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IN THE absence of my colleague Ian Stewart, the job of ombudsman falls to me this week. First up is the issue of the Royal Family, and respect for.
YOU may not have noticed, but yesterday marked a historical reckoning of sorts for the Conservative Party. In publishing a major report on social breakdown in Britain, something David Cameron is clearly concerned about, the Tories openly acknowledged the disastrous flip-side of the high-octane neo-liberal economy created by Margaret Thatcher.
I HAVE, it seems, become a "bloke". No, I haven't started going to the pub every Friday and Saturday night to down 20 pints, pausing only to slur out some pointless view about a football match that I watched on the telly. Nor have I moved to Australia.
I THINK it is fair to say that 2006 has been more notable for the demise of big ideas than the emergence of exciting new ones, unless of course you count, ahem, road pricing.
WHEN the issue of Scottish representation in the British Parliament - article 22 provided for 45 MPs and 16 members of the House of Lords - reared its head again, there was an outbreak of strongly nationalistic sentiment among the opposition.
THREE hundred years ago to the day, the Scottish Parliament began debating article 15 of the Treaty of Union on the Equivalent - the sum of money to be paid to Scotland in recompense for taking its share of England's debts.
ARTICLE 9 of the treaty of union related to what Clerk of Penicuik describes as the "land tax".
PARLIAMENT now moved quickly through the remaining articles of the treaty. Debate began on article eight, which was designed to impose the same duty on salt in England and Scotland.
ON 20 November, 1706, the articles of Union were burned at Dumfries. This affront to the political process was raised in parliament almost two weeks later.
IT IS a common misconception that when the Scottish and English parliaments approved the Treaty of Union in 1707, the former was simply subsumed by the latter.
IT WAS a good night for my hameland at the Herald/Diageo Scottish Politician of the Year awards last Thursday, with the Shetland Sakchai Makao campaigners winning the public campaign of the year and Tavish Scott, the island's MSP and the transport minister, picking up the award for debater of the year.
THE court of public opinion is a pretty tough place to argue a case, especially for politicians in an era of great cynicism about their motives and achievements.
EVERYTHING that is wrong with politicians jumping on the environment bandwagon was neatly summed up by one little event last week.
SCOTLAND'S chief medical officer, Dr Harry Burns, last week became the latest public figure to jump on the "happiness" bandwagon when he suggested that we should get over the "doom and gloom" instilled in the Scottish psyche by the Presbyterian preacher John Knox, and cheer up a bit if we want to be healthier.
THE best comedy is, of course, deadly serious. The nature of the attack by Tory MP David Mundell yesterday on Michael Fry, the historian and former Conservative candidate, for jettisoning his unionist beliefs and coming out in favour of independence was both laugh-out-loud hilarious and profoundly, if depressingly, revealing.
WHEN it finally came, it wasn't so much an apology as an attempt to clarify what he had meant by his incendiary remarks.
I VISITED the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua this summer, to see one of the finest works of art in Christian (indeed any) civilisation.