Bowls and Muskets

  • Mark Devenport
  • 11 May 07, 05:10 PM

So Bertie gave Ian a wooden bowl at St Andrews, and Ian returned the favour today when he visited the site of the Battle of the Boyne by giving the Taoiseach a musket. Will Bertie use it on Enda Kenny or Vincent Browne?

If King Billy's supporters had given King James' boys a few muskets back in 1690 then history might have been different. It's said that amongst King James' 25,000 strong army one man in every three had no musket and another man in every three had a musket that wouldn't fire.

No need for muskets now, according to the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey. Interviewed for tomorrow's Inside Politics he tells me that Thursday's Executive meeting was unbelievably "matey". He suspects work has been going on between the DUP and Sinn Fein for some time.

The Ulster Unionist Minister controls 47% of the new executive's budget, but he's not hopeful about getting any more cash to spend out of Gordon Brown. Instead he reckons the Chancellor is now focussed on his move into Number Ten and will steadfastly refuse to give the Executive ministers any further cash injection. Perhaps they will need that musket back after all...

Working together

  • Brian Taylor
  • 11 May 07, 04:09 PM

Startling us all, Gordon Brown has declared that he wants to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

He wants a government of all the talents, he concedes that mistakes were made in Iraq and he wants to listen and learn.

But could he work with Alex Salmond as First Minister?

Asked at his news conference today, he skipped over the question. Significant? Not really, no.

Remember that the official (Labour) fiction is that the issue of the governance of Scotland remains unsettled.

Remember that Alex Salmond has yet to become First Minister. G. Brown was reflecting these circumstances.

Can he work with an SNP administration? He wouldn't have any choice. They got more votes than Labour.

They're more entitled to be in power. Gordon Brown is a democrat.

Would he work for an SNP administration, would he forward their main aim of independence? Of course not - but that is a rather different question, prompting a rather different answer.

PS: Alex Fergusson has now put himself forward for the post of Presiding Officer at Holyrood. (Incidentally, that's not the Man Utd manager. Check the spelling of the name.) But then you knew that was going to happen. You read it here yesterday.

Big deal

  • Brian Taylor
  • 11 May 07, 03:13 PM

It's a deal! In truth, it's not all that big a deal. But we have a contract between the SNP and the Greens. (Is there a sanity clause? You can't kid me, there ain't no Sanity Claus. Copyright: Groucho and Chico Marx.)

So what is this deal? The SNP and the Greens agree that - they won't build any new nuclear power stations; they'll introduce a law to cut climate-change pollution year on year (instead of vague longer-term targets); and they'll "work to extend the responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament."

And that's it. In return, the Greens will vote for Alex Salmond as First Minister - and will also support his ministerial appointments. The Greens will get one of the SNP's committee convenerships.

Critics are already saying that the Greens haven't extracted much in the way of concessions. No end to road building programmes, for example. Get real, guys.

The Greens bring precisely two votes to the table. Count them - two. The Nats have 47 without their aid.

This is more about the concept of co-operation - although, for Alex Salmond, it's more than handy to be able to count on two votes in his corner, rather than ranged against him.

I say again, this is more about symbolism. This is aimed at the Liberal Democrats.

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