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FMQs: A Year in Review

Eilidh Carmichael

As we celebrate (mourn?) the last FMQs before the summer break, our Head of Monitoring, Eilidh Carmichael, has taken an anorak-y look at the most popular topics raised at FMQs this year.

Think Holyrood spends too much time on constitutional issues? The FMQs hours devoted to the health service suggest otherwise. It is also a handy reminder of the issues that kept us busy at different points over the year – with one off questions on BiFab, Cambridge Analytica, sexual harassment and weather to remind us.

Some interesting highlights:

  • Richard Leonard (on subject headers alone) has never asked an FMQ focused on Brexit. More on how we reached that conclusion below the tables.
  • Richard Leonard and Willie Rennie have been really focused on the NHS in recent months. With a new Cabinet Secretary in post, some would say their badgering may be beginning to pay off.
  • Ruth Davidson asks by far and away the most questions on policing and justice.
  • Patrick Harvie has asked all the questions on climate change and the environment in the last year, although the table shows it’s not by any means the only topic he picks.
  • As the first up, Ruth Davidson’s questions are arguably the most affected by the big topic of the week, asking questions on Cambridge Analytica and Salisbury, for example.

Spot any interesting points we haven’t noted? Please let us know over on twitter! Without further ado, please enjoy the data…

FMQs Questions by Subject

Coloured by Subject

DISCLAIMER

A few caveats. This info has been compiled using the titles/topics used by the Official Report team at Holyrood. They are extremely broad, usually something like ‘NHS (Waiting Times)’. If Richard Leonard pivoted half way through his exchange to a different topic it’s highly likely the OR team didn’t capture this is their short pithy title. Similarly, if the question was about the draft budget and the impact higher taxation might have on it and the Official Report have called it ‘Taxation’ then that’s what I’ve used. This means more stuff will have been discussed that this suggests, but it’s the most achievable way of collating and presenting this data. And it also involves me making less subjective judgements myself.

If you were already thinking that this sounds pretty unscientific, it’s about to get worse. The Official Report team doesn’t pick their headers with a mind to someone cross-referencing them. So I’ve attempted to bring a little bit more consistency. Mostly, this involved me adding a broader theme, so something on ‘Colleges’ now reads ‘Education (Colleges)’ so it’s easier to see at a glance all the questions on education and so on and so forth.

Lastly, it’s probably worth pointing out that Patrick Harvie and Willie Rennie don’t just take a break every two weeks for the good of their health, although FMQs arguably isn’t good for the blood pressure...They get fewer questions because they lead groups which are smaller than the Conservatives or Labour so only get to ask a question at two in every three FMQs sessions.

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