MSPs’ clashes are fit for Westminster

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There is more to the behaviour of politicians at First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) than meets Robert IG Scott’s eye (Letters, 12 February).

If Alex Salmond and the SNP are behaving as he 
alleges, then they are matching exactly the pattern set by, for example, Jack (now Lord) ­McConnell and Labour. 
McConnell seldom answered a question and would instead launch one attack after another on the policies, real or imagined, of the SNP.

That is on the official record for those interested enough to look it up. And Mr Scott should remove his blinkers to observe the antics of the Labour back- and front-benchers.

His use of the term ­“debate” is misplaced – it is a question time. What turns it into a debate are the interminable introductory ramblings of the so-called questioners, who often have to be reminded by the Presiding Officer to ask one.

The politicians have made the running. Ten years ago, when I raised with him my disquiet about the conduct of FMQs, my MSP said the structure and nature of the proceedings were covered 
by Standing Orders (para 13.6) and there is no proscription (or prescription) for 
the style or manner of the questioning.

It would be difficult to apply such a proscription/prescription: it would require judgment of the suitability of any single question compared with any other that might be debarred.

As there is some common ground between Mr Scott and myself, we could perhaps both write to our respective MSPs seeking some civilising of the system.

Regarding his assertion about Scotland’s stability under the Union, and the suitability of respective party leaders, the democratic process allows for him to vote for the allegedly charismatic Alex Salmond who wins elections, or to be swayed by the endearing qualities he recognises in Labour leader Johann Lamont with her positive poll rating barely into single figures, and her party’s economic mess and the record public spending deficit.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent


Your correspondents Robert Scott and John Kelly both complain about Alex Salmond’s conduct when answering questions from the opposition parties. I attended last week’s session of First Minister’s Questions and found myself wishing that Mr Salmond would shout louder.

I’m not deaf, but I had difficulty hearing him speak due to the raucous din, mainly from Labour MSPs, practically the whole time he was on his feet.

A bit of ya-booing and playing to the gallery is one thing, but when it comes to the appalling treatment of elected representatives, look 400 miles to the Westminster parliament, where the SNP MPs, who have been elected to make points and ask questions on behalf of their constituents, are invariably treated with contempt and disdain by the coalition government, which was not elected by the Scottish people, and is led by a Conservative Prime Minister who has only one MP to his name in Scotland.

Ruth Marr

Grampian Road


Robert Scott lays the blame for his disillusionment with First Minister’s Questions at the door of the SNP. Having recently returned to Scotland from a year’s study abroad I, too, have become a regular viewer.

The first thing that struck me when watching was how mediocre the leaders of the three unionist parties seem to be. I thought I had a fair grasp of politics but even I had to resort to Google for information as to who they all were.

Are they really the best and brightest that Labour, the ­Tories and Liberal Democrats can offer the Scottish Parliament?

Granted, there are some promising talents on the opposition benches such as Labour’s Jenny Marra and Kezia Dugdale, but too many of the non-SNP politicians seem to do little but snarl at their Nat opponents and appear to be utterly humourless.

I am not a great fan of Alex Salmond but he can at least answer a question without mangling the English language and his team seem to be a lot more professional and, above all, normal than many of those on the opposition benches.

Sophie L Anderson

Dove Street