FMQSs: challenging choices for Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon was offered a succession of choices by opposition leaders

To govern, it is frequently said, is to choose. At Holyrood today, Nicola Sturgeon was presented with a succession of notably challenging choices. She coped admirably.

Firstly, Ruth Davidson raised the topic of rape. In particular, she seized upon media reports that, in some instances, crimes of rape had resulted in community sentences rather than prison.

Cue an instant dilemma for Ms Sturgeon. She stressed, repeatedly that the crime of rape should be treated "with the utmost seriousness and severity" by the judicial system.

But then, with comparable gravity, she emphasised that it was not fitting for politicians to pronounce sentences. That was rightly reserved to courts, to the judiciary - who were able to weigh all the circumstances, direct and attendant.

Ms Davidson, the Conservative leader, pursued the topic with commendable assiduity. She noted Ms Sturgeon's point that 93% of rape convictions resulted in a custodial sentence. Which meant, said Ms D, that 7% did not.

Balanced perspective

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Labour seeks to dispel the Lamont lament

johann lamont Image copyright PA

Remember Johann Lamont? Silly question; of course you do. She remains, after all, a prominent member of the Scottish Parliament. A committee convener, no less, and one who, I am told, now displays her innate wit and drollery on a particular social medium.

Start again, Brian. Do you remember Johann Lamont complaining that the party she led, the Scottish Labour Party, was treated "like a branch office" by comrades in London?

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FMQs: A remarkable development over cancer drug

Daily Record Image copyright Daily Record
Image caption Anne Maclean-Chang, who is suffering from secondary breast cancer, made a plea to the first minister in the Daily Record newspaper

Politics, almost by definition, operates in generic mode. Tax and spending policies tend to apply widely, if not universally.

When politics enters the particular, it can become additionally challenging. Such were the circumstances during questions to the first minister today.

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Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon's linguistic conundrum

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

At Westminster, certain words just will not do. For example, an honourable member must not accuse another honourable member of lying. (The clue is in the adjectival description of MPs.)

Down the decades, there have been heroic efforts to obviate this wearisome constraint. Winston Churchill, most famous as the MP for the great and noble city of Dundee, took to suggesting that opponents and, even more commonly, colleagues were prone to "terminological inexactitude".

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FMQs: SNP and Tories contest a Holyrood blame game

Gordon Lindhurst
Image caption Gordon Lindhurst has known his share of electoral disappointment - but has finally won a seat at Holyrood

There was, opined Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst, a "dark cloud" hanging over Scotland. Now, this merits attention in that Mr Lindhurst's background would lead us to infer that he knows a bit about gloomy water vapour.

Firstly, he is an advocate. Not, I would suggest, an intrinsically cheerful profession. In Scotland's sombre courts, essaying a stand-up routine can be guaranteed to add six months to your client's sentence.

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Nicola Sturgeon's programme for troubled times

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Ms Sturgeon made the economy and education her top priorities for government

It was, we were assured, a programme for different - and troubled - times. Hence a renewed emphasis on bolstering economic growth alongside the priority accorded to education.

Not, to be clear, that the economy has ever been far from ministers' minds. However, Nicola Sturgeon's narrative is that Brexit will add considerably to the challenges facing Scotland and the UK. Requiring additional support.

Read full article Nicola Sturgeon's programme for troubled times

Brexit: The entire process is fraught with uncertainty

Theresa May Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Theresa May has rejected a points-based system for EU migrants

Winston Spencer Churchill, most renowned of course as the MP for Dundee, had a word or two to say about democracy.

One of his comments concerned the issue of a five minute conversation with the average voter - but it is far too blunt and forthright for me to use here.

Read full article Brexit: The entire process is fraught with uncertainty

Indyref2: Nicola Sturgeon's autumn manoeuvre

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption The SNP are hoping to gather the views of two million Scots via their 120,000 members

In the end, it is less of a summer campaign, more of an autumn manoeuvre. But, either way, Nicola Sturgeon is advancing the cause of independence once more.

Once more? She never stopped. But this is a specific initiative designed to persuade and cajole. Or, more precisely, to listen and heed.

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Owen Smith and Labour's Scottish independence question

Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith Image copyright AFP
Image caption Owen Smith declared that he would not oppose a second independence referendum

When one is standing for significant office in public life, it does not do to sound indecisive. Voters tend not to cleave to potential leaders who, when asked about a major policy issue, reply: "Me? Not a clue. What am I like, eh?"

And so Owen Smith was admirably concise and definitive when asked on the wireless whether he would oppose a second independence referendum. "Of course not", he declared.

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GERS 2015-16: Confronting the challenges

  • 24 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is shown how leather hides are trimmed with managing director Colin Wade [right] looking on

The word of the day was "challenging". Nicola Sturgeon used it, repeatedly, when discussing the state of Scotland's economy, as partially disclosed by the publication of the annual exercise known as Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS.)

I say annual. Actually, the last version emerged in March this year. Are we now to be subject to biannual visitations?

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