Good morning and welcome to The Midge, your first bite of the day’s politics in Scotland and elsewhere. 


HeraldScotland: JOHN SWINNEY: Seeking votes to get plans through Holyrood



  • Councils round on Swinney (above) over tax freeze
  • Health a winner while arts budgets suffer
  • Crunch EU summit begins in Brussels 
  • Ex-PM says Brexit could mean indy for Scotland
  • Forth Road Bridge inquiry set for January 
  • Lords veto to be scrapped

06.00 BBC Radio Four Today headlines

EU leaders meet for last summit of 2015 … 90% of cancers due to lifestyle choices … Lords power to be curbed … One in eight children born into conflict zones, Unicef says … Shares in Far East soar after Fed rate rise … DUP to name Arlene Foster as leader. 

07.00 BBC Good Morning Scotland headlines

No rise in income tax and council tax … Holyrood to ban smoking in cars carrying children … Teachers back industrial action over workload … Daily avalanche reports begin. 

The front pages


The Scottish Government’s ninth council tax freeze has set it on a collision course with councils who are threatening to increase bills regardless, reports The Herald. Cosla president David O’Neill claims the SNP move will cost 15,000 jobs. Inside, Michael Settle takes a look at today’s EU summit, with former PM John Major saying Brexit would mean “a high probability that Scotland would have another referendum and leave the UK”. 

The National spotlights the continuing stushie between Donald Trump and Alex Salmond. The former FM has called the Republican presidential hopeful a loser; he has called Mr Salmond a has-been. 


Rebecca Gray’s exclusive in the Evening Times reports that a laser pen was shone into an aircraft cockpit as a plane landed at Glasgow Airport.

The Scottish Daily Mail declares John Swinney’s efforts to be “a Tartan Tory budget” that shied away from an income tax rise, but warns of tax hikes for the middle class on the way. 

The Scotsman reports that an MSPs’ inquiry into the FRB closure will report in March, three months after the bridge is scheduled to reopen but a month before Holyrood elections. 

A knife attack on an 81-year-old grandfather in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, makes the front pages of the Sun and the Record, with the latter also highlighting the hunt for a gang who abducted a man in Yorkshire before dumping him, seriously injured, in East Kilbride.

The Times highlights a study which says nine out of ten cancers are caused by lifestyle choices.

Banned and dangerous weapons, including a stun gun disguised as a torch, are on sale on Amazon, a Guardian investigation has found. Amazon said its sellers must follow guidelines and any which do not will be subject to action. 

The Telegraph pictures daffodils on their way from Cornwall to supermarkets in time for Christmas. The mild weather has brought highest December temperatures for 50 years.

The FT leads on the US quarter point interest rate rise, saying it is a historic gamble for Fed chair Janet Yellen. 

Camley's cartoon


Camley taps into the post-Budget spirit of Christmas 

Need to know

David Cameron arrives in Brussels this afternoon seeking progress on renegotiating Britain’s deal with the EU, but he will find minds otherwise occupied. Progress has been made in three out of four of his demands, but these - increasing competitiveness, a “no” on ever closer union, etc - are the easy ones. Proving far more difficult to achieve is restricting access to welfare payments for migrants. Regardless of British desires, the summit’s main talking point will be what to do about migration, with plans for an EU border force to seal frontiers and manage refugees to the fore. 

The diary

  • Glasgow: City Council to unveil £8.5 million housing project. 
  • Holyrood: First Minister's Questions; vote on law to ban smoking in cars carrying children.
  • New York: Chancellor George Osborne at UN finance ministers' summit on tackling terrorist financing. 
  • Brussels: Two-day European Council summit begins.
  • Moscow: President Putin’s annual meet the press session. 

Talk of the steamie: the comment sections

Iain Macwhirter in The Herald takes a look at the Scottish Budgetand finds both the SNP Government and Labour heading into next May’s elections as fiscal conservatives. John McLellan wonders why Scotland is still without a major film studio.

In the FT, billionaire philanthropist George Soros says Britain is better in the EU than out.

Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond write in the Telegraph about a meeting of finance ministers in New York today to halt the flow of funds to terrorists. 

In the Guardian, Simon Jenkins reckons Britain’s much-hyped venture into space is just political vanity. 

David Aaronovitch in the Times argues there is a lot that can be learned from Tony Blair on the Middle East. 

Afore ye go

HeraldScotland: William McIlvanney Scottish Crime Writer and poet photographed in Glasgow city centre on the eve of the reissue of his novels fron the 1970's..28/03/13.Pictures Kirsty Anderson Herald & Times. (48542442)

"He was like Clarke Gable and Pierce Brosnan all stuck into one, and I don't think he was aware of it.”

Actor Tony Roper after the Glasgow University service for William McIlvanney (above). A memorial service will take place next April. 

HeraldScotland: GrooveNeo iPod alarm clock

"It does mean that at 2.58-and-a-half that alarm will no longer go off to get me up and it will also mean that you will have a tidier desk, John.”

Jim Naughtie (below) bows out of BBC Today after 21 years. 

HeraldScotland: Today presenter James Naughtie admitted he had been 'a bit sloppy'

"Bravo Jim. You conducted my most memorable interview ever, albeit not because of determined dissection of govt policy …"

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose name Naughtie infamously muxed ip, pays tribute on Twitter. 

HeraldScotland: HAVE YOUR SAY: Theresa May - Police killers should face whole life sentences

"You are not some Nigel Farage tribute act, you are the Home Secretary.”

Labour MP Chuka Umunna takes Theresa May (above) to task over her Tory Party conference speech during a Home Affairs Committee hearing

HeraldScotland: The odds of Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next Labour leader have been cut amid positive private polling for the Islington North MP

"Jeremy Corbyn (above) is nowt but a learner in the tribulations of leadership.”

Sir Bernard Ingham, ex-press secretary to Mrs Thatcher

HeraldScotland: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with David Miliband in Washington

“So far the winner of most of the Republican debates has been ... Hillary Clinton (above).”

The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon


HeraldScotland: IN WITH A SHOT: Donald Trump“A golf course owned by Donald Trump is no longer being considered to host a major golf tournament due to remarks that Trump has made about Mexicans and Muslims. You know there’s a problem when your views on race are too extreme for a private golf club.”

Conan O’Brien on the chances of Trump Turnberry hosting the Open


HeraldScotland: The Krankies

“As someone whose childhood was blighted by the Krankies, the news that their creator is still working – when fine thespians such as Russ Abbot and the Chuckle Brothers are consistently passed over by the academy – is a travesty.”

Helen Lewis wades into the Krankie/“yellowface” row sparked by the new Absolutely Fabulous movie. The Guardian

HeraldScotland: obama.jpg

“I think it’s fair to say I’m not in as good shape as you.”

President Obama, a smoker, to Bear Grylls, Running Wild, Channel 4, this Sunday


HeraldScotland: Better days: Dillon the catBarsik the cat

An 18-month-old Scottish Fold (as not pictured above) is leading the race to become mayor of Barnual, Siberia. One supporter said: “By Barsik's eyes I see he is concerned about the people.” Another said: "What the cat could steal at most is Whiskas.” CNN


The Midge finishes tomorrow for the festive break, returning on Monday, January 4. If you have any comments or suggestions about the bulletin so far, please email


See you tomorrow.