Drumlanrig: Sir Harry shows us how to rise to the challenge

Dr Harry Burns
Dr Harry Burns
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Scotland’s health service appears to be in good hands. Dr Harry Burns, the Chief Medical Officer, was one of the Glasgow University alumni who found his way on to a special showing of University Challenge over the Christmas period.

Sir Henry, to give him his other title, proceeded to wipe the floor with his fellow contestants, exhibiting a range of knowledge well outside medicine. With all that know how at his disposal, does a career in frontline politics not beckon his way?

A man of independent means already?

Alex Salmond has opened up diplomatic relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Drumlanrig can reveal. Released under Freedom of Information legislation last week, a letter from 2011 shows that the First Minister asked for a meeting with Merkel to discuss energy policy, after she had decided to ditch nuclear power stations in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

It concludes: “I would very much like to meet with you and your ministers to discuss how we can develop closer energy links between our Governments, and to consider how we can best work together to realise the opportunities that renewable energy presents us with.” The indy referendum may still be a year and nine months away. And, if the country votes yes, independence itself is still at least four years off. But that hasn’t stopped Salmond from acting independently already, it appears.

No grey areas with Brown it seems

Gordon Brown may be seen as having had a troubled time as Prime Minister, but at least he didn’t lie. So claims his former spin doctor Damian McBride, who used a column last week to reminisce on 2006 when all the talk was of a Brown-ite “coup” to topple Tony Blair. A journalist asked McBride if chief plotter Tom Watson MP had visited Brown at his house in North Queensferry. It just so happened that he had. But with no proof existing, so McBride pondered “to my shame” whether they could deny it. “Gordon replied instantly: ‘Never do that. It’s the lie that kills you’.”

A warming toast to Winter Fuel Allowance

Brown’s time in office was also being recalled last week after a call was made by a leading think-tank to means test the Winter Fuel Allowance – the annual cheque to pensioners to help with their heating bills, and a brainchild of the former premier. When the cheques first dropped through the post, one well-connected and senior journalist in Scotland got Brown on the phone. “Just to say thank you for the case of wine,” he declared. Well, a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is fuel or a sort.