FORCED out Bute House by a dodgy ceiling, the First Minister held Christmas drinks for the media in the bunker-like basement on a government office building. However the grim setting didn’t suppress her sense of humour as she speculated on who might follow Kezia Dugdale onto TV. Willie Rennie would do Pointless, she said. Richard Leonard was going to do Who Do You Think You Are? but no one knew who he really was. And Damian Green accidentally signed up for the X Factor. “I say accidentally, he’d actually been googling Television X.”

MS Surgeon was also on the receiving end of a joke from Daily Record Pol Ed David Clegg. After praising Ms Sturgeon’s battle on minimum unit pricing for alcohol, he gave her a present “while he could still afford it”. Ms Sturgeon is now the owner of a 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jack’s cider, cost £4. If there’s any left. Cleggy added the shopkeeper gave him a pitying look when he bought it. “Don’t worry,” he told him. “It’s for the First Minister.”

THE annual Christmas email arrives in Unspun’s inbox from Common Weal. The pro-indy virtue-signallers are having a sale with knock-down stationery and T-shirts bearing their “All of First” logo. If you want to pay £6 for an 80 page note pad, they’re the ones for you. But wait! What’s this? The small print reveals the Yesseratti have a new base - Forsyth House in Glasgow. Any relation to Tory peer Michael Forsyth? You never know. It’s on Union Street.

THE SNP’s Holyrood crew also had their Christmas party last week. We hear it was a very lively, with at least one nightclub asking folk to leave. However the weirdest tale concerned Nicola Sturgeon’s special adviser Ross Ingebrigtsen, who claimed to have been menaced by a fox on Leith Links at 3am. Rattled Ross even took a video of the adorable creature allegedly “circling” him. He has now, inevitably, been nicknamed Scaredy SpAd.

IT’S not just Santa who keeps a list of who’s naughty and nice. When Kezia Dugdale returned to Holyrood from the jungle, her supporters claimed she’d been “gagged” by party bosses. Incensed, Labour MSP Monica Lennon told Twitter it was actually the Dugdale regime that gagged folk, with Kez’s former spindoctor Alan Roden compiling a “banned list” of journalists considered off-limits to simple-minded MSPs. Unspun hears hacks from The Herald and Sunday Herald featured prominently. We've never been prouder.

THE ambitious Ms Lennon also landed a promotion in Richard Leonard’s shadow cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday. The photocall did not go well, however. First, Mr Leonard led his MSPs down the far left side the Holyrood staircase then had to veer back to the centre again. Then the photographers couldn’t see the diminutive Ms Lennon, so urged her to come to the front. “Get out the way, Richard,” she was heard telling her boss. Not for the last time, we suspect.

AMONG the many sleaze allegations that have come and gone in 2017 were very dark ones against SNP councillor Jordan Linden. Protesting his innocence, he recently stepped aside from the North Lanarkshire SNP group pending an internal probe. Or did he? Besides staying employed by Nat MSP Richard Lyle, we hear Mr Linden attended the SNP council group’s Christmas lunch in Motherwell Civic Centre. When you’re in with a local SNP faction dubbed the Monklands McMafia it seems normal ethical rules don’t apply, capiche?