Drumlanrig: Kenny MacAskill | Alex Salmond

Kenny MacAskill. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Kenny MacAskill. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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KENNY MacAskill was the main speaker at the annual media reception at SNP conference on Friday night.

The justice secretary offered a few anecdotes, which included a visit last week to Downing Street for talks at the joint ministerial committee meeting. Unbeknown to the officials in 
No 10, MacAskill had in his inside pocket a draft section of the SNP government’s white paper. The only pity, however, is that he didn’t leave it lying next to a photocopier. MacAskill – famous for having been detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure during the 2000 Scotland-England football match – therefore managed to get out of the capital this time without embarrassing himself.

Labour of love sealed with a friendly kiss

ANDREW Wilson, columnist of this paper, received resounding applause from a full hall in Perth yesterday after giving the annual Donaldson lecture (See Page 15). The party faithful even applauded his suggestion that the SNP and Labour have more that they agree on than disagree on and might one day work together. “I don’t think that would have got a clap at Labour conference,” he said, to more laughter. First to congratulate Wilson as the speech finished was deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose place as Heir Apparent to his Royal Eckness is rock solid. But given the glowing reception Wilson received yesterday, perhaps there is now some competition. The pair gave each other a kiss at the end of the speech – clearly the rivalry is intense.

Charity may have scored an own goal

MOST popular stall at the conference was that occupied by the Prostate Cancer UK charity, thanks to the addition of a table football game. Most SNP ministers were cajoled into playing. Sturgeon scored a measly goal in her own match-off. But at least she managed to get it in the net, unlike John Swinney, who drew a blank and got thumped by the charity’s own hotshots. Let’s hope they’re not putting in funding applications any time soon.

Fighting fit or skinny dipping?

It is not just Alex Salmond’s Bikini Diet that has attracted comments at conference.

Swinney is looking trim, although this owes more to long-distance running and cycling than Salmond’s approach of giving up curry for two days a week. The finance secretary has been so successful that friends are wondering if he has become too lean. “You’re looking awfy thin, John,” was one conference regular’s greeting. “I wish you would say svelte rather than thin,” was Swinney’s response.