Unspun: the Herald’s political diary

Scottish Minister Alister Jack gave a lengthy interview to Holyrood magazine this week in which he revealed how he got into Cabinet. The Tories were unable to find another candidate at Dumfries & Galloway in 2017. His wife told him to do it, so he agreed. “It was just a phone call on Sunday night asking if I knew any candidate and on Tuesday night I was adopted.” He could be with the Lords soon. Isn’t democracy great?

memory track

Mr. Jack’s amazing memory was also noted in the interview. (Unexpected but true.) Though he may have a blind spot for his hero, Boris Johnson. “As I walked the streets of Scotland with him, I found that people were incredibly supportive,” he recalls. However, Mr Johnson famously did not dare to walk the streets on his few visits here as Prime Minister. Aside from a brief photo op at a fish market, he hid behind the barbed wire of high-security sites like Faslane. Still, avoiding being shot by the guards must be counted as a success for Mr. Jack.

Wheels of Destiny

UNSPUN sends its very best wishes to BBC Scotland political editor Glenn Campbell, who is in hospital after suffering ten fractured ribs in a bicycle accident. No, that’s not a misprint, ten. His BBC colleagues at Holyrood are caring souls, so they put their heads together to think of a present. They got him a pair of stabilizer bars for his bike.

Slater or less

The Scottish Tories were delighted when SNP outsider Fergus Ewing backed their bid to sack Green Minister Lorna Slater over the DRS debacle on Tuesday. But her greatest joy came when Ms Slater was defended by fellow Green man Mark Ruskell. “This Parliament needs more Lorna Slaters and so does the Government,” he enthused. “So get used to her. It’s just getting started.” A promise the Tories can’t wait to place on their leaflets.

Ferris Crueller

HOLYROOD magazine also ran a question and answer session with Airdrie & Shotts SNP MP Anum Qaisar. Though usually irrepressible, she turns out to have a secret weakness. “I’m terrified of Ferris wheels,” she admits. “I think it’s because it’s just so slow. Roller coasters are really fast and done in seconds. A Ferris wheel takes forever.” Surely the perfect training for self-employment?

A lady with two hats

Speaking of phobias, Jackie Baillie’s gong on the King’s birthday was a mixed blessing for Union’s ‘Dumbarton Rock’. While she can now splurge at Holyrood as First Lady of Parliament, she must also obtain a hat, a fashion accessory she loathes. When she first met the Queen, she didn’t know one was required (she says) and tried to go without. However, Scottish Labor colleague Willie Haughey was horrified and made sure she was properly wrapped. Now it’s time for a second trip to the hatter’s looms. “I have to ask Willie for advice,” she sighs. Given his influence in the party, she should be used to it.

Happy clapping

FMQs briefly turned into a public information announcement when Humza Yousaf was asked about the post-lockdown rise in gonorrhea and other abdominal conditions. “There are simple and painless tests for gonorrhea,” he said, adding that the Scottish Government would target all age groups. “We’re going to make sure we take a broad approach.” Au. Doesn’t sound very painless to us.

Grace Reader

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