IT IS unlikely that any decision Alex Salmond has taken as First Minister hurt as much as the expected ditching of his plans to get a bill through this parliament paving the way for a referendum on independence.
DAVID Miliband was still at Oxford University when he first accepted an invitation to holiday in Argyll. One of the other holidaymakers, Lord Foulkes recalls: "It was 22 years ago. We were in a large house in Skipness for 14 days and it rained for 13 of them. We played a lot of Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly and, I can tell you, David doesn't like to lose."
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THE stuffy Commons air was heavy with anticipation. The gangways, benches and even the main entrance to the members' lobby beyond were all jammed with MPs eager to hear what the Conservative Chancellor would announce in this, the new administration's first Budget.
Hamish Macdonell: Israel's recent acts of aggression outwith its borders could lose it key allies in the West
THE timing was no coincidence. As the scratchy call to prayer stretched out across the sea from the PA system on Turkish passenger ferry the Mavi Marmara, so the Israeli commandos moved in. It had just gone 4am on Monday, and most of those on the lead ship in the aid flotilla sailing sedately through the eastern Mediterranean towards Gaza were on the aft deck, lowering their heads in pre-dawn prayer.
DAVID Cameron looked straight into the sitting rooms of millions of voters. "If you vote Conservative on Thursday, you can have a new, fresh government, making a clean break and taking our country in a new direction and bringing the change that we need," he said.
This week the first ever President of Europe will be appointed. But exactly what does the job entail, who is going to get it, and what will it mean for Britain, asks Hamish Macdonell
FOR anybody who has even glanced at Scottish politics at any time over the last 50 years, there was one statistic which would have leapt out from the European election results yesterday morning: of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, 22 voted SNP.
IT IS 11 November, the clock strikes 11 and the nation falls silent. Dignitaries, civic and military, pause for two minutes all over the country and then step forward to lay commemorative wreaths at war memorials. It is solemn, it is respectful and it is official.
WITH MPs of all parties scrabbling around for help during these desperate times, maybe they should turn to Marx for the answer – but Groucho, not Karl.
THE expenses scandal currently consuming the House of Commons is a tale of two bunkers: one is the bunker at The Daily Telegraph offices in London where the devastating material is kept, seen only by a chosen few, and the other is the mentality over at the Palace of Westminster where MPs are cowering, fearful of the barrage to come.
'WHY don't we hear more about it? Why isn't there any coverage?" he asked. The questioner was at a European hustings event last Friday that kicked off the European election campaign in Scotland. There were 20 or 30 people there to hear three MEPs and one would-be MEP appeal for their votes.
BY THE time the polls closed for the crucial 2007 election, on Thursday 3 May, the contest was so tight no-one could predict which way it was going to go.
IT ALL USED to be so simple. In the 1970s and 1980s, the battle lines between Labour and the Conservatives were clearly marked in blue and red.
THERE was definitely something reassuring about the story in one of the weekend tabloids – "vice madam" to "name and shame four high-flying Tories", it claimed. Suddenly it seemed as if everything was right with the world, political scandals were back where they were supposed to be.
Hamish Macdonell: Toy pistols and Action Man dolls are not going to create a generation of gun-obsessives
OUR five-year-old son has a voice that can carry the length of the country's biggest supermarkets. He demonstrated this perfectly the other day when he saw one of the many publicity stands promoting Quantum of Solace on DVD.
JUST occasionally, politicians come up with ideas that show, without a shadow of a doubt, that they just don't get it. Labour's Scottish front-bench team came up with one recently. We need a "superbug tsar" they cried. The threat of infection in our hospitals is so acute, they said, that we need to put someone in charge.
SO THE referendum is dead. Scots will not get the chance to vote on independence in the lifetime of this parliament. That's clear. It must be, after all the three main opposition parties have united in condemning the plans and insist they will not change their minds this side of the 2011 election.
LYNCH mobs are never particularly pleasant. They tend to be made up of the gullible and fearful led by smarter people who really should know better.
MIKE Russell is the one senior SNP figure that some hard-core, woad-wearing Nationalists love to hate. He is confident, even arrogant, he is a writer, a broadcaster and (whisper it quietly) he is English-born.
EDINBURGH City Council is looking for a walking co-ordinator. The successful candidate will be expected "to increase physical activity levels of whose who live and work in Edinburgh through walking".
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