First Minister's Questions: On the road to indyref two?

  • 30 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took part in First Minister's Questions one week ahead of polls opening

Labour's Kezia Dugdale adopted a novel approach in questioning the First Minister. One which dispensed with customary niceties. You know, waiting for the reply before pouncing with the supplementary. That sort of thing.

Adopting a mock-weary tone - actually, given these challenging times, it could have been the real thing. Anyway, adopting a tone, she described the normal run of events in the chamber at Holyrood.

She would ask a question - say about an independence referendum. The FM would duck it. Ms Dugdale would then persist - only to be met with the assertion that the people would decide.

Pleading for a shortcut, she urged the First Minister to tell the chamber - and also that wise and sensible portion of the nation watching with me on the BBC - whether the SNP planned an early rerun of the plebiscite or not.

Nicola Sturgeon sympathised, very briefly. She noted that Ms Dugdale was describing a democratic process but could understand if Labour were mildly chagrined by such matters, having seen the opinion polls.

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Election 2015: Keep taking the pastilles

  • 28 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Sore throat

Understandably, our political leaders are beginning to sound - occasionally - a little hoarse. I sympathise: my own consumption of throat pastilles has increased measurably.

However, it is to be hoped that their various voices last out. They may have a bit of talking to do after the election is over. To each other.

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English votes for English laws 'fully revived'

  • 24 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron

A previous Conservative leader once told me a story. The narrative concerned the stump speech which said leader was deploying at the time. This was, I emphasise, a wee while back.

The speech, as delivered in town halls around England, generally went like this. "We are the party of low taxation". Polite applause. "We intend to be in Europe but not run by Europe". Polite applause with some notable abstentions. "We are the party of English votes for English laws." Loud applause, roof in danger.

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First Minister's Questions: Slaying dragons and lizards

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
St George's Day
The battle for votes continued on 23 April - St George's Day

St George's Day - and are there dragons still to be slain? The Institute for Fiscal Studies inclines towards a yes although they appear to detect qualities pertaining to a large lizard in each of the competing parties' offers.

They urge the Conservatives to provide more detail with regard to their proposed spending cuts. They say that Labour has been "vague" about the extent of planned borrowing. The Liberal Democrats are reckoned to be somewhat optimistic about efficiencies.

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Election 2015: Scottish Liberal Democrats 'keep their heads'

  • 21 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Rudyard Kipling
Willie Rennie quoted the words of Rudyard Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs."

It was, said Willie Rennie, a question of Kipling. No, nothing to do with cakes even although the location was a patisserie in South Queensferry.

The Kipling at issue was Rudyard of that ilk, story writer, poet and, for a spell, Rector at Scotland's oldest and finest university.

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Election 2015: Sturgeon's evangelical message to people of UK

  • 20 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP's manifesto was "bursting with ideas"

It would have been easy, so easy, for the SNP manifesto launch to slide towards bombast. The elements were all there.

The polls suggest a substantial lead for the Nationalists. The venue was, literally, cavernous and crowded with eager supporters - who were ready to cheer volubly at any mention of independence, Scotland or indeed Nicola Sturgeon.

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Election 2015: Labour looks to second phase to win over sceptics

  • 17 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
labour
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy at the manifesto launch in Glasgow

Inevitably, one hears talk that this is a notably prolonged General Election campaign. And so it is, courtesy of the fixed term parliament initiative.

Of course, we referendistas look upon such comments with a gentle, indulgent smile. Lengthy? You think this is lengthy? Where were you in 2011/12/13/14?

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Election 2015: Scottish Tory leader and her warm up act

  • 16 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron
Ruth Davidson and David Cameron were on stage together to launch their party's Scottish manifesto

Ruth Davidson was in confident mood. I know, I know, that statement is tautologous. But, even by Ms Davidson's ebullient standards, her demeanour at the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto was upbeat.

Perhaps it was the presence of the Prime Minister - her "warm-up act" as she, rather cheekily, described him. Perhaps it was the simple sleepless emotion of an election.

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Clegg makes pitch for Wizard of Oz role

  • 15 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg: ''The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one''

For reasons I find somewhat difficult to explain, I have never been a huge fan of the movie, "The Wizard of Oz".

I mean, it's not as though I entirely revile fantasy narratives. When younger, I roamed happily through Gormenghast and Middle Earth.

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Taxing times for evel proposals

  • 14 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron and Union flag

Let's talk EVEL. Note the spelling. We are dealing here with English Votes on English Laws. Specifically, in this instance, elements of financial provision.

A considerable controversy has arisen over this issue as presented in the Conservative manifesto. Labour's Jim Murphy says that the plan set out by the Tories is "a brutal betrayal of the consensus" achieved in the cross-party Smith Commission.

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