Debate the real winner in The Ayes Have it, The Ayes Have It.
Last week I had the privilege, along with my wife, of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Event ‘The Ayes Have It, The Ayes Have It’ led by Alex Salmond and the show producer and creator Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.
Travelling down I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen comments on twitter and Facebook, and in my mind I thought it might be a question time/debate night style of show.
I couldn’t have been further off the mark.
When we walked in, there was clips of all the casts contributions in Westminster and Holyrood to build up the excitement. After getting drinks and settling into our seats, Tasmina Ahmed- Sheikh came out to introduce the show. She announced that Bernard Ponsaby, the STV political editor, who was supposed to be the speaker for the night, had received the sad news his mother had passed away.
The thoughts of the cast, audience and all involved were expressed to be with him and his family in these sad times.
This led to Alex Salmond stepping in and taking on the role of speaker.
An unconfirmed rumour suggested that a Perthshire MP had unsuccessfully submitted his CV last minute to be considered as the speaker of the house (a light hearted joke of course Mr Wishart).
The show kicked off with the Aye’s Kate Forbes making a vigorous case for Independence followed by David Davies making his case for the Union.
Kate, as always, made a case that was almost impossible to argue, and I have to admit I was alsoimpressed with David – he read the room and knew the audience weren’t on his side, so played on the humour and audience engagement.
For me a politician has three jobs when speaking publicly. Know your brief. Read the room.
Appeal to your intended audience.
Kate achieved this with her impeccable knowledge on figures of the Scottish economy and her natural likeability and David did this by relating to our Scottish humour and mixing that in with his brief to get his message across.
Therefore, in my view both opening speeches were good in their own right.
The seconding speeches, first by Jim Eadie former SNP MSP, followed by Sir Brian Donohoe former Labour MP, were a bit more questionable.
Jim made a favourable comment that it was Winnie Ewing that said with her characteristic flair and panache “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on”.
Then it was the turn of Sir Brian, who made relatively decent points to start, but his speech didn’tgo down quite as well with the audience. In fact, it was maybe only time there was anger portrayed from the floor, when he quoted the line “Home rule is Rome rule”.
Thankfully, up next were the students of Broxburn Academy, 17 year old Emma, making the case for the Aye’s and 14 year old Sarah speaking for the No’s.
Emma made the case exceedingly for Independence and why is it essential, while Sarah didn’t dis-agree with the merits of Independence, she made a very strong case that we needed a bigger margin of support before we reclaim our Independence.
Both of the young ladies’ courage and conviction could have easily swung the vote and I am sure everyone in attendance would agree that our current politicians could learn a thing or two from these fantastic young ladies.
Finally it came to the vote, and given the concept of the show I think its fair to say the bookies wouldn’t have even offered odds on the outcome of results.
However, in my opinion the real winner here was the lesson for true debate to define and outline our principled, sovereign right to democracy.
Tasmina, Alex and David have done a fantastic job in reminding us of how politics can and in my personal opinion should be done.
Debate and democracy is something we are so missing in this country and “The Ayes Have It” showed an example of how we can bring that back.
I hope our current politicians can learn from this as well as future politicians in an Independent Scotalnd.
For if we want to stop the world while Scotland gets on, we must define our aspiration for when we reach that destination