Friday, June 24, 2011

SNP Candidate Anne McLaughlin wins Inverclyde Candidate debate on STV but Lib Dem Sophie Bridger hands Labour’s Iain McKenzie his ass on live TV

Dear All

The Inverclyde by-election is trundling along to the finish line on the 30th June.

At that point after the count we will get a declaration of who the new MP to represent the area will be.

Last night on the Politics Now show there was a debate between the four main Inverclyde by-election candidates.

Anne McLaughlin (SNP)
David Wilson (Conservative)
Sophie Bridger (Liberal Democrat)
Iain McKenzie (Labour)

The other candidate was Mitch Sorbie (Ukip) who wasn’t invited, a mistake by STV given there was only five people standing.

This was a chance for the candidates to ask questions of each other, specially prepared to make the opposition look awkward.

And of course Bernard Ponsonby usually drills it into anyone in the hot seat.

The SNP's Candidate is former MSP Anne McLaughlin got a rough ride on defence policy when she had to put her hands up and declare she didn’t know anything about defence policy of a future independent Scotland.

Funny enough this is something I have been going about for sometime, that people need to see how a new Scotland would look.

And that means detail.

However she did put in a decent performance in the round.

But, the highlight of the night was 20-year-old Lib Dem candidate Sophie Bridger's hugely satisfying slap-down of Labour's Iain McKenzie.

He decided to go on Labour’s fake knife crime policy.

A big mistake!

So, he asked her does she should mandatory sentencing then simply refusing to let her complete her answer to his question about why she didn't support mandatory prison sentences for carrying knives.

He kept repeatedly interrupting her with the patronising line "don't take that on the doors of Inverclyde, Sophie".

Helpful not!

Eventually she paused, fixed him with an icy glare, and asked him:

"Are you going to lecture me or are you going to let me answer your question?".

McKenzie was stopped dead in his tracks and looked totally out of his depth after being so effectively put down.

It was a version of ‘idiot shut up’.

And he duly did.

That was a political masterstroke however, she had a poor grasp of policy which she couldn’t hide or disguise.

The classic response by Ponsenby would be:

‘So, the answer is, you don’t know’!

Tory candidate David Wilson who is a councillor but doesn’t stand a hope in hell, trialled in with a decent performance and asked her a question she didn't have a scooby about.

Bridger was also left hanging by Ponsonby when he asked her what the coalition's biggest mistake had been.

Wouldn't he rather hear about all the good things the government had done, she implored?

"No" was the rather foreseeable answer to that one.

The worst performance of the evening was actually Labour leader of Inverclyde Council Iain McKenzie.

When asked about Labour MP Ian Davidson's charge that the SNP are "neo-fascists", he was all over the place, refusing to condemn him or say wherther he should step down as chair of the Scottish Select Committee he chaired.

McKenzie stressed that he wouldn't have used such language himself because he didn't want to drag politics down to "that level".

Which left the door open for the question was this gutter politics?

He replied:

"It's not gutter politics, it's Ian's type of politics".

Which is code for Iain’s special!

So, here is my score for the evening.

Anne McLaughlin (SNP) 7/10
David Wilson (Conservative) 5/10
Sophie Bridger (Liberal Democrat) 5/10
Iain McKenzie (Labour) 3/10
Mitch Sorbie (UKIP) 0/10

Everything is still to play for in the last week of this two horse race fight to the finish.

I am surprised that Iain McKenzie turned out to be so weak considering he is leader of the Council.

Not a great advertisement for being an MP.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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