STEPHEN DAISLEY: Matheson's shamelessness alone was mesmerising

STEPHEN DAISLEY: I’m a father first, he said, as he took the painful decision to hang his sons out to dry

I’ll say this: it was a hell of a performance. The quiver in his voice.

The dramatic pauses. The sheer shamelessness of the whole production.

Michael Matheson fought for his political career yesterday with ­everything he had.

MSPs had come for answers but they had to settle for emoting, as the Health Secretary sought to portray himself as an ordinary family man whose only error was being too ­protective of his children.

He apologised for the size of the bill he foisted on the taxpayer.

Michael Matheson delivers his statement at Holyrood yesterday

He admitted he should have given the IT office a heads-up before he ­skedaddled to Morocco with his ­family last Christmas.

Just as he was in danger of sounding contrite, he pivoted to spread blame like a great glob of jam on an ­industrial-sized scone.

He had contacted Holyrood’s ­computer whizzes on his first day in North Africa after finding his ­parliamentary phone on the blink.

They don’t have much luck with phones, these people. At least ­Matheson’s mobile didn’t delete all his WhatsApp messages.

This is where things got interesting. According to Matheson, the techies said his data package was ‘suitable for Morocco’ and suggested he try removing the sim card and replacing it.

The IT department had recommended the equivalent of switching it off and back on again, the one part of his story that sounded entirely plausible.

Matheson couldn’t fathom why the charges were so high, for he had only used the tablet for constituency business. One might have hoped he would twig that eleven grand was pretty steep for emailing Mrs McSporran about dog mess down the precinct.

The network provider was ‘unable to give details’ of why the bill was so ­gargantuan. The minister canvassed his family but no one ventured any explanations or admissions.

This story had more holes than a Dunkin’ Donuts factory, but here is one of the bigger ones: why did he ask his family about a parliamentary device in the first place? Unless, of course, he knew they had access to it.

READ MORE: Tearful SNP minister blames teenage sons for racking up £11,000 iPad roaming charges – footed by taxpayer – by watching football matches during Morocco holiday 

This was in fact the line he went with. Last Thursday Mrs Health ­Secretary had informed him that ‘other members of the family’ had used the iPad. This translated to his sons, who had gobbled up the data watching a Celtic match.

MSPs were listening to this in stony silence. On the Tory benches, Stephen Kerr’s coupon was etched in something between incredulity and impatience, like a headmaster being told that not only had Rover eaten the homework but he had done so in order to save it from the killer ­zombies who were shooting laser beams out of their eyes.

Matheson’s voice cracked. He paused for an overwrought moment as his eyes dampened, before he took responsibility for his sons’ actions.

Cillian Murphy has been tipped for an Oscar for his role in Oppenheimer but he’ll have some stiff competition from this fella.

Opposition MSPs were permitted to quiz him for a whole ten minutes because Holyrood is nothing if not an accountable parliament.

Tory Meghan Gallacher inquired whether his son had access to his iPad password.

Matheson said he used the device for ‘hotspotting’ and it was his son who helped him do that.

Hotspotting is not the latest TikTok trend. It means using your mobile data to create a wifi network other devices can connect to. It may sound like techno wizardry but it amounts to pressing a couple of buttons.

Matheson was making himself out to be a doddery dad, relying on his Gen-Z boy to help him navigate all these new-fangled gadgets and thingumabobs. And it turns out the little scamp cadged the hotspot to watch the fitba.

Kids today, eh? Rest assured he’ll be getting sent to bed without any supper or taxpayer-funded mobile data.

‘I am a father first and foremost,’ Matheson said in his moment of anguish, as he took the painful ­decision to hang his sons out to dry.

Scottish nationalism’s answer to the American revolutionary Nathan Hale, Matheson regrets that he has but one family to give for his political career.

The shamelessness alone was ­mesmerising. It was the most brazen use of a political offspring since John Gummer’s infamous photoshoot ­during the BSE crisis. And at least his kid got a burger out of it.

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