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Pounding the corridors

Brian Taylor | 15:14 UK time, Tuesday, 2 September 2008

On your behalf, I have spent a fair chunk of today patrolling the corridors at Holyrood, discussing and analysing contemporary political developments.

OK, catching up on the gossip.

So what are they talking about, our MSPs, now that they are back at the last? (at THE last, note, not "at last" - no cheap gags from me about interminable holidays.)

The condition of the economy, of course, in the light of today's announcements on Stamp Duty etc.

The allied condition of the UK Government. Alistair Darling's sundry pronouncements, firstly in The Guardian then in a telly interview with me.

Glenrothes, of course. Labour thinks it can pelt the SNP over its council record in Fife: building on local concern over proclaimed cuts in social provision.

Nationalists insist they can defend that record rather better than G. Brown can defend his at Westminster.

Flummery-free

The upcoming programme for government: Holyrood's flummery-free Queen's Speech. Fifteen bills. More on that tomorrow.

Then there's Wendy. Parliament is due to vote on Thursday on whether to uphold the proposed one-day suspension of Ms Alexander, the erstwhile Labour leader.

You'll recall she was chided by Holyrood's Standards Committee for not declaring leadership donations timeously on the MSP's register.

Her defence was that she had been advised in writing that such a declaration was not required.

Gossip here at Holyrood is that she may well be reprieved. Labour will back her, the Nationalists are likely to vote for suspension, while the word is that the Libdems and the Tories will have a free vote.

The thinking in some quarters is that this is now a bygone controversy, given that she resigned as leader shortly after the committee verdict.

Genuine decision

Further, there are those who take the line advanced by Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor on the committee that sanctions were inappropriate, given Ms Alexander's defence.

There are those who dissent. LibDem MSP Hugh O'Donnell indicated he might quit the standards committee if its proposed verdict wasn't upheld.

But he's no longer scheduled to serve on the committee following the reshuffle advanced by Tavish Scott. No coincidence, I suspect.

Further, there are those who fret that the episode indicates that the entire standards mechanism has become too partisan.

For example the former first minister, Jack McConnell, is arguing that every party should sanction a free vote on such matters: that it should be a genuine Parliamentary decision, not a party vote.

To be clear, such concerns are not confined to Ms Alexander's party. There are those with broader views who know that what affects one party one day may well come round to bite another party on another occasion.

Leave it all with you.

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