Emma Cowing: Let's get serious - this is a job for Gok Wan

Share this article

IF YOU watched last week's STV leaders' debate between the heads of the four main Scottish political parties - and if you did, you have my sympathies - then you can't have failed to notice the star of the show.

Bright, bold and at the forefront of every discussion, it was a mesmerising performance on every level. Yes, I do believe that had it not been for the presence of Tavish Scott's shocking pink tie, most of us would switched off after the first ten minutes.

It must be depressing to be outshone by what you're wearing, particularly if it involves polyester. And yet, as the Scottish election campaign judders into life, the party leaders have so far displayed exactly the sort of sartorial judgement that once again marks Scotland out as the country where fashion comes to die.

Iain Gray, who looked like he'd arrived at the STV studios last week straight from the undertakers, has made some baffling wardrobe decisions of late. Whoever told him that a dark shirt works with a dark suit should be dispatched to the nearest opticians immediately, while the less said about that bizarre side parting the better. He is capable of being dapper on occasion - his suits are often well cut and he knows how to wear a pair of cufflinks - but he's in constant danger of looking like he's just shuffled off the set of a badly lit Boden's catalogue photo shoot.

Alex Salmond meanwhile, is clearly still keen on his novelty ties. Last week he popped up on a riverbank for a spot of fly fishing with Christine Grahame (an event which curiously, the latest Paris fashion shows did not think to provide an outfit for) wearing a jaunty blue and white number covered in tiny saltires. I've seen this tie before - most memorably on the day it was declared the SNP had won the 2007 election, although to be fair, it was slightly obscured on that occasion by the canary feathers' protruding from Salmond's mouth. Salmond has a number of these sorts of ties. Really, someone should tell him we all got the "joke" a long time ago.

Annabel Goldie, I think, deserves a modicum of sympathy.

Despite being a woman and therefore theoretically having more clothing choices than the men, I actually think that were she to turn up to work in anything other than the smart skirt suits she has favoured in recent years, a pair of trousers say, everyone would faint in shock. Instead, she spices up proceedings with a procession of colourful necklaces (I've spotted green, blue and red ones so far) that look as though they've been strung together using dinosaur eggs, as well as the inevitable handbag, in which I think it would be safe to assume she does not carry around a copy of the latest edition of Vogue.

Tavish Scott's retina zapping pink tie not withstanding, he is probably the most conservative of the bunch sartorially, often draping his tall frame in the dull suit/eye-popping tie combo beloved of insurance salesmen and Liberal Democrats. Yesterday he was in the Borders in a lavender number that some fashion mavens may have counselled against with carrot coloured hair, but I'm sure he knew what he was doing.

The leaders' debates are all well and good, but personally, I would like to see a Scottish Election Special involving the party leaders being given a make over by Gok Wan.

Salmond could be shoehorned into a mustard yellow zoot suit and a pair of white patent loafers while Gok prances around declaring "it's all about the confidence Alex!", and the whole thing would culminate in a catwalk show where the leaders' display the results of a trolleydash around the summer clothing section of George at Asda, with the winner decided by the one who gets the? loudest applause.

Does what they're wearing really affect how anyone will vote? Probably not.

But sometimes, it's good to remind our politicians that when it comes to election time first impressions really do count.