East Lothian’s election was effectively launched yesterday with an hour-long candidate hustings in front of 100 S4-S6 seniors in Modern Studies at North Berwick High, although the Lib-Dem candidate neither responded to nor showed up for the event.
How did it go? You’d have to ask the audience that—although it was worlds away from my experience last week, with the audience attentive and as lively as anyone on stage. After a few minutes introduction from each of the three candidates, we launched into a dozen or so questions prepared by the audience.
The first question was about cuts in Scottish Education, over which Iain Gray and I fell out almost immediately. He argued teachers were being cut and education savaged; I argued that was alarmist—we have more teachers, supported by bigger budgets here in East Lothian and it was Labour-run councils like Glasgow who were shedding teachers.
But, after I suggested that the audience might want to hear something more than verbal head-butting, I thought both he and Derek did raise our dialogue to meet the standard of questions being asked. Jane Gurley wanted to know how we each would work to improve life for young people; Fraser Duff whether the Edinburgh trams project was still a good idea. We got tore in but, almost despite ourselves, the three of us agreed on more than we disputed.
But, talking to organisers Kerrie and Gordon afterwards, they seemed disappointed that there had not been more controversy. Seems like discussion is one thing but there’s nothing more entertaining than a good rammy.