Boak Off
UNSPUN bids farewell this week to Matthew Clark, legendary chief of staff to the LibDem group at Holyrood, who is retiring to spend more time in the real world. His leaving do saw lots of fond anecdotes, like the time his love of cooking gave the parliament the dry heaves. After he urged Willie Rennie to liken Jackson Carlaw to a baked Alaska, the Tory leader told MSPs: “He was very unkind to me over the weekend. He said I’m fluffy on the outside and cold as ice on the inside. I was disappointed because we all know that little Willie’s own sponge hasn’t risen for quite some time.” Urggh. 

You say dictator...
ANOTHER memorable misfire was during a 2007 row about Alex Salmond writing to world leaders about nuclear weapons. Matthew had his then leader Nicol Stephen read out an imagined version of what the FM wrote to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, including “Dear Robert” and the chummy sign-off “All the best, Alex.” Alas, the joke was taken literally by one Labour MSP who lodged an irate motion censuring Mr Salmond for the invented quotes. It was even signed by a LibDem. 

Key hoard warrior
MATTHEW’S passion for hoarding was also recalled. He boasts he never deletes an email or document, just in case. It’s not always or the best. In the early years days of devolution, as a special adviser to deputy FM Jim Wallace, it led to him being summons to the IT department, who told him he was responsible for 10% of the Government’s entire data storage. In his leaving speech, Matthew said he’d worked for 27 MSPs, and liked 25. How we’d like to see his data storage on the other two.


Matthew Clark with unconvincing moustache (L) and unknown reprobate 

EK does it
CONTINUING our look at maiden speeches, Nat Màiri McAllan embraced the old cliché in hers and declared her Clydesdale seat “the most beautiful in Scotland”, running “from Elvanfoot in the south to East Kilbride in the north”. Beautiful East Kilbride? The map shows it doesn’t actually include Polo Mint City, but stops just outside it. Which would probably make anything more beautiful.

Cash register
IT’S not just speeches the rookies are doing. They’re also filing their first MSP registers of interests. Thus we learn the SNP’s Elena Witham is in the 16th Ayrshire Scout Group and Tory Tess White the Scottish Japanese Karate Association. SNP big beast Angus Robertson has also just written a history of Vienna, with the publisher’s blurb touting him as a “public diplomacy consultant”. He’ll like that. While Labour left-winger Carol Mochan turns out to be a member of the landlord class, owning three hooses in East Ayrshire which bring in up to £20,000 rent a year. Evidently being secretary of the Campaign for Socialism is no barrier to the buy-to-let market. 
Michellethy profit
However Ms Mochan is an amateur rentier compared to some.  Unspun suggests she picks up some tips across the aisle from Michelle Thomson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk East, who has declared ownership of six houses and flats scattered around the country which are valued at almost £1m combined and bring in up to £30,000 a year in rent. She also gets up to £15k a year for spending a whole hour per month on her one-woman property investment company, and owns 60% of another property company, Senza Rit Ltd, named after the musical term meaning “without slowing down”. Rather like the property empires of our humble representatives.