Question Time tonight features a virtual audience drawn from Edinburgh, home of the Bay City Rollers. But who you give a little love to – and who will you happily wave bye bye baby? Here’s your guide to the panel…
Who? Leader of the Scottish Conservatives
Leader of the Scottish Tories since August, Ross succeeded Jackson Carlaw, who spent a memorable five months in the role before being gently resigned from the role by his colleagues. Not actually a Member of the Scottish Parliament – he sits in Westminster as MP for Moray – he is deputised for in Holyrood by Ruth Davidson who, happily, most people still assume is leader of the Scottish Conservatives anyway. No unthinking Boris Johnson lackey – he resigned as a parliamentary under-secretary of state over Dominic Cummings’ unorthodox eye test – he is also an experienced football referee who was forced to apologise earlier this season for missing a VJ Day event to officiate at Kilmarnock v St Johnstone (1-2, Michael O’Halloran with an injury time winner).
Who? Shadow employment minister
A former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury under Jeremy Corbyn, Malhotra was one of the dozens who resigned in June 2016 over the leader’s general rubbishness and went on to back Owen Smith in his doomed attempt to depose him. Now back on the frontline as Keir Shadow’s shadow employment minister. Low-profile and reliably on message – a typical fiery tweet is “Last night, I voted for Labour’s Amdt 3 in the Fisheries Bill Report Stage on banning supertrawlers from Marine Protected Areas” – her relatively anonymity is not helped, in terms of search engine optimisation, by the fact that she shares a name with a cast member of the Real Housewives of Cheshire.
Who? Scottish finance secretary
The SNP’s youthful finance minister – if you want to feel old, the number one on the day she was born was The Power by Snap! – earlier this year she became the first female to deliver the Scottish budget after her predecessor Derek Mackay resigned amid scandal. A former chartered accountant, she last week lashed out at mansplaining Tory MSP Alexander Burnett, who was kind enough to “totally acknowledge” her supposed “lack of business experience”. She hit back: “Well, I can only thank you for sharing your own business experience and enlightening me.” So please, stay off her back. Or she will attack. And you don’t want that.*
Sir Ian Wood
Businessman best known for his work in the North Sea oil industry with the Wood Group and philanthropic organisation the Wood Foundation, Wood was knighted in 1994, presumably not for his services to innovative nomenclature. One of Scotland’s wealthiest men, with a fortune of £1.7bn according the most recent Sunday Times rich list – a drop of £54m, or approximately one Tanguy Ndombele, on the previous year. Curiously, a large proportion of photographs of Wood online show him sporting a jumper over his shoulders, like a male model from a 1980s Great Universal catalogue.
Who? Economic advisor
A former SNP advisor and Westminster candidate, Brett is the second nationalist panellist on this evening’s show, which might be problematic for online activists who scheduled their splenetic tweets about the biased BBC’s lack of representation several days ago. Research director at left-wing think tank Common Wealth, she has been described as “Scotland’s answer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”, to which she said she could “only ever aspire to such a strong lipstick game”. Has written that Boris Johnson had “started what could be a fundamental reordering of the UK constitution” and his government had “attempted to reduce accountability, disempower our courts and strengthen the power of Westminster”.
Sir Mark Walport
Who? Medical scientist
Sir Mark Jeremy Walport FRS FRCP FRCPath FMedSci FRSE – which much make filling in forms a real irritant – was the UK government’s chief scientific from 2013 to 2017, which means he can also boast the title of tonight’s Token Person Who Might Actually Know What They’re Talking About. Chief executive of UK Research and Innovation until this year and still a SAGE member, he said today that that ministers faced “appallingly difficult” decisions and that there was “clear concern… that measures at the moment are not bringing things under control”. Equally importantly, looks like Mr Johnson, the restaurant customer with the misfortune always to be served by Grover in Sesame Street.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)
*Young people: it’s a reference to the lyrics to Snap!’s 1990 number one hit The Power