Drumlanrig: Spell in the tower for spin doctor

Sir Alexander Fleming. Picture: Getty

Sir Alexander Fleming. Picture: Getty

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STARTING a new job as a strategist to Jim Murphy last week was a familiar face to some of the more experienced inhabitants of the Holyrood media tower.

The former adviser to Jack – now Lord – McConnell, Susan Dalgety (left) has made a return to the Scottish Labour party spin machine.

Acquaintances were renewed when Dalgety did a tour of the media tower, as the hacks were reporting on the Lord Ashcroft poll predicting an apocalyptic meltdown for Scottish Labour and a meteoric rise for the SNP at the general election in May.

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“I’ve only been in post for 24 hours, but I’ve already made a big difference,” said Dalgety, with admirable gallows humour.

Screams of laughter at the library

A parliamentary debate recognising 100 years of Langside Library gave an insight into the reading habits of MSPs.

Christine Grahame revealed that as a big fan of Only Fools And Horses, she had enjoyed reading David Jason’s autobiography. “It was laugh a page and I mean an out-loud laugh a page,” said Grahame.

Her SNP colleague James Dornan paid tribute to Langside for an innovation which has enabled bibliophiles to get hold of fruitier books without embarrassment. He pointed out that Langside was “the first library in Glasgow to allow folk to pick their own books instead of having to request them from the staff”.

As Dornan said, this gave the public “the freedom to select whatever they saw that took their fancy”. He added: “I suspect that if people still had to order books Fifty Shades of Grey would probably be slightly less popular than it appears to be.”

A remark which backed up his point while bringing the discussion neatly round to the sadomasochistic classic of erotic literature.

Empty chair says it all for sorry MSP

Holyrood’s rural affairs, climate change and environment committee (Racce) took a tough line with supermarkets invited to take part in its inquiry into the dairy industry’s recent problems.

It even went as far as issuing threats through its SNP chairman Rob Gibson to “empty chair” those firms who declined to attend its meetings on Wednesday and Thursday – highlighting any absentees by setting a place for them complete with nameplate to shame them for not co-operating.

The threat was made in a letter to Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer bosses, urging them to reconsider their decision not to take part and answer questions from MSPs.

The grandstanding nearly worked as all the supermarkets invited took part, but there was one empty chair when the session opened. That was committee member SNP MSP Angus Macdonald. Macdonald said sorry in advance warning his colleagues that he would be “slightly late”. One assumes Macdonald’s apology spared him a naming and shaming.

Culture that didn’t come from Petri dish

MSPs recognised European Antibiotic Awareness by making a series of speeches in praise of the miraculous medicines.

It was left to the Nationalist MSP Rod Campbell to pay tribute to that great Scot – Sir Alexander Fleming (right), who returned from holiday in September 1928 to find his Petri dish contaminated with a strange mould, which turned out to be Penicillium notatum. Of course Fleming’s great discovery gained him a Nobel Prize and saved countless lives.

Campbell’s salute to the great man reminded Drumlanrig that Fleming is probably the most famous son of the Ayrshire town of Darvel – apart perhaps from post-war Rangers star Sammy Cox.

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