Constitutional clashes at FMQs

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon faced an afternoon of constitutional clashes

Jackson Carlaw stood up, slowly. As he did so, at Westminster, the prime minister was motoring towards the third hour of questions in the Commons, glancing behind her nervously to discern any further resignations from her team.

For Mr Carlaw, then, a challenge. Did he confront the chaos head on in his questions to the first minister? Or did he pursue her on another vital topic, such as ferret taming? (Widely and mistakenly neglected, in my view.)

The acting Scottish Conservative leader opted for courage. For, if you like, spitting in the wind. It was all, according to Mr Carlaw, Nicola Sturgeon's fault.

And how, pray? Well, apparently, her endless pursuit of independence had destabilised the Brexit project and, well, just ruined things generally.

The FM's response? "What a nerve!" Authenticity is rare in contemporary politics but Ms Sturgeon seemed genuinely exasperated at the line boldly adopted by her opponent.

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Doing the maths on the meaningful motion

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon: "This, from what I know of it, [Brexit withdrawal text] is not a good deal for Scotland."

Early reaction to the Brexit outline agreement? Not, it has to be said, bubbly and joyous. Seldom has the political atmosphere seemed more remote from Browning's glad confident morning.

That includes the response from the first minister who said the draft deal advanced by Theresa May was, on the face of it, "the worst of all possible worlds".

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Armistice tributes show Scottish Parliament at its best

chamber
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon led the tributes on a personal note

At times like this, said Richard Leonard, this Parliament is at its best. He was referring to Holyrood's tribute on the centenary of the Armistice which brought World War I to a weary, shell-shocked, limping, bloody halt.

I would not dissent in any way from Mr Leonard's comments. His own contribution was first class, thoughtful and empathetic. So too were the contributions from each of the other leaders.

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Michelin closure: A dark day in Dundee

Michelin worker Image copyright AFP

There is a Dundee song which opens with a list; a litany of major textile employers in the city. Frequently sung in a mournful voice, it goes through the names.

Cox's, Halley's, Eagle, Craigie, Brochie's, Baxter's, Bowbrig, Cairds.

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Seating stooshie

Labour benches
Image caption Labour have apparently established a seating rota for their front three benches

It is known, I believe, as dough-nutting. The practice of orators surrounding themselves with a ring of supporters, who can be counted upon to nod sagely at the appropriate point.

This habit probably dates back to ancient times. I mean, Marcus Tullius Cicero was seldom slack when it came to speechifying.

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Mackay and Hammond strike different Budget tones

derek mackay
Image caption Derek Mackay will publish his draft Scottish budget in December

The tone was markedly different, as was the substance. In the Commons yesterday, the Chancellor sought to blend kitchen sink mundanity - those potholes - with lavatorial mock-humour.

Despite the prime minister pinching all his best lines in advance and, from time to time during his delivery, looking as if she had lunched on wasp, the Chancellor was determined to Carry On at his Convenience.

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Day of the deputies at Holyrood

jackson Carlaw
Image caption Jackson Carlaw was standing in for Ruth Davidson at FMQs

Deputies deputise - and so it fell to Jackson Carlaw today to pose questions on behalf of the Conservatives to the first minister.

His boss, Ruth Davidson, is on leave, pending motherhood. It is to be hoped that all goes well for her and her soon-to-emerge offspring.

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Brexit dominates as Sturgeon faces committee heads

The first minister regularly faces the serried ranks of Holyrood's committee conveners. Entirely understandably, these sessions can be somewhat disparate, at least as viewed by the wicked media who are zealous in search of news.

Customarily, each convener takes a shottie at posing questions to the FM. This means that the exchanges range across the substantial panoply of Holyrood powers.

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Brexit, borders and backstops

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Media captionPM: Extension would be 'a matter of months'

The Prime Minister's customary demeanour is one of apprehension, as if she has just caught sight of a rather large autumnal spider in her peripheral vision and cannot quite dismiss arachnids from her thoughts.

So it is difficult to be certain. But she seemed to me to be enduring enhanced anguish in Brussels as she tried to explain the latest Brexit proposal, that there might be an extension of the transition period.

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Red lines and resignations

Ruth Davidson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ruth Davidson headed off for maternity leave with a threat that she might not come back

Ruth Davidson is now officially on maternity leave. Our thoughts are with her. May her confinement be contented and all her hopes rewarded.

And her final act before departing the political scene, albeit temporarily? She threatened to resign as Scottish Conservative leader.

Read full article Red lines and resignations