Drumlanrig: In terms of the debate, whose line is it anyway?

Alex Salmond’s memorable TV performance – when he answered “yes” when Andrew Neil asked him if he had sought advice from law officers on an independent Scotland’s EU membership – continues to haunt him.

Followers of politics will remember that Salmond argued that after answering in the affirmative the fact he had qualified his response with the phrase “in terms of the debate” meant he had not lied. Somehow the answer “yes... in terms of the debate” was consistent with the true position that no legal advice had been sought.

The “in terms of the debate” qualification has become a catchphrase that Labour and the Tories have become adept at using. Last week Tory MSP Gavin Brown (below) praised the contributions of some of his rivals in a discussion on construction projects. “We have heard some fantastic contributions, I have to say, from the SNP today... in terms of the debate,” Brown said.

John Swinney tried to slap him down, shouting: “That is a Labour line. Labour and the Tories are swapping lines now.”

Swinney’s rejoinder did not work, however. The truth as John Swinney well knows is that it is an Alex Salmond line.


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Macbeth trail leads to warning for Johnstone

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone’s campaign to rehabilitate Macbeth, believing his reputation was unfairly maligned by William Shakespeare, has caused some concern in Angus Council.

Inspired by the revisionism that saw Richard III’s honour restored after his remains were dug up in a Leicester car park, Johnstone wants to launch a Macbeth trail in the north-east.

Such talk led to a council official getting in touch with Johnstone – just in case the MSP’s plans included an attempt to exhume Macbeth.


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“Git yir hauns aff oor car parks,” was the message, according to Johnstone.

Good girl Margo rings the changes

The redoubtable Margo MacDonald has got a new ring tone on her mobile phone – But I am A Good Girl, sung by Christina Aguilera for the film Burlesque.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a good girl,” Margo explained, before adding: “And I’ll cheerfully assault anyone who thinks otherwise.”