We know only a few of you sit through these long video clips, but for the benefit of those who do this is a slightly unusual debate organised by the Prospect trade union and chaired by Magnus Gardham of the Herald, which took place at the union’s conference in Glasgow last month and saw Anas Sarwar and Nicola Sturgeon quizzed on some quite specific topics by various representatives of civic Scotland.
Readers can, as ever, come to their own conclusions as to which of the two gave the most convincing and honest answers, but one line from early on did leap out at us.
It came before the Q&A section, in the bit where the participants were giving their short opening speeches. 13 minutes in, Anas Sarwar tried a line often used by Labour:
“Actually constitutional politics change nobody’s life – apart from the politician themselves, who gets more power.”
We apologise on his behalf for the mangled syntax. But even on the superficial level that pithy line’s not entirely true, is it, Anas? Because you’re a Westminster MP, and you wouldn’t get more power. You, and dozens of your Scottish Labour colleagues, would in fact be out of a cushy, well-paid job with lavish expenses, a gold-plated pension and a chance of a lifelong £300-a-day gig in the House Of Lords on top.
It’s remarkably disingenuous to try to play an anti-politician card when you’re fighting to cling onto your own personal gravy train. Whether you agree with their cause or not, it’s undeniably true that SNP MPs are campaigning vigorously to make themselves unemployed, and the party’s MSPs want to take on much more responsibility for no more money, and face a lot more internal competition for their seats.
We’d have considerably more respect for Scottish Labour MPs (which admittedly isn’t a high bar to clear) if a single one of them admitted their own massive personal vested interest in keeping Scotland in the UK.
But if that’s a bit much to ask, maybe they should at least have the dignity to not try to adopt the Nigel Farage-style “man-of-the-people” outsider pose.