The Sketch: It's déjà vu again for denizen of the deep voice as MSPs plumb the depths

HOLYROOD is the place for prawns. The controversial crustaceans came up in a fisheries debate yesterday. So did scallops and sprats. John Scott, on the Tory front bench, was more concerned with the lack of plankton. I was tempted to shout: "Look behind you!"

Liam McArthur (Lib Dem) was discomfited by a presence behind him. "I do have the feeling of being more of the warm-up act," quoth he. And who was he warming up for? Put your flippers together, ladies and gentlemen, for Ross Finnie, former fisheries minister and Lib Dem legend.

Liam surmised a "comeback" by Ross, though he added: "I don't necessarily want to compare for a moment Ross Finnie to an ageing rock star." Momentarily, we pictured the coot-style former accountant strutting about to Brown Sugar. But his butt just wouldn't waggle and, when he pouted his lips, his lower dentures fell out.

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Roseanna Cunningham (SNP) said the debate was like Groundhog Day. Same thing every year: apocalyptic predictions followed by a late reprieve, then relief all round. "I can't for the life of me see why Scotland's fisheries minister has to still wait on the outside of the negotiations," she added.

Elaine Murray (Lab) hollered: "It is Team UK which is taking this forward, not Team Scotland." Thanks for clarifying that. Of fish she said: "We need to explain how 'small' and 'unavoidable' are to be defined." Someone give her a mirror.

Dishevelled aristo Jamie McGrigor (Con) held forth on the depredations of Spanish fishermen and the fine detail of square mesh nets. However, before he could get us into another fine mesh, the walls suddenly shook, rafters swung madly, and a fissure tore across the floor. Yup, it was the voice from the deep: the aforementioned Finnie took the floor, with his basso profundo rumblings emanating all the way from his sensibly shod feet. "If anybody has a sense of dj vu, it's me," he grumbled, before speaking knowledgeably about nets for cod.

At the end of Ross's codpiece, Dave Thompson (SNP) stood up and announced: "I'm a Lossie loon fae a fishin' toon." I see.

One man's Lossie is another man's gainie, I suppose. He told wee, unavoidable Elaine: "Is this the same Team UK that led us into the credit crunch?" He decried Labour and Liberal "tugging the forelock to Westminster" and then had this bombshell announcement: "Despite the best efforts of the unionist cabal, we still have a fishing industry." However, suspicions that he was a Russian spy were confirmed when he added: "Our cold-stores are full of prawns." Clearly, some kind of code.

Nigel Don (SNP), a dead ringer for Phineas out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, averred: "I was contemplating the other day what it is that governments actually do." Good lord, it's a bit late for all that now, Nige. You're in power, mate. Still, he said he wasn't any kind of philosopher but had just been wondering what administrations can achieve. Well, you've got to pass the long winter nights somehow, I suppose.

So what had he come up with? Well, governments can "smooth the perturbations that come along in life". Perturbation smoothing? That's not government. That's counselling. But what a name for a band: Phileas Freak and the Smooth Perturbations. They could support Ross Finnie and the Accrued Liabilities.

Confirming our worst suspicions, Nigel added: "This is the first time I have taken part in an annual fisheries debate." By the time he got on to the "oscillations" of nature, we were all waiting for security to intervene. Nigel is a gentle, reasonable man. But he has a problem: he's a thinker. And we don't hold with that sort of thing at Holyrood.

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Thoughtlessly, then, we come to Helen Eadie (Lab). Imagine, if you would, a small peanut. Cut it in half and then in half again. Take the small remaining segment and grind it into a fine dust. Using a microscope and the finest laboratory tweezers, pick up a single speck of that dust. See that speck? That's how much Helen knows about fishing.

She stumbled over her prepared speech like a haddock walking a tightrope. My despair deepened when, in an important contribution, Nanette Milne (Con) announced: "I won't be making a decision at this time." Rhoda Grant (Lab) succeeded her, prompting suicidal thoughts in your scribe ("He seemed quite happy before he went into parliament, witnesses said yesterday"). She plumbed the intellectual depths when she quoted Helen. It was like Coleen McLoughlin quoting Victoria Beckham. Without the fashion sense.

I thought Jim Hume (Lib Dem) had been suffering like me, as he had vomit down his shirt. However, this turned out to be his tie. I don't recall what he said. By this time, I was gasping for air and had to escape.