THE public gallery and press benches at the Court of Session were understandably packed on Tuesday for the denouement of Alex Salmond’s judicial review against Nicola Sturgeon’s government. Indeed, many hacks were forced to make way for Eck and his lawyers. One reason Court 2 was so busy was the BBC, whose troop of reporters and gophers was in double figures. How long before the cybernats inevitably detect another Unionist conspiracy?

THE shuffling around had one unfortunate consequence for the former FM. His seat was originally occupied by a reporter who had folded up the bench’s writing desk. He was tickled to see Mr Salmond seemed unable to lower it again, and so had to squeeze his ample frame behind it for more than an hour. No wonder he was so grumpy when he finally got out.

TALKING of conspiracy theories, we dread to think what Yesser ultras will make of Nicola Sturgeon’s official Christmas card list. Besides spreading the festive spirit to the usual mix of politicos, business people, and ambassadors, the First Minister sent cards to no less than five top bosses at Beeb. Worse, she sent one to the heart of the UK state, the Director General of MI5. Stand by for a slew of illiterate blogs referencing the Manchurian Candidate.

EQUALLY surprising was the inclusion of a bunch of Christmas grinches. As commuters toiled with Scotland’s lousy train service in December, Ms Sturgeon sent her best wishes to the chair and chief executive of Network Rail, the UK government body she routinely blames for much of the disruption. Lest they feel left out, she also sent cards to the bosses of Abellio Scotland and the ScotRail Alliance, the private firms responsible for the rest of the mess.

SNP Westminster boss Ian Blackford is vexed about about the Brexit-related barracking of MPs outside the Commons. “All of us collectively have a responsibility to make sure that there is no intimidation in our public life,” he tutted at PMQs. Eyebrows rocketed. Wasn’t the Skye MP’s own campaign against Charlie Kennedy described by Sir Menzies Campbell as the most “despicable” he’d ever seen? Ah yes, but that was in pre-Brexit good old days.

WITH SNP leadership speculation cranking up, Derek ‘Del Boy’ Mackay is increasingly tipped as Nicola Sturgeon’s successor. But how sharp is the Finance Secretary? A recent speaking note prepared by civil servants for a knees up he hosted at Bute House is less than reassuring. It included the invaluable warm-up tip: “Summary - Comment on mix of guests - look forward to interesting conversations during dinner.” Then, once everyone had eaten, “Trust all had a good evening and that the conversation was of value.” Inspiring stuff.

POLITICIANS are always banging on about inflicting change on the rest of us, but it seems they’re not always so good at coping with it themselves. The weekly meeting of SNP MSPs has been moved to a new day and room at Holyrood, and now occupies the slot formerly used by the Labour group. After failing to read their emails, several dopey Labour MSPs have apparently walked in on the Nats unawares. Whether they noticed is as yet unclear.