Yesterday I had a look at how much money Alistair Darling MP makes outside of politics (although it should be noted that he can only earn this money because of the privileged position he held in UK politics) and it turned out to be a substantial amount - substantially more than he earns for his work in politics. It struck me that his flying around the world to speak to big corporations must take up a fair bit of time and I started wondering whether that leaves him enough time to do the job we pay him to do so I had a wee look.
Ministers don't ask Parliamentary Questions (that would just be them asking themselves questions and would just be daft) and don't sign motions except Government motions (when a Minister speaks they're giving a Government position) so I've looked at the period since the 2010 UK general election. In those 41 months since he stopped being chancellor of the Exchequer and was able to ask PQs again Mr Darling has asked 57 questions.
As a comparison, Helen Eadie MSP has asked 265 PQs of the Scottish Government in the 29 months since the 2011 Scottish general election. Alistair Darling, facing the Tories, could only think of a question to ask once every three weeks while Helen Eadie, facing the SNP, asks a question every three days (that's counting weekends, days she's on holiday, Christmas and New Year's Day). One question every 22 days to the Tory/Lib Dem Government in Westminster, one question every three days to the SNP Government in Holyrood.
It strikes me that just about anyone in Scotland would have more than one question every three weeks to ask the current UK Government, never mind a former Chancellor who should know how Government works and where to go sniffing about. Maybe he's too busy promoting his book, writing newspaper articles and trousering fees for speaking engagements to bother doing the job he gets paid to do?
Maybe Helen Eadie would do the better job in Westminster? Eadie to leadie!