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Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 08:45 UK

'...behind you!'

Gavin Allen
Gavin Allen
Editor - The Politics Show

Oh well - you win some, you lose some.

Jon Sopel and Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister

We interviewed the SNP leader Alex Salmond last Sunday. With the share prices of Scottish banks tanking, a £1bn aid request submitted to the Treasury and the party's annual conference opening this week, it seemed an opportune moment to put some serious questions to the First Minister.

We talked about recession - "It'll be extremely difficult for Scottish output to keep increasing - we're not immune...

"Our job is to try to avoid a deep recession."

We challenged him on the SNP's "Arc of Prosperity" - namely the economies of Norway, Iceland and Ireland, which are cited by the party as models for Scotland's future. Not surprisingly Mr Salmond endeavoured to focus on Norway...

He expressed his opposition to the Lloyds TSB-HBOS merger: "My preferred position for HBOS is as an independent bank."

And there was even time to discuss the merits of the SNP proposal to ban 18-year-olds from buying alcohol at an off-licence. Stenhousemuir and other areas that have experimented with the scheme had, we learned, "seen a 50% drop over the weekends in recorded breach of the peace incidents and other reports to the police".

So plenty to chew on there.

We thought.

But one viewer was brutal in his summary: "I can't remember a word that either of them said".

What? Why? Not analytical enough? Not relevant enough? Well no...

"I was transfixed by the backdrop," explained the viewer Matthew Parris in his Times column.

"Sitting in (presumably) his garden, the Scottish First Minister was framed by a gurgling river flowing beneath a rustic stone bridge. (spot the frog here...)The ripples and bubbles and waving trees were hypnotising. I even think I saw a frog".

Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister

And off Matthew's mind trotted, musing on the psychological impact of various backdrops, from log fires to a tank of thrashing alligators. (you can read Matthew's article here...)

As I say you win some, you lose some.

On this occasion, we lost, the babbling brook won. And I guess we should be grateful there wasn't an alligator to compete with.

But imagine how Mr Salmond feels¿ how do you grab attention and spread the political message when even former MPs get distracted by the stream behind you?

Mind you, now he comes to mention it, IS that a frog over his left shoulder..? (go on... spot the frog here...)

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