So farewell Jamie Stone, the Gussie Fink Nottle of the Scottish Parliament. Jamie last week announced he would be standing down at the election next year.

The Gordonstoun old boy's musings in the parliament about his student misdemeanours at St Andrews and his ramblings about his ancestors' predilection for destroying old houses have provided an entertaining and PG Wodehouse-ish flavour over the past 11 years that he has served Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. Stone wants to pursue other avenues and suggested to Drumlanrig that a return to the family cheese business beckons.


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Suggestions that the SNP are rebranding their image were doing the rounds after some party literature was found with a new logo – a lovely soft focus Scots Pine suggesting a new evergreen environmentally friendly image.

Perhaps Alex Salmond's party was ditching the Saltire in the wake of Unionist complaints that they had hijacked the Scottish flag for the independence movement?

A close look at the Scots Pine, however, was enough to reveal the Saltire flying proudly behind it. Another cynical explanation for the tree-hugging was put forward by some of the SNP's opponents, who pointed out that the Scots Pine is extinct in England, yet is thriving in Ireland and Norway. Perhaps it was supposed to symbolise Salmond's arc of prosperity of Scotland, Ireland, Norway and Iceland before it disintegrated into the arc of insolvency and came crashing down like timber in the hands of a well-trained lumberjack.


Michael Russell, the education secretary, has recalled the pawky wit of one of his former colleagues, who, like him, lost his seat on the list system thanks to SNP activists determined to hound him out of the parliament. Russell, below, was describing the knee-jerk opposition that the SNP faces from the Labour benches:

"During this afternoon's debate I was very much reminded of the remark from my old friend Andrew Wilson, who said in the first parliamentary session that, if the SNP had invented the light bulb, Labour would have called it a dangerous anti-candle device."


Meanwhile, the Tory MSP, Jamie McGrigor, had his own light bulb moment during a visit to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. As is his wont, Jamie was pondering the rising ocean levels, the melting ice cap, the BP oil leak and the plight of marine life when he discovered that Loch Fyne held the answer for environmental meltdown.

"I was in the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar," he said. "The Gaelic motto of Loch Fyne Oysters is 'Nach urramach an cuan', which means, 'How worthy of honour is the sea'. Surely that philosophy should guide policy makers all over the world, where the oceans are concerned," he reported back to parliament.