Scaring Tavish Scott at FMQs

Image caption Tavish Scott does not scare easily

It takes a lot to scare Tavish Scott. He is after all from Shetland where the weather frequently rivals Antarctic conditions. In June.

But, apparently, recent developments in Scotland have left him in a state of fear and trembling, to borrow from the title of Søren Kierkegaard's greatest thriller. (Don't bother looking up the plot, turns out the jannie did it.)

And what has produced this state of trepidation in the Viking one? It is, according to Ruth Davidson, the appalling condition of the Scottish education system.

Ms Davidson, who leads the Tories, was citing comments made during a recent Holyrood committee hearing. Ms Davidson was seeking to assemble an argument to the effect that all the members of Team Scotland were shocked and appalled by what is going on in our schools.

One understands her desire to mount such an attack. But she went, perhaps, just a mite overboard. In her wide-ranging condemnation, it sounded as if Scotland's offspring were, almost without exception, unable to spell the word "Higher", let alone sit one.

Image caption Ruth Davidson might have gone just slightly overboard in her attack

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St Andrew's Day at Whitehall and Holyrood

Theresa May
Image caption Theresa May wished the whole world a happy St Andrews Day

From behind the Prime Minister, a voice could plainly be heard: sibilant yet insistent. Sshh, said the voice.

The implication being that the House should fall silent to hear the ensuing pronouncement from the PM.

Read full article St Andrew's Day at Whitehall and Holyrood

Post Brexit vote: Deciphering the messages

Media captionNicola Sturgeon says indyref2 is "still on the table" as a response to the UK vote for Brexit

Voices, voices. The First Minister in Dublin. Her Brexit Minister, Mike Russell, in Holyrood. UK Ministers, reportedly seeking to have their cake and eat it too. And of course the verdict from Malta.

Malta? Yes, Malta. A (continuing) member of the European Union. And the state which will hold the EU presidency from the beginning of 2017 - including the period when Brexit is due to be triggered.

Read full article Post Brexit vote: Deciphering the messages

First Minister's Question: Train talks and budget deals

Ruth Davidson
Image caption Ruth Davidson saw her line of questioning to the first minister somewhat derailed

In politics - as on our railways - timing is key. Such became clear once more during questions to the First Minister at Holyrood today.

I suspect Ruth Davidson knows by now that she should have tackled the FM on the issue of rail transport last week. She did so today - but stumbled over a tricky set of points, somewhat derailing her attack.

Read full article First Minister's Question: Train talks and budget deals

Straight man chancellor plays it for laughs

Phillip Hammond Image copyright EPA

Michael McIntyre, I feel certain, can rest easy - content that his droll role remains unchallenged by the chancellor.

I doubt, for example, that any of Scotland's fine panto producers are this very moment picking up the phone to Phillip Hammond to offer him a comic role.

Read full article Straight man chancellor plays it for laughs

Team Dugdale do the loco commotion

broken train
Image caption The early-morning breakdown between Waverley station and Haymarket affected services

What a way to run a railway. That, pared to its essence, was the challenge posed at Holyrood by Labour's Kezia Dugdale. It followed widespread disruption to the ScotRail network caused by a single train failure at a key junction in Edinburgh.

Want to know how that Parliamentary challenge emerged? Early this morning, one of Ms Dugdale's more senior and enthusiastic staffers found himself in the Labour corridor, alone and palely loitering.

Read full article Team Dugdale do the loco commotion

Could Scotland follow the Norwegian model?

flags Image copyright Thinkstock

At Holyrood, MSPs were again talking Brexit. Quite rightly so, given the crucial importance of the issue. But in tonight's debate there was precious little entente - and the exchanges were decidedly less than cordiale.

Indeed at one point the Economy Secretary Keith Brown accused one of his Conservative opponents of "self-loathing".

Read full article Could Scotland follow the Norwegian model?

A diplomatic silence on Donald Trump?

Nicola Sturgeon during FMQs Image copyright PA

Hail to the Chief. Anyone know the next line? Don't bother inquiring at Holyrood where the anthem traditionally welcoming an American president is, if deployed at all, mostly hummed these days with grim irony.

Which is, in itself, ironic, given that the anthem's origins lie in Scotland. More precisely, in lines written by Sir Walter Scott in his poem, The Lady of the Lake.

Read full article A diplomatic silence on Donald Trump?

The Brexit onion adds another layer

Media captionNicola Sturgeon has pledged to do all she can to protect Scotland's place in Europe

Peeling apart the layers. A tearful experience if one is talking onions. However, I am talking here about the layers presently accreting upon the Brexit debate. We have yet to establish whether the associated tears will be of sorrow or joy.

Layer upon layer today. I make absolutely no complaint. Whoever said this would be simple or straightforward? Including those who advocate the eventual outcome, with varying degrees of fervour.

Read full article The Brexit onion adds another layer

Fun and 'political games' at Holyrood council tax vote

Liz Smith
Image caption Tory Liz Smith provoked hilarity when she had to take a seat next to Labour members in order to vote

There was much laughter in Holyrood tonight. And the topic? The council tax - and an increase in charges for Bands E to H.

Not, you would think, a customary topic for laughter - unless you are one of those who find comical solace in the minutes of Audit Scotland.

Read full article Fun and 'political games' at Holyrood council tax vote