Today’s First Ministers Questions saw Iain Gray pursue the same topic as he had done last week – namely the proposals from health boards to be allowed to reduce their head count, or as Iain Gray puts it ‘NHS Cuts’.

The exchanges between the Labour group leader and the First Minister resulted in the same points being made as had been made already.  Gray grasped his ‘comfort blanket’ of a sheet of A4 paper as he rhymed off those boards who wish to lower their head count.  Salmond responded with his own blanket of statistics demonstrating what the First Minister described as the “SNP’s commitment to the NHS”.

The Labour leader’s decision to ask pretty much the same questions as he had done last week came across as not so much an encore but more a reheat of a leftover dinner.  The SNP health secretary had already given a comprehensive explanation of the NHS changing dynamic and why exactly head counts were changing in response to these altering circumstances.

Last week Gray had yelled ‘cuts, cuts, cuts’.  This week he altered the chant slightly by prefixing the word ‘cuts’ with the letters ‘SNP’ and then proceeded to shout that instead, stabbing his finger at Salmond at every word.  It only resulted in the First Minister responding in kind by reminding all of the £500 million budgetary cuts inflicted by Labour.

Gray’s rehearsed jokes were also there as he yelled ‘More Nats less Nurses’, a clear reference to the SNP campaign slogan.  Then followed a play on the Tory / Lib Dem alliance (Con-Dem) when Gray referred to Salmond as the Con MAN – yep, it was as bad as it reads.

As usual though the First Minister, with the last word, used it to good effect when he referred to an article in The Daily Mail where Labour’s finance spokesman Andy Kerr made comments criticising the SNP’s decision to delay the budget cuts this year.

Salmond berated both Gray and his finance spokesman, pointing out the bizarre situation of a Labour politician calling for the SNP to introduce Tory cuts.

Annabelle Goldie focussed her attentions on minimum pricing and urged the SNP to drop their plans, unlikely given the strength of support for the plans amongst Scotland’s police chiefs and health professionals.

Tavish Scott deployed the ‘work together’ argument arguing that the SNP ought to work constructively with the new UK government.  Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that the Lib Dems now form half of that UK government.  This is the second week that Tavish has acted as a cheer leader for the new Westminster coalition – could he be after Danny Alexander’s job?

The First Minister employed a stock reply that he will co-operate whenever Scotland’s interests require it.

However the Richard Baker ‘Oops’ award goes to Robert Brown of the Lib Dems who after suggesting that the planned pilot use of Tazer guns may be unlawful without ministerial permission, was reminded that in 2006 the then justice secretary Cathie Jamieson stated “The deployment of tazer guns is an operational matter for chief constables”.  Brown's party of course formed part of that coalition as well - is there any party the Lib Dems won't form an alliance with? ... hmmm.

The First Minister also pointed out that Tazer guns were considered to be firearms and as such the legislation covering the use of said devices is reserved to Westminster.  He then called for the chamber to join the Scottish government in it's bid to have the powers devolved.

Finally – is it me or does Iain Gray suffer a mild form of the ‘Roy Hatterslies’?  He does tend to spit out his words.


# robbie 2010-05-20 17:35
Gray seems to be making a bigger fool of himself at FMQ,s every week.
Andy Kerr certainly stiched Gray up with the daily mail comments.!!!Hee hee!!!.Nice one Andy!!!! Is Kerr after Gray,s job?

