Drumlanrig: Johann Lamont | Shetland independence

IN HER speech to the Scottish Labour conference recently, leader Johann Lamont issued a “challenge” to Alex Salmond to “meet me next week and to bring his budget” so they could discuss ways to boost childcare.

Johann Lamont. Picture: Johann Lamont

“We have worked up proposals. I am sure he has, too.” Things haven’t exactly gone speedily since, says our St Andrew’s House source. First, Salmond wrote to Lamont to say, fine, I’m up for it. Now Johann has written back and asked him to give her a time for a meeting to “set out the parameters” for a series of meetings after that. So now it’s Salmond’s turn to reply to her reply. Will these two get it together? Do not, as they say, hold your breath.

Shetlanders cling to historic grudges

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The possibility of Shetland’s independence was raised again at an academic conference on the Big Choice in Edinburgh last week. Voluble economics professor Phillip Sinclair of Birmingham University noted that the island’s antipathy to Edinburgh rule runs deep.

“They do not relish the memory of the appalling Stuart bastards, Black Patrick and his father Robert, that Edinburgh imposed upon them” in the 16th century. How many historical sores are going to be opened up over the next 18 months? We shudder at the prospect.

What happens in the bar stays in the bar?

Reports that junior justice minister Roseanna Cunningham called two Conservative MSPs “evil Tories” while they were having a drink in the Holyrood Bar have had a mixed reaction. At one end of the scale, there was a call for her resignation, at the other end amused bemusement. Despite a gracious apology delivered by the SNP chief whip Joe Fitzpatrick, one of the Tories, Mary Scanlon, was disappointed not to have had a personal apology from Cunningham. Blogger Jeff Breslin remarked: “If everyone who said bad things about the Tories after a few drinks had to resign, Scottish unemployment would be at record levels.” Perhaps the wisest comment came from the second “evil Tory”, Alex Fergusson. The former presiding officer said: “What happens in the bar stays private.” Sighs of relief all round.

Goldie never lost for words – in any language

Annabel Goldie may no longer be Tory leader, but the wit that made her appearances at First Minister’s Questions a bit of parliamentary box office is undiminished. Take, for example, the following extract from a debate on the education of youngsters last week.

Goldie’s contribution was: “To ask the government what progress is being made in the teaching provision of modern languages in primary schools, s’il vous plait?”