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Scots Labour leader lobs White Paper at Salmond ... and scores direct hit

NOT that she's obsessed, you understand, but Labour's Johann Lamont has a bit of a thing for the independence White Paper, a thing for throwing it at Alex Salmond's head.

Her opening gambit of 2014 was to lob it out of a fog of statistics in the hope the FM didn't have time to duck. It worked.

Why, she asked, did the Rough Guide to Eckistan only compare Scotland's economy to that of small European countries from 1977 to 2007? Why not something more recent?

His senses keenly tuned to the whine of an incoming fact, Mr Salmond looked pale.

Ms Lamont had locked onto a monster.

The FM had left out the Crash.

Before 2008, plucky small nations were held up to show what Scotland could do on its own.

If only we'd had their GDP, we'd all be £900 a skull better off, the FM had swooned. But after the Crash, many of those economies fell like lemmings into a fjord.

If Scotland had mirrored them post-2007, we'd be worse off, ­Holyrood officials now say.

Not that you'd know it from the White Paper, however; the stats boys at ScotGov HQ had left out the crash as it was too "volatile".

Casually sidestepping this bombshell, Mr Salmond talked instead about free school meals.

Ms Lamont glowered until her fringe smoked.

The FM was cherrypicking numbers to boost his case while failing to price his policies, she wailed, and "a shopping list without a price list is just a wish list".

The FM tried to chortle in the face of adversity. "Oh dear," he said weakly.

As per tradition, Tory Ruth Davidson then asked when he would next meet the PM.

"Well not in Scotland by the sound of it," he replied, referring to David Cameron's admission that he's not every Scot's cup of Irn-Bru. "He's too posh and he's too unpopular."

But Ms Davidson was ready: "I thought the Prime Minister showed a self-deprecation that seems wholly foreign to the First Minister. Perhaps he could take note." Even Nicola Sturgeon chuckled. Those stats again in full: Opposition 2, FM 0.

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