Matthew Marr's descent over the last few days has got my unusually troubled by the antics of a Labour spin doctor. I know Matthew since we met at organising meetings for the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh 2005. He was working for Catholic charity SCIAF at the time.
We later crossed paths again when he was an aide to Glasgow City Council leader Stephen Purcell. I won't go into the details, but I can well imagine the scene at Prestonfields last week as I was myself at the sharp end of a Marr tonguelashing over what was a relative non-issue. I was by no means under his employ or anything, and have seldom been spoken to like that in life over so little. It seems I'm not the only one either.
So Alex Salmond wins Scottish Politician of the year (couldn't really have been a shock surely?) and Marr lets rip with a four-letter volley of abuse from his table. What does he think Salmond has done to warrant such treatment? Was it the free prescriptions announcement last week?
It's all the more galling coming from a spin doctor for a party which year after year gave war criminal Tony Blair a standing ovation. As George Galloway once remarked, they'd still be standing there if he hadn't told them to sit down.
This story exhibits the worst of political partisanship. Myself, I start from the point of view that most people are sincere and want to do good. They can be wrong, but there are very few people out there that are genuinely evil. If you take this starting point, it's incumbent to at least be civil to people even if you are in disagreement over issues.
I can't be bothered with the ya-boo stuff which says everyone in one camp is always wrong and our lot are always right. More opinions, and rigorous debate mean better decision making. Decision making is aided when relations are friendly and one side is receptive to the ideas of the other. Ultimately, the people also decide in a vote, and there are all too many people still struggling to come to terms with May's election result. Whoever our first minister was, they would deserve much better than four-letter abuse, and it's right that Marr went.