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Court of Holyrood opinion

Brian Taylor | 14:59 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

There he was, the first minister, boldly arguing his case before the court of public opinion - when up pops a Lib Dem to call him "the prisoner".

Seems a bit harsh. Can it be right? Do "shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy?" Does the slammer beckon?

Of course not. Robert Brown, for it was he, was on about justice and simply mis-spoke. (He meant to say "first minister".)

You know how it is. It's easily done. For example, you say "I am completely against tuition fees" - and forget to add the caveat "unless I am in power."

Anyway, rather than an inmate, Alex Salmond was acting the role of defence counsel.

Behind him, looking just a little sheepish, was Stewart Stevenson. Aka "the accused".

His opponents were convinced. He was guilty as charged.

Minister backed

Indeed, Labour's Iain Gray appeared to be donning a metaphorical black cap as he pronounced sentence.

Mr Salmond dissented. Yes, communication could have been better.

But the weather had been extraordinary, surpassing the forecast. He backed his minister.

The FM then suggested that Scotland might require to enhance its preparations for such hideous weather on a more regular basis.

That did not mean, he stressed, that the government would neglect the immediate challenge.

Far from it. Rather, in tandem, they had to consider the longer term challenge.

Years, as Wordsworth would have it, "that bring the philosophic mind".


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