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Panto time as leaders fail to show festive spirit

THE Christmas Spirit, that beloved seasonal breakdown in workplace discipline, bathed Holyrood's tinsel-decked halls yesterday.

Warming up before the bar opened, MSPs brought a rowdy mood to FMQs, forcing Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick to act the scolding Scrooge, a role her fag-wracked vocal chords were made for.

The first hint of disorder came as Labour's Johann Lamont pressed Alex Salmond on why primary classes were getting bigger, when his cast-iron 2007 pledge was to shrink them.

The FM was fearless in laying blame elsewhere - the recession, austerity, Glasgow City Council, the Mayan Prophecies, you name it.

"So in summary, 'It wisnae me'," said Lamont.

Making a Dickens novel out of every question, she claimed Mr Salmond's MO was to promise the earth to win votes, burden someone else with the delivery, starve them of cash, and then blame them for the inevitable failure.

"And here's the question..."

It was too much for impatient SNP backbenchers, who broke into a wave of ironic cheering.

"Order!" snapped Ebenezer Marwick.

"The children are obviously not away to the pantomime today," sighed Ms Lamont.

Breaking with tradition, Tory Ruth Davidson then had a good moment, pressing Mr Salmond on independence and membership of the EU.

He had misled the public not once, not twice, but three times on the issue, she claimed.

"He is the Pinocchio of Scottish politics!"

Ms Marwick was incensed.

Everyone knows MSPs are muppets, not puppets.

"Ms Davidson, sit down!" she barked. "I don't consider that language appropriate."

With the soundbite safely on record, Ms Davidson merrily apologised without a hint of sincerity.

Mr Salmond was then so effusive in his rebuttal, Ms Marwick had to cut him short.

"First Minister, when I address you directly I would appreciate if you would resume your seat," she nipped him as he waffled on.

She ended with a complaint to the party leaders for consuming 27 of the 30 minutes.

"Quite frankly, I consider it unacceptable and I'm no putting up wi' it in the future."

As it is her job to keep order, it is clearly not just the FM who can pass the buck.

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Local government

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