Leader comment: Plain speaking

SCOTTISH Conservative leader Annabel Goldie is not generally associated with strong language. She exudes a sense of old-style middle-class gentility such as is found in golf clubs and bowling clubs up and down the land where ladies of substance exchange social courtesies.

Despite a playful nature and a reputation for the occasional risqu aside, she is the last MSP one would ever characterise as being coarse. So when she accuses her political opponents of "bullshitting" the public, the terminology is newsworthy in itself.

Goldie is promising a simpler and more direct approach to politics from the Tories. In that she has undoubtedly captured the public mood. The poisoned legacy of "spin" which dominated British politics under New Labour lingers on as much in Scotland as anywhere else. Weasel words have damaged trust in the political process as badly as MPs' expenses. In politics, language matters.

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So it is refreshing to hear the matronly Tory leader indulge in plain speaking. Inevitably it will attract condemnation from language purists but, provided she does not make a habit of it, or base her everyday vocabulary on gangsta rappers, she has probably done herself nothing but good. Goldie is more than a Carry On character or Scotland's answer to Ann Widdecombe. She is the spokeswoman for a significant but often disregarded section of Scottish society. If employing some bar-room language once in a while helps give her party a voice, that advantage heavily outweighs any considerations of "unladylike" behaviour offending the unco guid.