Drumlanrig: Miliband Dewar|Scots Balls|Federalism

ED MILIBAND was reminiscing about the late Donald Dewar when he was entertained by the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association at a lunch at the Holyrood hotel last week.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar. Picture: TSPL
Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar. Picture: TSPL
Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar. Picture: TSPL

The Labour leader remembered coming north of the Border as a young party researcher for the 1997 General Election. Part of his duties was a trip out on the stump with Dewar (below), who a few years later would find himself installed as Scotland’s first First Minister.

Dewar, recalled Miliband, was attempting to charm voters. He approached a mother with her daughter. Dewar bent down and asked the little girl what her name was. “Kylie,” came the reply (the Aussie soap Neighbours was in vogue at the time). “What a preposterous name,” was the Dewar response. It was, said Miliband, an example of Donald’s “unspinable” nature.

Ed Balls on song as he tunes in to Scots passion

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Ed Balls was another Labour big name to make his way to Scotland last week. Ed’s “lovebombing” of Scotland included the revelation that he supported the Scottish football team throughout the 1970s.

One reason was that Scotland was the only British team to make it to the World Cup. The other reason was that Balls felt that Andy Cameron’s We’re on the march wi’ Ally’s Army ditty written for Argentina 1978 was the best football song ever.

Balls’s remarks led to him leading an impromptu version of the song outside a cafe on Leith Walk. His rendition included the lines: “And we’ll really shake them up when we win the World Cup, ’coz Scotland are the greatest football team”.

He didn’t, however, quite make it to the bit which goes: “We’re representing Britain, And we’re gaunne do or die, England cannae dae it, ’coz they didnae qualify!”

English nationalists put kybosh on more federalism

Murdo Fraser’s call for a more federal Britain was met with some hostility from one corner of England – the English Democrats, the political party fighting for English independence.

The party, which has registered as an official campaigner for a Yes vote in Scotland in the hope that it will bring about an independent England, were irritated by Fraser’s speech arguing that federalism, giving more power to English cities and regions, could unite unionists and nationalists. Not much hope of that if English Democrats chairman Robin Tilbrook’s reaction was anything to go by. “We don’t want Scottish politicians telling the English that England should be broken up. My message to any such Scottish politicians is keep your nose out of English business,” said Tilbrook.

Like father like son when it comes to robust approach

The genial Conservative MSP and entertaining lunching companion Cameron Buchanan has revealed that he has an impressive sporting pedigree. His father, a Herioter, was capped for Scotland at rugby before the war. The MSP himself was a keen player – although at a less exalted level. Buchanan junior turned out for Lismore, an Edinburgh club who play hard on the field and socialise hard off it too.