FMQs sketch: Forget the 'bombshell' truth, we're watching electoral trench warfare

There’s a point at which claiming something is a ‘bombshell’ begins to lose its meaning and with the Salmond Inquiry we reached that point several months ago.

Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson went to head to head during First Minister's Questions
Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson went to head to head during First Minister's Questions

Indeed, so many ‘bombshells’ have fallen around the Salmond Inquiry that the foundations of any semblance of reality has turned to rubble, with only the fuzzy outlines of the truth visible amongst the collapsed reputation of Holyrood and its MSPs.

Ahead of the election, Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson have dug in, constructing the deepest ditches protected by ideological barbed wire and willing foot soldiers.

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We are no longer in a phoney war, this is all out electoral trench warfare, playing out inside Holyrood.

The First Minister may well want us to forget that key questions have still gone unanswered by the Scottish Government around the Salmond Inquiry.

"Quite astounded” she may be that the leader of the Scottish Tories would bring up allegations first raised by a Tory MP, but “quite transparent” the government has not been.

She continued and referred to David Davis’ intervention in Westminster, saying “although parliamentary privilege might confer all sorts of protection, unfortunately for Mr Davis, it does not turn falsehood into fact”.

Davidson responded in kind, “I do not deal in conspiracies, I deal in facts”, she said, forgetting her own party cared about as little about the facts before Sturgeon’s appearance in front of the committee as the Scottish Government did during the judicial review.

“Day by day, week by week, and drip by drip, more evidence comes to light,” the soon-to-be-peer added, delighting at the mud being thrown up as bombshells continue to explode close enough to wound but rarely targeted enough to be fatal.

The simple fact of the matter, though, is that the opposite has happened.

Any attempt at connecting different strands of evidence has been blown apart by “bombshell” leaks and distorted and warped by partisanship.

And the reasons for why this war is being fought in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament are long forgotten along with the women complainers.

Instead we are subject to the worst of Scottish politics, where its most high-profile figures engage in angry exchanges dedicated solely to electoral gains and self-preservation.

There is no whataboutery that will get either party out of this malaise.

Davidson gave her general’s game away in her last question, stating “should it not be them all” who lose their job, referring to the First Minister, her chief of staff, and the permanent secretary.

Sturgeon was no better, stating that the verdict as to who wins the war will be given by the Scottish people in May.

Nasty elections often leave voters with a bitter taste in their mouths and it is rarely edifying for politicians.

But Scotland is now engaged in the ugliest of electoral trench warfare where those exchanging blows seem to have forgotten for whom they are fighting.

Regardless of who wins, it is Scotland’s institutions, wrecked by insinuation, undermined by ego, and subject to destructive partisan tendencies that will have to rebuild themselves from the wreckage.

Time will tell whether it was worth the bombshell’s destruction.

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