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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Another day and another complaint from someone unhappy that First Minister Alex Salmond has given his views on a subject.
 
A few weeks ago it was the BBC who didn’t like the idea of the SNP leader corrupting the minds of Rugby fans by speaking on TV prior to the international against England.

This weekend a journalist at the Sunday Mail criticised the First Minister for daring to suggest that the survival of Glasgow Rangers is preferable to extinction.  Similar attacks were broadcast by BBC Radio Scotland after an ex-football chairman had a go at Mr Salmond.

Now two Scottish Labour MSPs have become the latest to express unhappiness with Mr Salmond’s fondness for speaking publicly on an issue.

Mr Salmond’s ‘crime’ this time was to express a positive view on the proposals to develop Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens.

I admit to knowing next to nothing about this issue save that there are two opposing views on the proposals and there is to be a referendum where the people will decide – no, not that referendum.

Richard Baker, a Labour MSP from the same area as Mr Salmond claimed that the wisdom shown by the First Minister was “highly questionable”.

Mr Baker is someone I find difficult to take seriously.  I recall one embarrassing episode in the Holyrood chamber when he attempted to attack the SNP record on crime only to discover that the figures he cited were from a period when his own party were in office.

His stint as his party’s spokesman on crime was a disaster, culminating in an embarrassing episode pre-election where figures he cited on the costs of knife crime were exposed as complete fabrication.  Baker is someone who would do well to heed his own advice.

Mr Baker was joined by fellow Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald.  The North-East Labour MSP even tried to rope in the old Trump nonsense for good measure and said: "When Donald Trump came here he [Mr Salmond] leapt in to support that project.

"One would have thought he might have learnt from that experience now that Donald Trump is opposing every other project that impacts on that area.”

Macdonald forgot that the person who leapt in with Trump was one Jack McConnell who, when First Minister, leapt into a helicopter to ferry ‘the Donald’ around Scotland in search of a suitable spot for his golf course.

Mr Macdonald wasn’t alone in playing the ‘Trump card’, he was joined by BBC Scotland who declared, quite wrongly, that Mr Salmond had been “rapped over the knuckles” as a result of his dealings with Trump.

Mr Salmond was in fact cleared of any wrongdoing after a Holyrood Committee found no evidence to back up ridiculous claims of sleaze.  But hey, people have forgotten the facts of this hoary old chestnut, so why not chuck in these throw away lines.

Anyway, back to the original point – silencing the First Minister.

I’m not sure if any other political leader in the UK has been reprimanded by opponents so many times for simply speaking.  The Union Garden’s attack has to be the worst attempt though.

But it got me thinking, where do we stop with these ‘gagging orders’?

Let’s stop Mr Salmond from expressing a view on anything at all unless expressly sanctioned by London - especially on foreign visits where he is known to say positive things about Scotland and encourage inward investment.

Let’s go further and remove SNP representatives from TV and Radio discussion programmes.  Instead of the usual three versus one we can have four or even five Unionist politicians or commentators say whatever they want, especially on the issue Scottish independence, with no-one opposing their views.

And just to make sure we don’t experience an outspoken SNP First Minister again, we can bar him from appearing on any televised leaders’ debate.

All three too ridiculous to even contemplate aren’t they? - Except that all three have already either happened or have been proposed by Unionist politicians.

Don’t believe me?

Lord George Foulkes recently proposed an amendment to the Scotland Bill that would have prevented any Scottish First Minister from speaking to foreign government officials unless cleared by Whitehall first.

Mr Salmond was prevented from appearing on the BBC’s General Election Debates prior to the 2010 UK General Election.

Last week on Question Time, panellists were invited to give their views on the referendum and Scottish independence with absolutely no independence minded representative present.  Don’t think this is a one-off, similar episodes of political imbalance have been witnessed on several BBC Scotland programmes.

For those who missed it, here is David Dimbleby and panel ‘educating’ the viewer on the shortcomings of Scottish independence.

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