I don’t mind politicians muscling in on the Fringe – some of them are funnier than the comedians - Susan Dalgety

There’s an old saying that politics is showbiz for ugly people. Far be it from me to suggest that any of the former First Ministers or even failed Labour leaders appearing at this year’s Festival Fringe are, well, ugly – but they do love the limelight.

In days gone by, a Fringe show featuring a politician would be a rarity. A few exalted ex-government ministers occasionally made a personal appearance at the Book Festival to promote their memoirs or interview a proper author, but none of them made the crossover from politics to showbiz.

But in recent years, performances starring politicians have become increasingly popular.

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This year, there are at least a dozen politicians headlining Fringe shows, and Wes Streeting’s Book Festival appearance sold out within an hour. I know because I failed to get a ticket.

Who is Wes Streeting, I hear you cry? The cherubic-faced MP for Ilford North is Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Health and a wannabe Prime Minister.

He is ostensibly appearing at the Festival to promote his new memoir, One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up, but he’s really nurturing his political career.

Unlike most politicians, Streeting at least has an interesting back story to tell. He grew up in poverty in London, his grandfather was an armed bank robber, and his granny once shared a cell with Christine Keeler – who was at the centre of the Profumo Affair, the biggest political scandal of the 1960s.

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In his show, he will tell former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson how he made his way from a council flat in Stepney to Labour’s front bench, via Cambridge and student politics (the boring bits).

Among other politicians booked to appear in this year’s Fringe is Jeremy Corbyn, once tipped by a handful of people to be Prime Minister, now an ‘independent’ backbench MP.

Nicola Sturgeon and her successor as First Minister, Humza Yousaf, are both set to make an appearance, as is Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour.

But their shows pale into insignificance compared to the political extravaganza promised by Alex Salmond.

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If Salmond had not gone into politics, he would have made a great carnival barker. He loves the limelight.

This year he has pulled off a bit of a coup with his show, ‘The Ayes Have It! The Ayes Have It!’. He has secured the appearance of one of the world’s most famous actors, Brian Cox, to play the part of Commons speaker in a “boisterous” debate in the Speigeltent for two nights.

Cox, fresh from his role as media tycoon Logan Roy in the hit show Succession, will no doubt relish shouting “Order, order” at Salmond – all in good fun, of course.

Other shows will see former First Minister Henry McLeish play the Speaker role, and real-life former Speaker John Bercow will relive his glory days for an evening or two.

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But the star of the show’s week long run will undoubtedly be Cox, with Salmond a great supporting act.

A self-confessed political junkie, I don’t mind politicians muscling in on the Fringe. Some of them are (accidentally) funnier than the comedians who dominate the Festival programme.

But is politics the new rock ‘n’ roll? Hardly.

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