Tricky questions for Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon faced some tricky questions at her weekly question session

It was, for the first minister, a particularly tricky question. Her policy position meant that she was not minded to say Yes. However, it was difficult in the circumstances to say No.

Then again, the issue itself placed governmental quandaries decidedly in context. We are talking about historical allegations of abuse suffered by young football players at the hands of coaches whom they had trusted.

By contrast with the misery suffered by these youngsters, the complexities of government and political life are minor matters.

To be fair, this was entirely acknowledged in the tone adopted by our parliamentarians. They were serious, empathetic and focused.

Starting with Labour's Kezia Dugdale. There is already an inquiry under way into child abuse suffered by youngsters in care. That is scheduled to last four years.

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Labouring over the 'Scottish Question'

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale during her speech at the Perth Concert Hall Image copyright PA
Image caption Ms Dugdale hopes she can be the one to finally settle Scottish Labour's constitutional questions

For years, frankly for decades, Labour has wrestled somewhat uncomfortably with the Scottish Question. Initially, with the concept of devolution, more recently with its consequences.

For years, frankly for decades, Labour leaders - either from Scotland or Westminster - would seek to project their "issue of the day" at public events north of the border.

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Testing times for Scottish education

John Stuart Mill
Image caption John Stuart Mill was taught by his stern scholastic father

The early years of John Stuart Mill, it would seem, were scarcely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure.

Not for him interactive computer games involving gruesomely athletic dwarves - or even their 19th Century equivalent, tales of fantasy and folklore most famously gathered, as John grew up, by the Brothers Grimm.

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Debating dualism: the Article 50 court case

Supreme Court
Image caption The Supreme Court was treated to a debate on dualism

An intriguing opening day at the UK Supreme Court as their lordships ponder whether Parliament must have a role prior to the triggering of Britain's intended departure from the European Union.

You will recall, perhaps, that the High Court said: yes, it should. The UK Government takes the view that, as it concerns an international treaty, it is rightly a matter to be determined in the first instance by the UK government, acting under Royal prerogative.

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Scaring Tavish Scott at FMQs

Tavish
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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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