Stramash over the 'L-word' at Holyrood

Media captionNicola Sturgeon was heckled and called a "liar" during first minister's questions

Parliamentary discourse differs from street speech. It is more mannered, more studied. Such is the case even at Holyrood where the Westminster linguistic traditions - Right Honourable, the Other Place etc - are set aside.

But, still, most phrasing is permissible. Personally, a little light of joy enters my otherwise stern soul when I hear a Scots word deployed. I long to hear an MSP regret that a particular debate has descended into a clanjamfrie.

It takes me back to the days when I was the semi-official expert on the Scots tongue for the Hansard reporters in the Commons. When Donald Dewar got to his feet, they would frequently cast a knowing glance my way, suggesting my translation services would soon be required.

However, even within that broad ambit, some words are best excluded. I would, for example, frown upon an elected member who sought to debate antidisestablishmentarianism.

More to the point, some words are, in effect, prohibited. Such is the case with that fine noun, "liar". MSPs do not call each other Honourable (or Gallant, Learned and the rest). But they still seek comfort in the attendant sentiment.

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Fiscal framework: PM's different messages to different audiences

Media captionDavid Cameron: "I want the SNP, here and in Holyrood, to have to start making decisions."

So what to make of the prime minister's comments anent the continuing row between the UK and Scottish governments over future funding, over the fiscal framework?

In particular, what do they make of it in governing circles at Holyrood? From the chat today, one discerns two distinct responses, albeit ones that blur at the edges as is commonly the way in the difficult world of politics.

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Fiscal framework: Clock ticks on doing a deal

Big Ben Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Time ticks on as both sides attempt to agree the fiscal framework

According to David Mundell, the gap between the UK and Scottish governments on the subject of future spending amounts to a "molehill" - by comparison, that is, with the tax powers on offer.

Pursued by the wicked media, Mr Mundell declined to quantify the size of said molehill. However, he gave us to understand that it was small.

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Behind the scenes at Holyrood

  • 3 February 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Holyrood chamber Image copyright PA
Image caption MSPs have been discussing the 2016/17 Scottish budget

Attention in parliament tends to focus, understandably, upon the elected tribunes of the people.

After all, they have the vote, they have the stage, they have the limelight (or its contemporary environmental equivalent.)

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The penny rise is a taxing problem

  • 2 February 2016
  • From the section Scotland
One pence coins Image copyright Thinkstock

What to make of Labour's tax proposal? At minimum, at nadir, it gives Kezia Dugdale something to say when she confronts the now customary challenge from the First Minister as to Labour's grand design for sustaining public services in this age of enforced austerity.

At the other end of the spectrum, at zenith, it may prompt a much wider, much more durable debate about the provision and funding of said services within Holyrood's new, expanding ambit. That, at least, is the hope of key Labour strategists.

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Fiscal framework exit strategies emerge

  • 1 February 2016
  • From the section Scotland
coins on checkerboard Image copyright pamela_d_mcadams

Interesting moves in the negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments over future powers for Holyrood. You'll know that these are designed to finalise the fiscal framework which accompanies newly devolved tax clout.

By "accompanies", one might equally say "completes". For, without the fiscal framework, there is no agreement as to likely levels of available public spending in Scotland for future years.

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Penny for Willie Rennie's tax raising thoughts

  • 27 January 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Pennies piled high
Image caption Pennies from heaven? Lib Dem Willie Rennie resurrects a tax policy from the past

Penny for Scotland, anyone? Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats believes that sufficient voters will say Yes to that offer to allow it to attract the title "popular".

The phrase "Penny for Scotland" is, of course, most commonly attached to the proposal by the SNP at the Holyrood elections in 1999 to reverse, for Scotland alone, a cut in income tax announced by the then Labour Chancellor.

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Holyrood countdown: Who wants to be elected?

  • 26 January 2016
  • From the section Scotland

He is not my favourite singer. Not even close. But I have always found the partial banishment of ennui in the work of Alice Cooper.

For one thing, he has the same name as my late aunt. (OK, she was properly Alice-Mary. And she spelled her surname a different way. But who's quibbling?)

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Taxing times at Holyrood

  • 25 January 2016
  • From the section Scotland
scottish banknotes Image copyright Thinkstock

Things seldom stand still. Politics contains its own momentum, driving matters forward to the next controversy, the next announcement, the next election.

That is eminently so with regard to the pending Holyrood contest. Already, it appears evident that there will be significant controversy over tax plans which, to be clear, have yet to be finally endorsed and which, if they are, will not be implemented until next year, long after the ballot boxes have been packed away again.

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On manoeuvres at First Minister's Questions

  • 21 January 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Children colouring in, generic Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Scottish government's free childcare plan was examined at FMQs

Just an average day. A familiar session of questions to the First Minister. Relatively sharp exchanges over public spending. Pleas from the chair for brevity.

That plus an armed invasion.

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