WELCOME to Unspun, The Herald's new political diary. It goes without saying the main topic of speculation at Holyrood is The Herald's Scottish Politician of the Year Awards. Now the shortlist has been unveiled, the guessing game is on.
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie welcomed the nomination of the Equality Network for its role campaigning for same-sex marriage. But he was slightly rueful over his own lack of recognition this year. "I was One to Watch once, you know," he told us.
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50 shades of Jack
ALEX Salmond is now the longest-serving First Minister, but what of the man he overtook?
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale may be a visiting professor at Dubrovnik International University these days, but beneath the ermine duffle coat, the old Jack is alive and well and gorging on some sado-masochistic erotica.
"Halfway through the final book in the 50 Shades trilogy," he panted on Facebook last week.
"How many Facebook friends have read it?"
As he was in Malawi at the time, we can only assume the latest Hansard was unavailable.
It wasn't all whips and chains, though. Jack was also in Africa to help to promote a favourite charity. Its name? Er, Pump Aid.
THE Justice Secretary is accustomed to a good reception at police conferences. He even got an ovation from the English police.
Now it's the turn of prison officers to gladden Kenny MacAskill's heart. At their recent conference in Peebles they debated the motion that "prison officers are better together in the UK." One delegate voted in favour and 94 against.
Meanwhile, MacAskill, hero of the SNP's Nato debate, has a new bag-carrier. His parliamentary liaison officer used to be Nato-hating ex-cop John Finnie. Now it's Nato-hating maverick Sandra White. Under the ministerial code, MacAskill becomes responsible for Sandra's actions and utterances. Good luck policing that.
LIKE the sulphurous after-whiff of fireworks night, a faint pong of reshuffle is hanging in the Holyrood air. Ruth Davidson this week celebrated a year as Scots Tory leader, and Johann Lamont's anniversary as Scottish Labour chief is coming up next month.
That's roughly the time when new leaders see fit to re-examine post-victory front-bench teams made up of those who campaigned for them (rewards) and those who fought against them (show of unity). The feeling is both will unveil new teams in the New Year.
SINCE the revelation that Highlands MSP and Nato-rebel Jean Urquhart was once a Bunny Girl, there's been a scramble to find photographic evidence, so far in vain. Jean now lives a more ascetic life, admitting at a culture committee investigation on broadcasting she does not own a telly.