Brian Monteith: Sturgeon's Oscars moment is hilarious

There's a serious problem developing within the First Minister's coterie. The charitable position is to say that she is being badly advised.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 3rd March 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:52 am
Nicola Sturgeon had her own Academy Awards moment this week
Nicola Sturgeon had her own Academy Awards moment this week

One might suggest that her media consultants, her political strategists and her pollsters are making a right funk of it. The advice they have been giving is at odds with reality and makes no rational sense.

Then again, being charitable does not save the First Minister from responsibility. After all, Nicola ­Sturgeon should be sensible enough to see a dumb idea, a logical fallacy or a whopping inconsistency a mile off. Surely the First Minister can always tell her policy wonks to get real and face the facts?

Being badly advised is no excuse – the First Minister should check her speeches before approving them, before her media team go out and brief the press – only to have to retract their words after the First Minister gave a different version.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, left, announces the actual Best Picture winner as Moonlight after a presentation error with host Jimmy Kimmel and actor Warren Beatty onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards. Picture: Getty

In case you missed it, Nicola Sturgeon had her own Academy Awards moment this week. She was giving an address to the David Hume Institute and her speech was heavily trailed by her team with an emphasis on a section that attacked the dreaded Tory Party (surprise, surprise). Everyone who would ­listen was told that the Conservatives at Westminster (where else?) were attacking “the very foundations of devolved parliament” which would have powers taken away. Many ­newspapers printed the story and it was all over the online reports

Only she never said it.

Such was the uproar and ­universal backlash against the comment even before it was said, that the First minster chose not to say it. Too late. Rather like the Academy Awards, the wrong envelope had been opened and her originally approved text had been reported to the world.

There are two things to come out of this hilarious episode. The first is that the SNP leader is desperate. She has painted herself into a corner and cannot step out of it without ­covering herself in shellac.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, left, announces the actual Best Picture winner as Moonlight after a presentation error with host Jimmy Kimmel and actor Warren Beatty onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards. Picture: Getty

Having said a second independence referendum was “highly likely” because of the Brexit vote she found that the Scottish people did not agree.

Referenda are horribly divisive things, pitting families and friends against each other and most people don’t want another one. Most ­people don’t want to be forced to choose between being Scottish or British when they know it’s possible to be both.

Being desperate, the First Minister has to find new excuses to try to force another referendum upon us. First it was Brexit itself, then it was the type of Brexit (leaving the single market) now it’s that Brexit will weaken the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon’s latest argument could not be more silly if she tried. As the Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie pointed out, every UK government of every stripe has increased Holyrood’s powers – the latest being the ­Conservatives handing new powers over income tax this year.

Then there’s the fact that under the Scotland Act 1998, leaving the EU means that powers that are not reserved to Westminster, such as management of farming and fishing should come automatically to Holyrood.

Other “stuff” like EU employment laws, energy and education policies will come to Edinburgh too. It is Theresa May’s government that is advocating we leave the EU, and it is Nicola Sturgeon that is arguing we stay – or become independent and go back in. That means the SNP would give powers Scotland has gained back to Brussels.

At some moment the First Minister spotted she was about to talk nonsense on stilts and changed her mind. How long before she finds a way of saying it but with the words in a ­different order?

The Donald trumps Hollywood when it comes to ratings

With some notable exceptions such as Clint Eastwood, Hollywood came out heavily against Donald Trump in last year’s presidential race – and many stars have been moaning about him ever since.

How fitting that, after all their complaints, the Academy Awards turned into a bigger farce than usual, with the wrong movie being awarded Best Picture.

Ironically they mistakenly gave the Oscar to the movie La La Land. Thank goodness these people are not running the US government, – who knows what they would get wrong?

For an industry driven by ratings, the Actors Guild should take note that the awards ceremony attracted 32.9 million viewers while President Trump’s State of the Union address was watched by 43.4 million.

Two-nil to Trump, but we’re still only in the first quarter.

An election? May be yes, May be naw

Theresa May must be thinking, if only she hadn’t given that commitment to govern for the full term the Conservatives won at the 2015 general election, she could call a general election now and seek a personal mandate.

The last few years have shown how the polls can be spectacularly wrong – think Tories, Brexit and Trump confounding the pollsters.

But the latest YouGov poll on voters’ preference between Mrs May versus Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn must be on to something.

In May’s column are every age group – including 18-24 year-olds (31 to 23 per cent); every geographical region – including Scotland (39/17 per cent), the north of England and London; both Remain (35/24 per cent) or Leave voters; and supporters of every British political party except Labour – including Lib Dems (30/15 per cent) and UKIP. May’s lead is huge in most groups.

Members of the House of Lords must be glad May looks set to keep her word. It’s the only thing saving them from the wrath of the majority of the public, abolition and the end to their £300 a day attendance allowance.