Thursday, July 27, 2006
Nobody left in charge of Scotland
Unfortunately it's not online so old Porridge has had to do some copy typing - hence why it has taken me four days to get it up. Old Porridge also wonders if the Scottish Daily Mail has been enjoying FibDems for inspiration since it's the type of thing we love. Well it was I who postulated the question of what is the point of Nicol Stephen?
Anyway...on with the edited highlights...
This is the man now in charge of Scotland. But most of us have no idea who he is.
Since Jack McConnell went on holiday more than a week ago, the task of running Scotland has passed to his deputy.
But while Nicol Stephen’s temporary promotion may have handed him the responsibility of overseeing government, it hasn’t brought him fame.
A new poll reveals that nearly nine out of ten Scots don’t recognise the deputy First Minister.
The finding will alarm the leader of the LibDems, who says his party can become the largest in Holyrood after the next Scottish elections only ten months away...
A survey for the Scottish Daily Mail saw researchers take to the streets of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
We found that only 29 out of the 250 people asked 11% could identify a picture of Mr Stephen.
Some believed it was of US President George Bush while other guesses ranged from evangelist Billy Graham to the late entertainer Roy Castle.
In Dundee, only one member of the public out of 50 asked could identify Mr Stephen.
Web designer Danny Cassidy, 31, admitted - “I have absolutely no idea who he is. It is scary to think that someone who I would never recognise is running the country and making decisions for me.”
Retail supervisor Vikki Thomson, 22, said -“I keep up with what’s going on in Scotland, but I have never seen his face before.”
The older generation fared little better. Retiree Alistair Bruce, 66, said, “He looks like a mixture of George W Bush and Tony Blair”, while Margaret Craig, 72, asked, “Is it that Communist from Glasgow who’s been in the papers for being a naughty boy?”
In Aberdeen, where Mr Stephen is the MSP for the Aberdeen South constituency, only ten of the 50 people we asked could positively identified the deputy First Minister.
Student midwife Catherine Cruickshank, 30, admitted she had “absolutely no idea” and, despite having once served him in a local restaurant, Pat Gray couldn’t name Mr Stephen either. She said - “He’s a very good-looking chap, but I’ve got to be honest, I don’t really know what he does.”
Jim Robertson, 60, said - “I know he’s the deputy First Minister, but I imagine most folk confuse him with squash player Peter Nicol, who is far more important anyway.”
Salesman Richard Miller, 48, wondered - “How does someone who I could never have recognised manage to attain such a high position?”
Only three out of 50 shoppers on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street recognised Mr Stephen.
Office worker Guy Hanlon, 29, said, “His name doesn’t even ring any bells”, while even politics student Mike O’Brian, 20, from Falkirk, was stumped. He said - “I am quite embarrassed I didn’t know that.”
However, customer service manager Gordon Hodge, 29, only had to glance at the photograph before correctly naming Nicol Stephen.
He said - “I am very surprised I am one of so few who recognised him. But I didn’t know Jack McConnell was on holiday at the moment.” [Spot the LibDem feigning surprise at Nicol's lack of profile.]
Mr Stephen fared best of all in Inverness, where 13 out of 50 people recognised him.
Yet there were still vastly varying responses. Nairnshire resident Donald Watson, 44, who works in publishing, wondered if he was a comedian, while local labourer John Stevenson, 27, thought he was a daytime television presenter.
Emily Ross, 38, a secretary from Dingwall, Ross & Cromarty, said - “He looks a bit young to be Billy Graham, but he has the look of a preacher of some sort.”
Meanwhile, in Edinburgh the hub of Scottish politics only two out of the 50 people asked recognised Mr Stephen.
Student Caroline Crawford, 18, thought the picture was of George Bush, while pensioner Hugh Doherty, 70, from Burntisland, Fife, guessed Roy Castle.
Student Michelle Hastwell, 20, summed up the responses, stating - “I feel like I should, but I don’t.”
Mr Stephen put a brave face on the survey. He said - “The level of recognition is probably higher than last year when I took up the job [What! When no-one knew you?]. I intend to keep going in the right direction and boosting my recognition.”
Nicol was overcome with emotion as crowds of fans and well-wishers thronged him on the streets of Aberdeen asking for his autograph and permission to name their babies after him