Sturgeon saved from a Brexit-free FMQs

Nicola Sturgeon

Somehow one could tell. Was the demeanour just faintly more eager than customary? Or was there an atmosphere, a political ectoplasm, offering a spectral clue?

Whatever, it seemed to this observer that Nicola Sturgeon was desperate to be asked about Brexit and the European elections.

Snag is it was obvious to the presiding officer too. And so, when it happened, Ken Macintosh intervened to suggest, gently, that Ms Sturgeon might tone down the overt electioneering.

Of course, he had alternative routes available to him, probably derived from his excellent BBC training. (Once imbibed, it doesn't leave you.)

He could have stepped in to say "other parties are available". Or he might have followed the practice generally adopted by BBC football commentators when industrial language is heard from the surrounding grandstand, perhaps anent the parentage of the ref.

Sensitive ears

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FMQs: Rennie riles sharp Sturgeon

Willie Rennie
Image caption Willie Rennie pursued a broad range of issues with Nicola Sturgeon

Today sundry MSPs posed questions to the first minister, as is their Thursday habit. The questions were eclectic, ranging from the ethereal to the blunt.

But here's another one - what has Nicola Sturgeon got against Willie Rennie?

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Ruth's return

Ruth Davidson Image copyright PA

A curious event, the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen. Overtly courageous, rather than truly confident.

It was as if every time the representatives rose to their feet to applaud their elected tribunes, their brain kicked in with a reminder of Brexit.

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'Demob happy' at first minister's questions

Jackson Carlaw Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jackson Carlaw gave the camera a crytpic clue on his way into the Holyrood chamber

When questions to the first minister loom, it is the custom of the wicked media to station ourselves outside the Holyrood chamber in order to capture images of the arriving tribunes.

Sometimes we will shout a question on the topic of the day, hoping for a relevant response. Always, the cameras will be present to record the moment.

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SNP conference: Nicola Sturgeon veers from the norm

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said delegates should view critics as fellow citizens in her party conference speech

Party conferences are, by definition, partisan affairs. Opportunities to say how wonderful your own offer is and, by contrast, what a shower your opponents are.

Rival parties are to be condemned, to be lampooned, to be satirised. Their name is a hissing and a by-word.

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First Minister's Questions: Lessons learned

exam Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Exams are being held in schools across Scotland

This is, the first minister reminded us, the first day of school certificate exams in Scotland. Instantly, a twinge of memory assailed me.

There I was, an eager teenager in the great and noble city of Dundee, skulking furtively into a small hall off South Tay Street, close to where the Rep now stands.

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Sturgeon's Indyref2 announcement - a tale of two statements

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Reuters

There were two statements at Holyrood today. The one delivered by the First Minister. And an entirely different version, as heard by her opponents.

It was evident in the reaction. The SNP benches responded with applause, albeit solemn rather than ecstatic. After all, this is still nirvana deferred.

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Council tax - a problem through the decades

Monopoly houses Image copyright Getty Images

With Brexit seemingly intractable, some minds have inevitably sought solace in alternative pursuits. Golf? Hang-gliding? Cluedo?

No, the real fun is apparently to be found in trying to find a replacement for the council tax. Cross-party talks are scheduled, at least in soft pencil, and Cosla are pitching in ideas, given that they have a decided stake in the outcome.

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PMQs: A tribute to Orwell

House of Commons Image copyright UK Parliament

As the prime minister rose, Big Ben sonorously struck thirteen.

What was happening? Had the UK courageously entered an entirely new time zone, remote from our neighbours, free from any lingering continental shackles?

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Willie Rennie's charm offensive

Willie Rennie

Politicians all too rarely receive compliments. In these troubled times, they have had to become inured to the biting wound of insult rather than the soothing swab of flattery.

But today brought an exception. Willie Rennie, he who leads the Liberal Democrats, was described at Holyrood as charming.

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