Of FMQ questions there were plenty but answers came there none
SCANDALS – you wait ages for one to come along, and then two arrive at once.
Well, in the accusatory eyes of Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson at FMQS they do.
The Scottish Tory leader was convinced there was a scandal in secondary education. Pupils were being denied a decent range of exams to fail, she told the First Minister. What gives?
Like the student who comes with a pre-prepared essay to write regardless of the test, Ms Sturgeon began reeling off stats about something else entirely.
“I don’t know whether Ruth Davidson is talking specifically about Advanced Highers (she wasn’t) but the number of young people leaving our schools with them is increasing,” she mused.
Eh no, frowned Ms Davidson, I’m talking about subject choice getting narrower, and the poorer your postcode, the narrower the choice. Ms Sturgeon cantered off on another amiable tangent.
“I am talking about subject choice!” grimaced Ms Davidson, noting 70 per cent of schools in the poshest bits offered 12 or more exams, but just 11% did in the most deprived areas.
Tsk, tsk, what really mattered, sighed the FM, was the rising number of exam passes among the poor, not what they passed.
Or to paraphrase Henry Ford: You can sit any subject you like so long as it’s woodwork.
Ms Davidson had had a gutful. “There’s a scandal going on in secondary schools right now,” she exploded. “The Government is curtailing the choice of our young people to purse the same broad-based education as the First Minister enjoyed.” Ms Sturgeon showed the fruits of that education with a first-rate distraction.
“There has indeed been a scandal in Scottish politics this week. It involved the resignation of one of Ruth Davidson’s front benchers,” she crowed.
This was a dig at North East farmer and sometime MSP Peter Chapman, who had lobbied councillors on a planning case without mentioning his £50,000 stake in the group behind it. An easy detail to forget.
Nat backbenchers loved it. I swear I could hear a familiar refrain drifting up to the gallery. “Peter Chapman loved to lobby, E-I-E-I-O. With a phone call here, and a phone call there…”
Tory MSPS howled in anguish. “Shameful,” they cried, meaning Ms Sturgeon’s attack, not Mr Chapman’s murky shenanigans.
A telling choice which surely made scandal number three.