FMQs: a stormy session before the summer recess

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption It was not the sunniest session of FMQs

Looking ever so slightly bemused, like a model pupil who has stumbled across a playground fight, Patrick Harvie of the Greens tried to lift the mood in Holyrood by wishing every single MSP "all the best for the summer".

Outside, the rain poured down, passing effortlessly from torrent to monsoon. The storm assaulted the Parliamentary windows with unyielding ferocity.

Still, despite that, on this last day of the session, our MSPs were in cheery mood, weren't they? Bidding each other a fond temporary farewell?

Chums, they were not.

Ruth Davidson - nearly - called the First Minister a liar. Nicola Sturgeon - almost - implied that the Tory leader was a charlatan. And so the long, last day wore on.

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Indyref2 is deferred not abandoned

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Media captionMs Sturgeon said it is still "likely" there will be a second referendum during the lifetime of the current Holyrood Parliament

I have always felt the "scunner factor" to be particularly potent in contemporary politics. (For those who lack the Scots tongue of Burns, Scott or Welsh, a person who is scunnered is one who is less than gruntled.)

Actually, scrub the word contemporary. For example, Gladstone's budget speeches lasted more than four hours. That would try the patience of even the most zealous supporter.

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The DUP deal via a Helensburgh swimming pool

Tory-DUP deal signed Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Before the deal was signed

It is rather a stretch, I would admit, from the future of the European Union, the fate of the UK government and the condition of Scotland.

It is scarcely the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Which, if you remember from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was 42.

Read full article The DUP deal via a Helensburgh swimming pool

No, Holyrood cannot 'veto' or 'block' Brexit

Flags outside Holyrood Image copyright PA

Does Holyrood have a power of veto over the Great Repeal Bill? Could the Scottish Parliament block Brexit? Bluntly, no.

The issue arises once more because there is discourse again over the prospect that the Brexit bill might require an accompanying Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) at Holyrood.

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Reforms for 'reducing waffle' at Holyrood

Parly reform Image copyright Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Image caption Commission chairman John McCormick (left) launched the report alongside presiding officer Ken Macintosh (left)

There is a scene in the film "Blazing Saddles" where the townsfolk are discussing a threat to their tiny settlement in the American West.

In keeping with the painfully satirical tone of the movie, one contribution - which consists of an inaudible and incomprehensible rant - is characterised and praised as "authentic frontier gibberish".

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First Minister's Questions: Politics inverted

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Image caption Ms Sturgeon is reluctant to talk about indyref2, and Ms Davidson is reluctant to talk about Brexit

She talks, apparently, of nothing else. Independence, that is. It has become, we are told, an obsession. To the extent that she has become a one trick pony.

Of whom do we speak? Of Ruth Davidson, she who leads the Conservatives in Scotland. Or, more precisely, the caricature of RD as elegantly drawn by the first minister, she who leads the devolved bits of Scotland.

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Political games of chance and skill

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The prime minister is attempting to win the confidence of backbenchers

With the exception of backgammon, I have little patience with games of chance, especially if cash transactions are involved.

Plus, backgammon is more properly a game of skill: a beginner can win a single game, over the piece an expert will triumph.

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Contemplating a remarkable election

Theresa May Image copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May faces a period of introspection

Despite briefly studying theology at university, it is not often these days, in truth, that I contemplate the divine.

However, I was drawn by the reaction of the Kirk to this remarkable election.

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Questions of momentum and relativity

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David Mundell says Theresa May is still the best person to lead the country into Brexit negotiations.

She may recover, of course, but last night she scarcely sounded up for that fight.

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FMQs: the final spat of the campaign

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon continued a row with Kezia Dugdale at FMQs

Is the word "clype", I wonder, included in the lexicon of parliamentary terms? I only ask because it has featured en passant in the contention over the alleged chat between Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dugdale.

Actually, there is another reason for inquiring. Which is that the Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, seemed decidedly zealous in excluding certain words today.

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