IF A certain Danish brewer did irony, instead of “probably the best lager in the world” then they would have been the perfect sponsor for Tuesday night's Scottish Leaders' Debate on Channel 4. As irony came by the keg full.

Broadcasting live from Galvanizers, a cavernous industrial nightclub and live music events space that forms the beating heart of Glasgow’s popular art complex SWG3, Scotland’s fiery anti-clubbing FM Nicola Sturgeon took centre stage.

This was as discordant as it was surreal, given that since the beginning of this pandemic 14 months ago, she and her untouchable team of health advisers and cabinet ministers have repeatedly poured cold beer over any notion of concerts or night clubs restarting now or, more worryingly, any time in the future.

Pointedly refusing to include Scotland’s live music and entertainment industry, the mainstay of our nation's beleaguered night-time economy, in her Government’s reopening framework and repeatedly ignoring their perfectly reasonable requests to be given tier level status, indicative re-opening dates and parity with other areas of the UK. Something that has been afforded to other industry sectors.

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As for the other four leaders, Labour's Anas Sarwar, Lib-Dem Willie Rennie, Tory Douglas Ross and the Greens' Patrick Harvie, it was more a case of Twilight Zone than comfort zone, with all of them looking twitchy, unsettled and on edge. A behaviour trait which under normal operating circumstances would have set the alarm bells ringing for the stewards, possibly prompting the response: "Sorry, not tonight, lads. Regulars only.” They certainly would have been challenged for proof of ID and queried about where they’d been and what they had already had to drink.

Once inside, though, all of them, including an increasingly agitated First Minister, would have been severely ticked off for their unruly, unedifying and aggressive behaviour and warned that if it were to continue, they would be quickly shown the door.

HeraldScotland: Anas SarwarAnas Sarwar

Sadly, Krishnan Guru-Murty, skilled presenter as he is, is certainly not cut out to be a badged steward in a nightclub setting, and unfortunately allowed this childish stramash and non-stop slanging match to continue until the end of the show, which left the viewers confused and none the wiser about each leaders’ respective policies and, more importantly, about their economic and social recovery plans.

All of which had been consumed in a continual ear bleeding cacophony of noise over a second independence referendum, the most divisive and inappropriate of post-recovery subjects you could ever choose to discuss when coming out of a global pandemic. You have to wonder what any viewers from the rest of the UK, unfortunate enough to tune in, must have thought of this awful spectacle.

With the Scottish election only six days away, and our economy being tanked, and debts piling up with catastrophic unemployment figures now being forecast, especially amongst our nation’s 16-24 age group, Scotland is now in very real danger of becoming a cultural wasteland.

Our hospitality sector, live music industries and night-time economies are being destroyed by a government and party that, in recent months, has all but abandoned them. The only R word I want to hear from the lips of our politicians is recovery not referendum. Yet for some reason, for many of them, that is not their main concern and focus of attention.

But who to vote for? Well, for the first time in 40 years I will not be choosing the SNP. Why? Well, I believe that they’ve become the political equivalent of a driverless car. A cold and dangerous automaton, which has a pre-programmed puritanical course and socially engineered destination, that it will never veer from, never reset, despite any oncoming danger and cost to lives and livelihoods.

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By indefinitely closing us down, they have a warped and twisted way of repaying the loyalty and goodwill given to them by my sector at the beginning of this crisis. As for the other parties, only one in recent weeks has bothered to pick up the phone, expressed concern for my sector, and agreed to a meeting.

Labour's Anas Sarwar, and for that alone his party gets my vote and maybe my regional list vote as well. There is, of course, the indefatigable George Galloway...

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