Turnberry braced for Trump arrival

Armed police at Turnberry
Image caption A massive police operation is under way around Turnberry, where Mr Trump will spend the weekend

Here at Turnberry, they are ready. The preparations have all been made. The weather is looking fine and settled, albeit a fraction short of the tropical conditions of the last fortnight or so.

Yes, at Trump Turnberry, all is set for the big weekend wedding.

Meanwhile, the golfers are out on the famous links. I have played them myself in the past and can readily attest that they are notably challenging - with ankle-biting gorse and scarcely an accessible fairway on the course. But then my handicap is a little higher than three.

What's that? You're expecting me to write about Donald Trump? Well, firstly, the foregoing tosh is what is known to the wicked media as colour.

Secondly, I would plead that I am merely - and metaphorically - reflecting the faintly surreal nature of the entire visit thus far.

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Cabinet crisis goes into stasis

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are, according to the latter, great chums

The caveat was intriguing, as if President Trump realised mid-phrase that he was about to go too far. The UK, he said, was "in, somewhat, turmoil".

Not, all in all, a particularly helpful comment from an ally. More precisely, not helpful for the political leadership of the UK.

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A bad end to a bad week for the Scottish government

  • 28 June 2018
  • From the section Scotland
Gillian Martin Image copyright Scottish Parliament
Image caption Gillian Martin's old blog posts ended her ministerial career before it had even begun

My interlocutor, a Nationalist MSP, paused before responding to my inquiring glance. Then pronounced. The verdict? "A bad end to a bad week."

The primary concern was the remarkable controversy over Gillian Martin, effectively sacked as a minister before formally taking office.

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Reshuffle: congratulations and commiserations

  • 27 June 2018
  • From the section Scotland
New cabinet
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon unveiled her new, expanded cabinet outside Bute House in Edinburgh

Courtesy first. Warm congratulations to those who have joined the Scottish government or have benefited from promotion.

All around Holyrood today are eager faces, perhaps heading for their first meeting as a minister or contemplating their new remit.

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Frog Minister's Questions

a frog Image copyright PA

Other than family, friends and fellow Arabs, my favourite creatures on the planet are frogs. Followed, in elegant, ambulatory fashion, by toads.

Graceful, gentle and amicable, with a laudable capacity for consuming insects. What's not to like? So you can imagine my horror on learning that their numbers are down in Scotland's gardens.

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Russell and Blackford: the SNP's good cop, bad cop?

  • 19 June 2018
  • From the section Scotland
Scottish parliament flags rally Image copyright PA
Image caption MPs and MSPs have been debating Holyrood's powers and the devolution settlement

Same topic, different day - and the tone markedly less aggressive than in the parallel Westminster exchanges.

Which is not, in practice, setting the bar high. Or low. Or...OK you get the concept. I refer to the Mundell Mauling by Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in the Commons.

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FMQs: What do you call a hummingbird's beak?

hummingbird Image copyright Getty Images

The word of the day was bill. Or perhaps Bill. It emerged firstly in questions from Labour's Richard Leonard who had been sitting an exam before heading to the chamber.

The test, he disclosed, was one essayed by Scotland's five year olds. And, according to Mr Leonard, it was a bit of a stinker.

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A new chapter?

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland had been treated "with utter contempt" by the Westminster system

As is her wont, Nicola Sturgeon remained decidedly calm during her interview with me this afternoon. That, despite the fact that the exchange was designed to build upon dramatic events in the Commons where the SNP group walked out following the temporary expulsion of their leader, Ian Blackford.

In similar fashion, the first minister stressed during an interview with me at the SNP conference in Aberdeen last Friday that she had no intention of using "apocalyptic" language about the Brexit dispute with the UK government.

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Subdued anticipation at the SNP conference

SNP delegates Image copyright Reuters

Party conferences are curious affairs, collective by definition yet frequently singular in nature. They have an intensity all their own, perhaps even more so than in parliamentary debate where fundamentally different standpoints are always readily available.

An issue which can seem crucially important in the conference hall and even more so on the fringe tends to evaporate when confronted with the air outside.

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FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon defends her health secretary

Shona Robison sitting next to Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption Shona Robison had to sit quietly and watch on while opposition leaders called for her head

Politics and especially parliamentary politics has a tendency to develop traditions. Some are quirky and appealing. Others less so.

Scottish government ministers would undoubtedly choose the latter category for a custom which has grown exponentially in recent weeks and months.

Read full article FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon defends her health secretary