When worlds collide and upset the path of order

Jonathan Swift
Image caption Jonathan Swift - the poet and essayist who penned 'The Lady's dressing Room'

Argument persists to this day over the import of Jonathan Swift's poem "The Lady's Dressing Room".

To qualify that comment, argument persists in very limited, literary circles. I still recall one of my English tutors at St Andrews repeating lines from the poem with evident, ironic relish. Ok, one notorious line in particular.

I hold to the view that Dean Swift was seeking to contrast raw physical reality and human shortcomings with absolute ideals. (Human, note, not solely female. As is evident from his other work.) That, in short, he meant, mostly, well.

He meant to explain, rather than repel. As he did in Gulliver - think Book Four and the Yahoos - and in essays like A Modest Proposal, however shocking the content.

In much the same way - although generally without such extremes - contemporary politicians seek to pursue the path of order as they tiptoe through the by-ways of flawed humanity.

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The wry banter before rampant battles

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Getty Images

This, Nicola Sturgeon informed the chamber, is a serious government with a serious job to do. Cue an outburst of solemn nodding.

Thankfully, this comment - at the conclusion of the first minister's speech - did not pre-empt the drollery and wit which customarily attends the appointment of new ministers.

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Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet choices reveal her priorities

Cabinet Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon paraded her new Cabinet outside Bute House

To govern is to choose. Politics is the language of priorities. One should avoid cliches like the plague.

Had enough now? Thought so.

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Willie versus Nicola: Holyrood chooses its first minister

Cahmber
Image caption MSPs gathered to choose a nominee for first minister

Always glad to welcome a listener. Or two. Willie Rennie confided to parliament that he had been listening to the wireless this morning in the company of his twelve year old son.

The subject? My report informing an astonished nation that Mr Rennie planned to stand for the post of first minister.

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Welcoming Holyrood's new Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh

KenMac

Congratulations, then, to Ken Macintosh who has been elected as Holyrood's new Presiding Officer. He has a tough job ahead, of which more anon, but he made a notably fine start.

First, there was no hubris or bombast in his tone. Indeed, in acknowledging victory, he deployed some deft drollery, at his own expense.

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Sturgeon and Pym on landslides and successful government

Francis Pym
Image caption Margaret Thatcher disagreed with Francis Pym's assertion

Remember Francis Pym? Chief Whip and Northern Ireland Secretary under Ted Heath? Later, Defence Secretary, Leader of the House and, finally, Foreign Secretary during the Falklands War?

That's the fella. Anyway, I thought idly of him as I listened to the first minister at her news conference today.

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Holyrood 2016: MSPs return to Holyrood

Darren McGregor scores for Hibernian Image copyright SNS
Image caption The cheers for Hibernian's goals against Raith Rovers echoed across Leith on Saturday

I chanced to be in a supermarket in the eastern sector of Edinburgh on Saturday. To narrow the topography still further, I heard, as I entered, a raucous cheer from the nearby stadium of Hibernian Football Club.

The yell no doubt greeted one of the two goals which Hibs scored that day to defeat their rivals, Raith Rovers, in the Championship play-off. I'm afraid I cannot offer more detail.

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Holyrood 2016: Results, rethinks and reappraisal

Christine Grahame won the final constituency seat for the SNP
Image caption Christine Grahame won the final constituency seat for the SNP

07:50 The final constituency is in - and it goes to the SNP. But still the firm forecast is that they will fall short of an overall majority. Very good result for them, nevertheless, bearing in mind that voting system is designed to constrain majorities of seats on popular minorities.


06:29 - Kezia Dugdale, returned as a Lothian list Labour member, says that steering clear of the constitution in this election cost her party votes.

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Holyrood 2016: A curious election

The Scottish Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

It has been, all in all, a curious election. Not strange, you understand, but certainly curious. Despite the substantial new powers available to Holyrood, this contest has been faintly tepid.

As a number of colleagues have kindly pointed out, I have covered one or two elections. My first such endeavour was in 1979 when the Conservatives ousted Labour from UK power. (What a memory, eh? Sharp as ever.)

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Holyrood 2016: Talking balls in the Borders

Hawick Balls Image copyright Walter Baxter
Image caption Hawick Balls were made famous by legendary rugby commentator Bill McLaren - just don't ask for them in Jedburgh

Ask my family. Mundane life, commonly, leaves me baffled. I could tell you the Liberal majority in 1906 but struggle to identify the price of milk.

But it is not often, in truth, that I suffer from confectionery confusion. I am generally pretty sharp on the subject of sweeties.

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