Friday, 19 September 2008

Iain Gray: Smokin'

Spotted today outside the entrance to the Scottish Parliament, new leader of the Labour group Iain Gray puffing away on a cigarette.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect our politicians to be saints (and indeed, if I did, I’d be heading for a massive disappointment) and if smoking is something that Iain Gray finds he wants/ needs to do then I don’t think it should be politicised.

I’m not against smoking per se. I was happy that the smoking ban was brought in – as much for the health benefits as for returning home of an evening at the pub and not reeking of smoke. If a person wants to smoke then that is their prerogative.

However, there are times and places for things. Having a sly puff outside the parliament is all very well for a junior parliamentary assistant or a member of the security or catering staff. It’s a wee bit different when the person doing the puffing is the leader of the main opposition party – the person who Labour hope will be the next First Minister.

Much has been made of Alex Salmond building up the role of First Minister, making it much more statesmanlike and powerful. I don’t know if he smokes or not but I do know this – you wouldn’t see him outside the building having a puff on a ciggie between meetings.

I know, I know. Former Presiding Officer George Reid was oft seen outside the building, chatting to people, cigarette in hand. And numerous MSPs are occasionally spotted smoking outside. Why one rule for one and one for another?

Well, for a start, I don’t make the rules. But I think the point is this. George Reid isn’t projecting himself as the next First Minister of Scotland. Iain Gray is. If he is serious about that ambition then maybe the parliamentary fag breaks have to go. Or, at the very least, they need to be less public.


McChatterer 19 September 2008 at 16:42  

Or he could turn it to his advantage and smoke big cigars, like the governor of California!

Anonymous,  19 September 2008 at 19:11  

Smoking has no advantages. It makes him look weak. He should quit; simple as that.

Stephen Glenn 21 September 2008 at 14:15  

He's not the only politician who still smokes and providing he wasn't doing it in a public enclosed place he wasn't breaking any law.

The thing is he is as human as the rest of us and at some stage in his life, must likely before he entered politics he started smoking and has become addicted to nicotine. Not an easy habit to break no matter what Scottish Unionist says though one that is breakable.

And Malc unless he schedules a meeting for outdoors he is going to have to smoke between meetings as there isn't much option.

Jeff 21 September 2008 at 18:03  

I agree with Malc's suggestion and Scottish Unionist, smoking is a weakness and it makes Iain look less attractive as a prospective as a First Minister if (1) he can't beat the addiction and (2) he's always having a sly puff inbetween meetings.

I have no doubt that giving up smoking is difficult, but so is leading a country and the parallels are there.

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