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Pushing treacle up a hill

Brian Taylor | 14:20 UK time, Thursday, 10 June 2010

Perhaps they all need a holiday. There was a marked resemblance today between first minister's questions and the enervating task of pushing treacle up a hill.

Watching from the gallery, the would-be Labour leader David Miliband. Perhaps his party has opted for election by ordeal; a modern version of the labours of Hercules.

Indeed, the only moment when the exchanges came, briefly, to life was when they were discussing holidays. Or, specifically, one holiday.

Tavish Scott who leads the Liberal Democrats mused satirically on a letter from the FM exhorting councils to mark St Andrew's Day with a school holiday.

Were there not, Mr Scott suggested, more pressing matters in connection with education? Such as . . . education.

In response, Alex Salmond questioned Mr Scott's patriotism, in decidedly droll fashion, pausing only to take a comparably dry pop at Murdo "Bannockburn" Fraser who has urged Scots to pay more attention to their greatest victory over the Auld Enemy.

And that, pretty much, was that.

Solid and prolonged

Admittedly, there were weighty exchanges between the FM and Iain Gray / Annabel Goldie. They concerned, respectively, business rates and public spending.

Serious matters worthy of serious consideration. But did the discussion of them have to be so solid and prolonged?

As the Salmond / Gray interlocution entered its second millennium, the presiding officer Alex Fergusson suggested mildly that they might care to speed it up a little.

Annabel Goldie tried hard, claiming that the Scottish Government had "secret" plans for potential cuts.

Customarily, the word "secret" acts on journalists like catnip on a feline. Not this time.

As Mr Salmond explained the procedure for determining spending plans, you could almost feel the life oozing from the chamber.

Then again, perhaps I need a holiday.

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