Strictly Scores Are In…

We’ve discussed a few times now, the democratic gap in how the electorate can judge whether our politicians are living up to their promises.

We thought it might be fun to try a bit of ‘Strictly’ style judging of some politicians who’ve been in the news this week on their ‘footwork and performance’.

So who tops the leaderboard by being Fab-U-Lous and who’s failed to impress the judges, leaving them a likely contender for the electoral dance-off?

Matt Hancock – following his decision this week to step down as Tory MP to seek,

‘new ways for me to communicate with the public’
Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms)

Service to the public – 0/10 – Drops his ‘passion for politics’ at first sniff of a TV career thinks, as he now thinks ‘he’s a celebrity so he’s outta here!’

Tenacity – 3/10 a few points for his humiliating determination for celebrity status that had him move from ‘licking political posteriors’ to ‘eating bovine butts, amongst other delicacies…

Integrity – 0/10 – He stood for re-election as MP for West Suffolk in 2019 and took key Ministerial Roles, including most recently Health Secretary during Global Pandemic but demonstrated he was incapable of either following his own rules or seeing through any commitment.

Credibility 0/10 – despite holding Ministerial Roles from 2013 largely under the radar, his performance as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from 2018-2021 was what put him in the spotlight. His performance during the pandemic can be summarised by his ‘caught on CCTC camera’ kissing someone clearly not in his ‘immediate household’ during a global pandemic where he was leading on public messaging.

Trust – 0/10 – see above

Likeability – 1/10 – 1 point for the morbid curiosity factor of what he’ll do next.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 6/10 – not really for his individual impact (does he even know where Scotland is?) but contribution to cumulative Tory repulsion score which is pushing more Scots to the ‘independence cannae be any worse surely?’ position.

Gordon Brown – following his cuckoo clock (re/re/re)entry to the constitutional debate when the ‘independence event chimes’ rang!

Broontervention Time!

The paper – titled A New Britain – says Labour in government would offer “economic, social and constitutional innovations that can make the UK work better for the Scottish people”.

Service to public – 8/10 – UN Special Envoy for Global Education (unpaid), Ambassador for Global Health Financing by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other work donated to Gordon and Sarah Brown Foundation to support charitable endeavours. He does not sit in the House of Lords and still lives in his former constituency.

Tenacity – 8/10 can’t knock his clockwork-like emergence at the sniff of an uptick in independence support. Gordon Brown, considered ‘a big beast’ of Scottish politics, is our very own Scottish groundhog Kirkcaldy Gordy whose emergence into the media predicts an Independence ‘Spring’ in the same way Punxsutawney Phil’s emergence from his burrow indicates an early spring if he doesn’t see his shadow.

Integrity – 2/10 – Kirkcaldy Gordy’s latest emergence is a ‘shadow’ of his former ‘broonterventions’ as he has either forgotten his 2014 promises of ‘as close to federalism’ and the ‘most powerful devolved parliament in the world’ or he thinks we collectively have in Scotland! He is going for a trio approach now, flanked by Sir Keir and Anas who, between them just screech ‘representative of the working class’ and ‘core Labour values’. Suggestions welcome on a name for the Labour ‘boy band’, perhaps ‘The Unelected?’

Credibility 5/10 – difficult one as a former chancellor for 10 years and anointed Prime Minister, there’s a mixed bag of success and abject failure. His credibility on Scottish democracy from his increasingly incredulous pronouncements has lost him points here. His ‘independence footwork’ makes Ann Widdecombe look like a prima ballerina!

Trust – 0/10 – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, are you still here??

Likeability – 5/10 – An acquired taste I think it’s safe to say. Those who know him speak highly of his kindness, humour and loyalty. This suggests he needs a new PR team as it doesn’t cut across as he always seems to preach at Scotland, from an unelected pulpit, like we’re unruly parishioners for not believing in his personal faith in a broken union.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 8/10 – Now there are undoubtedly Scottish indy supporters who are Labour at heart and would align with much of what Brown stands for but this is where it gets interesting. Will Labour values trump independence aspirations this time?

Are Labour values more assured in an independent Scotland that on the spin of a UK electoral roulette wheel, where they have a track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of a (predicted in the polls) General Election victory?

Stephen Flynn – on his new arrival on the front stage of the UK Parliament as SNP MP’s new Group Leader.

To Sunak at Flynn’s first PMQs as SNP group leader, “Far be it from me to offer advice to a near-billionaire, but he’s going to have to up his game.”
Promising youngster?

Service to public – 5/10 – not much detail is known yet about Flynn as he was only elected in 2019 so has not had a chance to be re-elected by his constituency. His previous election as a councillor on Aberdeen City Council in 2015 was also a one-term position. Interestingly he became SNP Group Leader on the Council a year later in 2016 and was also a political researcher for SNP at both Holyrood and Westminster, both common SNP political career paths. Re-election is a good test of public service but Flynn has so far not been tested in this way as he’s ‘upgraded’ before re-election. The jury is out but we’d welcome constituents’ views of Flynn as a councillor and MP.

Tenacity – 10/10 This boy doesn’t lack ambition!

Integrity – 2/10 – Hmmm this needs work, given the early announcement of his challenge of Blackford for the group leader role, then the retraction/denial (rumoured to be after ‘words from Bute Hoose’) before the retraction of the retraction when he reannounced he was indeed to stand.

The dance of both Flynn and Blackford was full of spins and pivot turns as they covered the floor with perma-smiles and shrieks of ‘unity’ to distract the viewers from the cracks!

Credibility 5/10 – difficult one, as he has stepped up to defend the interest of jobs in his North East Constituency against proposed oil & gas taxes, even while FM was gushing about it. Have we seen enough substantive action yet? His first outing at PMQs was as good as I’m sure he hoped for. Flynn was assured and clinical in his delivery although I’m sure he thought Christmas had come early with IPOS STV indy poll news while in the chamber that provided the collateral for his set piece second question! “In that context, can I ask the Prime Minister, does he consider that increasing energy bills on energy-rich Scotland by a further £500 will cause those poll numbers to rise or to fall?”

This question was clever as it was a 1-2 to both Tory and Labour.

“What does he [Sunak] consider to be the greatest achievement of the Conservative Party in government since 2019: leaving the single market and customs union, ending freedom of movement, denying Scotland her democracy, or getting the Labour Party to agree with all of the above?”

Trust – 5/10 – The jury is out but some feel his announced replacement of the chief whip (and friend) Owen Thomson with Martin Docherty Hughes, seen by many as an ally of Nicola Sturgeon is a breach of trust. The late announcement of ‘running mate’ Mhari Black was sneaky and I’d suggest unwise after MPs had already come out to support his leadership bid. Power is a funny old thing that can come back to bite you and if it does you need your friends…

Now his new front bench announcements will tell us some of his intentions so we watch with interest. Is he giving the whip role as a gesture but doesn’t intend to use it as aggressively as it has been used, to corral an SNP position directed from Holyrood as Westminster becomes the focus of a potential ‘plebiscite’?

Likeability – 7/10 – The Holyrood Magazine piece from 2019 showed an amiable young husband and new dad who liked footy and was ambitious for himself and Scotland. Let’s see how he handles his new position of power to keep true to his values.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 8/10 – If from no other viewpoint than to fire up the damp, sooty embers of the SNP front bench for independence, then Flynn has scored here. Day 1 in a new job to receive a poll with 56% for yes, really is the dream start. This time the air must not be allowed to seep out the indy ballon so man the pumps and take a deep breath, as we need sustained energy now from the SNP and, creativity, not predictability. Game on!

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