RICHARD Leonard gave a talk to the David Hume Institute about Brexit this week, but failed to draw the recents crowds enjoyed by Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon. Still, at least he had one fan. Introducing the Yorkshireman, DHI director Jane-Frances Kelly drooled over his “fantastic” accent, insisting it was a “pleasure to hear something different”. Ee bah gum!

ROSS Ingebrigtsen, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s special advisers, has been informing Unspun of his latest political theory. A Neighbours obsessive, he’s spotted a parallel between one of the Aussie soap’s favourite characters and invisible former Labour deputy Alex Rowley. “He’s the Harold Bishop of the Scottish Parliament,” he confides, explaining Harold also spent years in the wilderness when everyone thought he was dead. Spooky, huh? Er, ok, Ross, thanks for that. He’s in charge of “strategic communications planning”, you know.

HOW times fly in the doolally world of Scottish policing. The exit of top cop Phil Gormley reminds Unspun of these warm words barely two years ago. “I'm confident that under Phil’s leadership the organisation will continue to develop positively in months and years ahead,” cooed a Government press release. “I look forward to working with Mr Gormley.” Let’s hope the speaker, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, isn’t as keen on helping the next poor sap.

IT’S animal wars on the SNP corridor, as Ruth Maguire and Gail Ross slug it out in the battle of the species champions. Both are in the Scottish Environment Link scheme where MSPs sponsor bits of flora and fauna. Two new studies this week showed Ms Ross’s red squirrels were on the up, while Ms Maguire’s hedgehogs were on the skids. Ms Maguire’s woeful wildlife wrangling is particularly surprising,as her dad is the Green MSP John Finnie.

HOW to protect election candidates from abuse came up at FMQs, where abuse is, er, the reward for election. The SNP’s John Mason said there must be a balance struck between protecting folk and freedom of speech. “We must be prepared to take a certain amount of insults. I have certainly had a few insults along the way,” he recalled. At which fellow Nat Christine Grahame asked gleefully: “Would you like one now?” He passed.

MORE trouble with sums for Derek Mackay. The Finance Secretary has already been forced to rewrite the council settlement after a counting error. Now he’s slipped out a correction to Holyrood’s official report. Last month he boasted that “as a consequence of our decisions” South Ayrshire was getting “an extra £9.4m”. This has now become “an extra £3.4m”. Still, what’s a mere 64 per cent difference between friends.

BACKFIRE of the week belongs to Labour MSP Neil Bibby, who has been working on a new Bill giving “tied” pubs more choice over which pints they sell. To celebrate it receiving enough cross-party support to advance to the next stage at Holyrood, he rattled round the press tower handing out bottles of "protect our pubs" beer. Alas, the thirsty hacks were so busy enjoying it most neglected to file stories on the development.