAT was un­fair. The First Min­is­ter could hardly in­vent a sec­ond per­son­al­ity for her­self on the spot. In­de­pen­dence, you will be shocked to learn, was what they all wanted to talk about. Stur­geon bar­racked ev­ery­one who dared sug­gest a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum re­quired a stur­dier le­gal un­der­pin­ning than the mere snap of her fin­gers.

‘You are not Scot­land, Ni­cola,’ Ren­nie screeched.

‘Ni­cola Stur­geon has not re­spected the out­come of any ref­er­en­dum, ex­cept for that one in Cat­alo­nia — and that was il­le­gal,’ Car­law zinged.

Stur­geon told him he would never be First Min­is­ter but he

does have a ca­reer on the stand-up cir­cuit to fall back on.

Ac­tu­ally, not ev­ery­one wanted to talk about in­de­pen­dence.

Leonard was more in­ter­ested in ‘peo­ple who don’t have se­cu­rity of em­ploy­ment’, un­der­stand­ably given the elec­tion cam­paign he’s had.

The low point came, though, when Car­law broke the news to him that yet an­other for­mer Labour MP was back­ing the Tories.

His face was red­der than the flag he’s al­ways bang­ing on about while com­plain­ing about oth­ers bang­ing on about flags. He tried to get past it by putting Wil­lie Ren­nie on the spot over Jo Swin­son’s record in govern­ment, but the feisty Fifer shut him down pronto: ‘Don’t come to me with these ques­tions when we had to clear up your mess!’

There have been more dig­ni­fied scenes in the Queen Vic at chuck­ing out time.

‘I bet most of you are wait­ing for I’m a Celebrity,’ the Tory leader quipped down the cam­era. No, Jack­son. We’ve had our fill of creeps and crawlers in this elec­tion.

All talk: Ni­cola Stur­geon, left, did not get things her own way at the TV de­bate with the other main party lead­ers, right, hosted by STV po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor Colin Mackay, cen­tre

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