FMQs: Solemn exchanges on a grave topic

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA

A solemn and purposeful session of questions to the first minister, not least because the opening topic was so brutally grave.

Ruth Davidson raised the subject of Robbie McIntosh, a convicted killer who tried to kill a Dundee woman while on home leave from prison.

Describing the case as appalling, the Conservative leader urged a review of such leave provisions. She pursued her case with passion, vigour and determination.

Ms Davidson told the chamber: "Why is a killer let loose to try to kill again? Why are the dice loaded against victims and in favour of criminals again? Why do we only act when another family is left to pick up the pieces of their lives?"

Self-evidently, this was a challenging moment for the first minister. She could not simply rebut the appeal from Ms Davidson. She knew, she knew that the victim's family in this individual case required more, required better.

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Movement on Brexit row - but no deal, yet

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Are there signs of movement in the long-running row over the return of EU powers to Scotland, post Brexit? Yes there are.

Are we close to a settlement? Depends to whom one talks.

Read full article Movement on Brexit row - but no deal, yet

A token debate on a historic day

Derek Mackay
Image caption Derek Mackay saw his tax proposals approved at Holyrood

It was an historic moment. Holyrood making substantial use of income tax powers for the first time. MSPs voting for the biggest change in taxation since the advent of devolution.

As is so often the case with such moments, there was a certain lassitude about proceedings. A sense of role play. All passion spent, a sense of a token, faintly totemic debate.

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FMQs: The youthful life of Nicola Sturgeon

prestwick sign

To those who find our politicians remote and unfeeling, today's discourse at Holyrood would have come as a counterpoise.

We learned much, en passant, about the youthful life of our own first minister. Was it full of fun and frivolity, I hear you ask. Was it one frantic whirl of parties and riotous jollity?

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FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon goes straight to the point

FMQs Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many of the exchanges at FMQs followed up on the budget deal struck the previous day

Elected politicians are customarily the gentlest of souls. Polite and restrained. So it was startling to discover at Holyrood today that they can be somewhat rude to each other.

Frankly, most of the insults came from the first minister. She said, inter alia, that the Tories were a "waste of space", that Ruth Davidson was "feeble" and that the Labour offer on tax was "incompetent".

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A good day for Derek Mackay

Derek Mackay
Image caption Derek Mackay was congratulated by Nicola Sturgeon after securing a budget deal

There was a discernible pattern to events during the Budget debate at Holyrood this afternoon. Indeed, a mischievous Murdo Fraser suggested that the entire affair, the deal with ministers and the Greens, had been choreographed.

And then didn't Patrick Harvie, he of the Greens, refresh the entire business with a string of contentious proposals at the very end of his speech?

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Terminological inexactitude

Willie Rennie Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Rennie was rebuked by the presiding officer for accusing Ms Sturgeon of lying about the children's ward

The great constitutionalist, Walter Bagehot, divided the affairs of state into two broad sectors, the dignified and the efficient.

The first might be roughly characterised as pomp and pageantry, the circus of politics felt necessary to impress and, in less enlightened times, subdue the citizenry. The second was the daily work of governance.

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Frank evidence from police bosses

Iain Livingstone

This morning's session of the justice committee at Holyrood was a fairly cautious affair. The tone was set from the outset, quite justifiably, by the convener, Margaret Mitchell.

She reminded members of the committee - and their witnesses - that the topic concerned existing investigations into the chief constable of Police Scotland and other senior serving officers.

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No shortage of rhetoric at FMQs - just of novelty

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon defended her justice secretary from Tory attacks

Effort, there was, aplenty. Both Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon gave their all in verbal conflict as they discussed the continuing saga of Police Scotland's chief constable.

Ms Davidson accused the first minister of presiding over "secret Scotland". Lest a few deluded souls might regard this as a good thing, she added: "It stinks."

Read full article No shortage of rhetoric at FMQs - just of novelty

Indyref2 talk crowded out by Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon waved away any talk of indyref2 during her Brexit press conference

There is a sentence frequently heard in the House of Commons. It is along the lines of "I refer my honourable friend to the reply I gave some moments ago."

It is a useful shorthand, avoiding unnecessary repetition. Very occasionally, if delivered with particular venom or irony, it can also mean: "I've already answered that, you bozo, weren't you listening?"

Read full article Indyref2 talk crowded out by Brexit