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Christmas quiz time. Who said this? "We need to get on with rehabilitating prisoners. It will stop the remorseless rise in the number of people in prison. Some of my critics just say we should put more and more people in prison for longer and longer. I don't think that's the best way of protecting society."
ONE of the few benefits of having been around a while as a jobbing hack of this parish is you remember stuff. Not all the stuff, of course. Dead brain cells and the march of time have seen to that. However, there is enough there to bring back memories of political stories of yore, and to put them into context in terms of today's debate.
The eagle in the alcove was wearing pearls and a look which combined insouciance with contempt. Stuffed the great bird may have been but presumably at some point it had witnessed a great party – hence the pearls – and was now affecting disdain for all it surveyed.
A LONG, long, time ago, just after the 1992 election when it seemed Labour might never return to power, I took a young party researcher out to lunch, paid for by my then employers, a Fleet Street Sunday newspaper.
Liberated by sexuality being a matter of record, Lord Peter Mandelson would, twinkle in his eye, take great delight in accusing opponents like George Osborne of political "cross-dressing" when they were shamelessly plagiarising policy.
What ever happened to academic freedom? It is a tenet of higher eduction which university staff maintain is fundamental to their intellectual integrity. They must be able to think the unthinkable, to frame thesis and antithesis unshackled by vested interest, to probe and challenge conventional wisdom.
Compassion fatigue. It's a well-charted phenomenon in the charity world. People can only take so much when it comes to seeing pictures of starving children, fleeing refugees or villages surrounded by flood waters before they become inured. It may not be right, but it is human nature.
IT IS hard to imagine now but 13 years ago was a time of optimism,. of hope, of enthusiasm. A time before cynicism. The time for home rule for Scotland.
HANDS up all those who will, like me, scream and reach for the radio or television off button the next time they hear a minister talking, in the obligatory sonorous tone, about having to make "tough choices". Yes, thought so. Thousands of you. Always good to know one is not alone.
IT TAKES a brave man, or woman, to step outside the cosy Caledonian consensus and confront reality.
DENIAL, anger, acceptance. In shorthand it is known as the grief cycle.
IT WILL not come as much consolation to you if you work at a soon-to-close Diageo plant or for a threatened shipbuilding company, but there were further signs yesterday that things are looking up.
IT IS, of course, a good thing that Tesco Personal Finance is to create an extra 200 jobs at its new Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh.
PREVIEWING companies' annual meetings is almost as dangerous for a journalist as writing stories in advance of the Budget.
TO SAY that businesses are angry at the behaviour of the banks would be like saying the public are a tad miffed over MPs' expenses.
FROM a business perspective, who is the most powerful individual in the United Kingdom?
IT WAS a very Mandelson moment. The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, to give him his full title, had been asked if the economy was over the worst.
I DON'T know if Rick Moranis does political comedy. Perhaps he should consider it.