Labour really are a joke.
# Teri 2010-05-20 17:47
I think Ian Gray stuck to the same questions this week as the media seemed to think they were a winner last week. He has to learn that it only works once and you need fresh topics a week later. Still I thought the labour benches@ behaviour was much better this week
# Clare 2010-05-20 21:20
Well think about it Robbie........he was after Wendy's wasn't he?
# bullywee 2010-05-20 18:04
And Alex Salmond repeated that he wanted to join a progressive coalition with New labour despite stating that they had ruined the economy of the country.Must be nice to work in local authority/public sector to be given guarantee that their will be no compulsory redundancies.Wonder who funds this?
# Clare 2010-05-20 21:22
I think the common factor was the wish to keep the Tories out Bully......and of course Labour would not have had it all their own way with all the other Parties in the coalition. Consensus I think they call it. Sadly, not a word Labour respond to very well. They're more comfy with absolute power.
# bullywee 2010-05-21 09:25
Locked in the past.Keep the Tories out.Keep widening the difference between rich and poor.Rob pensioners and low paid.Criminalise people who read out the names of war dead at the cenotaph,wear t Shirts criticising the government,try to protest within one mile of parliament,mild ly heckle at the Labour conference,Lock up immigrant children behind barbed wire,invade sovereign countries.Will I go on.Do you actually think Labour would concede Salmond's fiscal demands and change the right wing policies that they have carried out since it changed its stripes.
# Lian 2010-05-21 02:38
work with people who don't to work with you
# mato21 2010-05-20 22:53
And if power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely Now that has a ring of truth to it
# .Scot 2010-05-21 01:13
Iain Gray is really such an idiot. It is a shame he is unable to get the support of thirty three MPs for the leadership of Dead Labour.

On a more serious not, the d,d, d, d d and salivation problems Gray suffers from (earning him the nick-name Elmer Fudd) is from self inflicted chain-smocking of strong cigarettes in youth. I thought Salmond was on top form as he reminded Gray that his party was in the Tories seat two weeks ago and also ran from blocking the Tories ruling over us all. Labour can no longer claim that the SNP are responsible for letting the Tories in through the back door.
# Lian 2010-05-21 02:00
Mr Gray, Salmond and the Rest should sort that all out without this baying.

I would rather people could come and ask a question of their First Minister in a different way
# G.Macp 2010-05-21 06:58
Well I watched FMQ's last night and I'm amased that I.Gray script writer hasn't been sacked! Same old,same old!
He reminds me of a boxer who just will not stay down, they just keep getting up for more! He has never gotten the better of AS yet he gives it his best shot each week and fails!
Funny how labour are in such a bad way just now, no power anywhere, they must feel aweful!! :O)
# hektorsmum 2010-05-21 10:16
Watched FMQ's too and consider the behaviour of the Labour Party as disgraceful. They are trying to bring the same rubbish that goes on in Westminster into our Parliament and this should be quelled forthwith.
# brusque 2010-05-21 10:16
It is difficult (but not impossible) not to feel sorry for Gray. He was tailor made for playing stooge to the FM, and I'm quite convinced that the likes of Andy Kerr and Jackie Baillie get much amusement when Gray takes a hammering at FMQs.............despite the gnashing of teeth and caterwauling, they would all sell a relative for the Leadership job!
# mato21 2010-05-21 10:32
Yesterdays FMQs yesterday was a vast improvement on what has gone before The e-mails to the PO and others have obviously had an effect though some behind IGray were struggling to contain themselves.The PO was also a little more forceful than he has previously been.I suggest anyone who is concerned about the behaviour contact the Parliament. Only if we demand higher standards will we get them It is our Parliament after all the MSPs are only there through our goodwill
# Clare 2010-05-21 20:12
Mato I intend to take your advice. When I do I will remind Mr Fergusson that such behaviour isn't just a reflection on our parliament it is also a reflection on him. He is there to keep order and if such scenes persist its because he is failing in his duty.

I have to say I hate it when Salmond shouts back at them. I am happier when he doesn't raise his voice. Far more effective.

Thinking back to my schooldays and learning how good debate should be conducted it is astonishing that the Scottish and UK Parliaments so often have on display conduct of the most appalling kind. What an example!
# G.Macp 2010-05-21 12:19
I have to agree, I thought FMQ's was a bit better controlled!
Interesting what Brusque was saying about Kerr and Baillie, if they were leader I think it would be the same! I can see nobody worth much in the labour ranks at Holyrod.
Here's hoping next May see's the SNP increase their numbers!
# Clare 2010-05-21 20:08
Kerr wanted the job Gray got. He wanted the job Wendy Alexander got. I could say more but I will upset the O/L Ed so I'll be good. ; )

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