Drumlanrig: John Swinney | Stevenson | Jim Murphy

A grey squirrel. Picture: Rob MacDougall
A grey squirrel. Picture: Rob MacDougall
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SWINNEY bowled out on cost of new Scotland

A delegation of chartered accountants in the Holyrood members’ bar last week were astonished to see the First Minister.

Alex Salmond made a very rare appearance, joining members of his private staff who were winding down after a fraught day that had seen a major stushi erupt over the Scottish Government’s failure to work out how much starting a new Scottish state would cost. Despite that, Salmond was in ebullient form and was soon discussing English cricket. He revealed his father’s favourite cricketer was Ken Barrington, a batsman whose doughty blocking made him a superb, defensive opener – although not the most exciting stroke-maker.

Barrington’s style has clearly rubbed off on Salmond’s colleagues. On Radio Scotland that morning John Swinney had stonewalled 13 questions asking him how much creating a new Scotland would cost.

Stevenson stands tall in grey squirrel corner

HOLYROOD’S great pontificater, Stewart Stevenson, was last week lecturing his colleagues on Scotland’s invasive species. After some discussion amongst himself, which concluded it was the Romans who brought the brown hare to these shores, he mused that he wished “they hadnae” introduced rabbits, because they were chewing up his garden. His contribution to a debate commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, also contained the revelation that his love of animals extends to those pests – the grey squirrels, which are taking over woodlands at the expense of the native reds.

“I worry about some of the squirrels,” said “Nutkin” Stevenson. “I was driving up a country road last year and a grey squirrel was in the middle of the road. It would not move and I had to stop and wait for it to get off the road.”

Drumlanrig feels he should have done his bit for Scotland’s red squirrels and kept driving.

Staying together falls far short of playing together

AS HIS title suggests, Lord Livingston of Parkhead is a keen sports fan. The UK government trade and investment minister was in Glasgow last week talking up the benefits of Scotland staying in the UK. The former chief executive of BT, who also happens to be a non-executive director of Celtic FC, could not, however, disguise his love of the sporting rivalries within the UK.

For a moment, he turned his attention from the round ball to the oval one, when asked about BT’s sponsorship deal of Murrayfield.

“I hope to see many victories over England there. Hopefully BT will make that part of the sponsorship,” was all he would say.

Straight from the horse’s mouth... or foot

AN UNFORTUNATE incident occurred at the launch of STV’s services for Edinburgh and Glasgow when the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Jim Murphy was assaulted by a horse. Well, a horse stood on his foot. To add to Murphy’s embarrassment, the incident was related with some glee to MSPs by his Labour colleague Ken Macintosh.

“For those who were not there, the event included a large and very heavy horse that was intended to look like the iconic statue of the Duke of Wellington outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, complete with parking cone on head.

“The reason why I know that the horse was large and heavy was that it stood on Jim’s foot and would not budge,” said Macintosh.