Straight questions and a love of obscure lyrics

  • 26 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Don McLean

When Don McLean was asked to give the meaning of his song, American Pie, he is said to have replied: "It means that I never have to work again if I don't want to."

I have always had a fondness for slightly obscure or challenging lyrics. American Pie, Stairway, early Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, pretty much anything by The Doors.

And Hotel California by The Eagles. Particularly that reference to "pink champagne on ice". There is something about that image, concomitantly luxurious and sordid.

Today at Holyrood the thought returned. No, silly, our MSPs are neither luxurious nor sordid. At least, not on weekdays. I refer to the phrase "pink champagne on ice".

As the temperature rose, exuberant Labour backbenchers took to calling out for Alex Salmond.

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Calling time, ahead of time

  • 24 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland

Why do they do it? Why do our leading politicians sometimes feel the need to emphasise their own political mortality? Why do they set a time limit upon their tenure?

Generally, it is designed to quieten murmurs of discontent within their own party's ranks. It is saying, in effect: "Look, I know you don't like me much. But, hey, I won't be around for ever."

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Blunt talking at Lib Dem conference

  • 20 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Danny Alexander, Willie Rennie and Lord Ashdown
Danny Alexander, Willie Rennie and Lord Ashdown were all scathing towards their political opponents

It must be election time. The rhetoric has become somewhat blunt. Such is certainly the case here in Aberdeen at the Liberal Democrat conference.

Willie Rennie is scathing about the SNP. Danny Alexander excoriates his coalition colleagues, the Conservatives. And Lord Ashdown offers a somewhat brutal critique of his fellow author, Alex Salmond.

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Budget inquest at First Minister's Questions

  • 19 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
George Osborne
The final budget before the 7 May General Election took place in the House of Commons

When contemplating the Barnett consequentials - there now, that's killed your interest in this offering.

Or perhaps enhanced it.

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Closer inspection of 'no coalition' pledges

  • 16 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Ed Miliband

Politics, especially during an election period, is frequently a blend of blunt speaking and rhetorical gavotte. Politicians hope that it is the blunt message, endlessly repeated, which percolates through and resides in the collective consciousness of the electorate.

But the nuances bear inspection too. Such is certainly the case with the declaration delivered by Ed Miliband that his Labour party will not enter a coalition with the SNP in the event of a hung Parliament at Westminster after May's election.

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Insults with a smile at First Minister's Questions

  • 12 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon answers questions at First Minister's Questions
Nicola Sturgeon answers questions at First Minister's Questions

Perhaps they were preparing for Comic Relief. Certainly, there was laughter aplenty in the Holyrood chamber today as MSPs exchanged insults. (You'll find it in the Business Bulletin, listed formally as "Questions to the First Minister").

Kezia Dugdale chortled mightily when Nicola Sturgeon suggested that Labour's "patriotic stance" in defence of Scottish interests - endorsed at the weekend party conference - seemed to be short lived.

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Who is reading what into the latest GERS figures?

  • 11 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Calculator

Thinking back, thinking forward. Survey the latest batch of GERS figures (no, nothing to do with Ibrox, Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland.)

In doing so, I recall a previous such presentation when the senior civil servant attending the briefing said the sums offered no verdict whatsoever upon the prospects for Scotland under independence.

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Miliband: Change with a hint of disdain

  • 7 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland

From Ed Miliband at the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh, a message of contempt, change and disdain.

The contempt was aimed at the Conservatives in the UK government - with just a brief nod to the Liberal Democrats.

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FMQs and the elephant in the room

  • 5 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Elephant in the room
Was the Ashcroft polling the "elephant in the room" at First Minister's Questions?

"Hello. And you are?"

"Coffee, thanks. Black. No sugar."

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The knowing me, knowing you ID debate

  • 4 March 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Woman looking at gap in paperwork
The debate about data access has been hotly debated by politicians and interest groups in Scotland

Not sure about you but I tend to provide the minimum information possible when I am completing official forms. Probably futile, I know, but I have this vague aversion to opening up too much.

You know the sort of thing. You are checking in to an hotel or registering for council tax.

Read full article The knowing me, knowing you ID debate