Testing times for the Scottish government

  • 18 September 2018
  • From the section Scotland
classroom Image copyright PA
Image caption The subject of primary education has become a hot topic at Holyrood

Just been chatting to parents at a primary school round the corner from Holyrood. You will not be remotely surprised to learn that they are decidedly engaged in the controversy about P1 assessment.

Not, of course, the political battle which will come to a head in parliament tomorrow. Rather, the pragmatic consideration as to whether these assessments are a good idea or not.

Opinion was, understandably, divided. That division undoubtedly reflects established individual views, perhaps amplified either way by the attendant war of words.

I found some parents open to further discussion, if generally veering one way or t'other. I also found some decidedly committed, either way.

For example, the parent who firmly backed assessment, arguing that it was right to discern from an early stage whether there were any issues with a child's education.

Read full article Testing times for the Scottish government

Differences of opinion

SNP front bench
Image caption Education Secretary John Swinney was on hand to help Nicola Sturgeon with her parliamentary tests

It was not, Nicola Sturgeon insisted, that the Educational Institute of Scotland were wrong. Perish the thought. Rather she and they had "a difference of opinion" over P1 testing.

Don't you just love that? Certainly, the Holyrood chamber did. Opposition MSPs guffawed and even a few Nationalists seemed to be stifling giggles.

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Dundee's renaissance - a personal, alternative view

The new V&A has got people taking notice of Dundee again Image copyright Hufton Crow
Image caption The new V&A has got people taking notice of Dundee again

Wallace House is an integral part of my old school in Dundee. The other school "houses", since you inquire so politely, are Airlie, Aystree and Lindores. (Go Aystree.)

Each name arises from antiquity, in and around the great and noble city of Dundee. For example, the Abbot of Lindores first created the school in 1239.

Read full article Dundee's renaissance - a personal, alternative view

Constitutional chess at Holyrood

Mike Russell statement
Image caption Mike Russell provided MSPs with an update on preparations for Brexit

Brexit is scary, welcome or intriguing, according to taste. Those tendering a welcome are those who were most eager to bring about a Leave vote in the first place.

Some polls suggest that their numbers may have been depleted somewhat by progress, or lack of it, since the referendum in 2016. But no matter. There are those who look forward with real zeal to Brexit.

Read full article Constitutional chess at Holyrood

Two families, united in grief

  • 6 September 2018
  • From the section Scotland
families

Two families. United in grief but also anger about the treatment of victims in the criminal justice system. Sitting, silently, side by side in the public gallery at Holyrood.

Nicola Sturgeon's immediate challenge was to answer the points about victims' rights raised by Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader.

Read full article Two families, united in grief

An outbreak of body language at Holyrood

parliament
Image caption Willie Rennie's speech was not greeted with acclaim from the SNP front bench

Body language has a considerable role to play in parliamentary discourse. One thinks of dismissive hand gestures or the occasional satirical smile.

We witnessed a different - but still significant - variant of the genre in play at Holyrood today.

Read full article An outbreak of body language at Holyrood

No SNP civil war, but turmoil can be just as bad

Alex Salmond denies the claims made against him Image copyright Jeff J Mitchell
Image caption Alex Salmond denies the claims made against him

Spent much of today chatting to sundry folk within the SNP and the wider independence movement. The topic? Alex Salmond and the political impact of this quite remarkable controversy.

I was struck by the plaintive, woebegone nature of the exchanges - or most of them. Struck but not remotely surprised. In the short-term, it is hard to see the events of the past week as anything other than deeply damaging for the SNP.

Read full article No SNP civil war, but turmoil can be just as bad

Gers: One report, many interpretations

scotland banknotes Image copyright Getty Images

It is a given in politics that our elected tribunes will cleave to descriptions of contemporary life which best accord with their own, predisposed outlook.

Still more is this true of unelected tribunes, of those who are seeking our support and endorsement.

Read full article Gers: One report, many interpretations

Turnberry braced for Trump arrival

Armed police at Turnberry
Image caption A massive police operation is under way around Turnberry, where Mr Trump will spend the weekend

Here at Turnberry, they are ready. The preparations have all been made. The weather is looking fine and settled, albeit a fraction short of the tropical conditions of the last fortnight or so.

Yes, at Trump Turnberry, all is set for the big weekend wedding.

Read full article Turnberry braced for Trump arrival

Cabinet crisis goes into stasis

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are, according to the latter, great chums

The caveat was intriguing, as if President Trump realised mid-phrase that he was about to go too far. The UK, he said, was "in, somewhat, turmoil".

Not, all in all, a particularly helpful comment from an ally. More precisely, not helpful for the political leadership of the UK.

Read full article Cabinet crisis goes into stasis