THE row over Facebook and data gathering reminds Unspun of the SNP’s National Survey. Launched by Nicola Sturgeon in 2016, it asked 2m people their attitudes to independence, Brexit, Scottishness, plus a bunch of personal details. “That data is going to be incredibly valuable to driving their campaign,” gushed one expert at the time. Who? Only Alexander Nix, the now suspended chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

MR Nix burbled on: “If they have that much data they can begin to break down that homogeneous mass of voters into individual constituents or groups of constituents and that’s going to allow them to be much more targeted in the way they communicate.” Conspiracy theorists please note: Mr Nix and Trump favs Cambridge Analytica weren’t involved in the SNP survey, they just really, really admired it. So obviously it wasn’t creepy at all.

Tom Gordon: SNP stands to benefit long-term from Brexit Bill fallout

TALKING of data, the Electoral Commission issued the final invoices from the 2017 general election. They included spending from before the election was called, which parties never expected to be public. The bills reveal someone in the SNP really digs Lexus hybrid saloons for party business. Some £2500 went on chauffeur services between December 2016 and the 2017 council elections. Membership fees well spent, no doubt.

ALSO helping to pay those vital chauffeur bills is June’s SNP conference in Aberdeen, through a mind-boggling menu of sponsorship options. These are touted as a “valuable opportunity to reach many of Scotland's senior politicians, business leaders, diplomats and media”. Rubes can splurge thousands to get their name on the creche, cafe, exhibition hall, business lunch, or council reception. Funnily enough the costliest item is a £12,000 +VAT deal to sponsor the data-rich “Conference App”. Cambridge Analytica would surely be proud.

Tom Gordon: SNP stands to benefit long-term from Brexit Bill fallout

WHILE we’re on the subject of unsavoury things and Facebook, Berwickshire Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton had a few curious hobbies on an old account. The only movie she liked was a 135 min documentary about steak. While the groups she was in included “Pheasant Feather Art” and “Dog Pooh in Borders Villages”. Ah, country life.

DRUNKEN plans have been hatched in Holyrood’s bar for a Scottish political version of Come Dine With Me. Inspired by Channel 4’s celebrity specials - which also feature a bunch of vaguely recognisable gasbags bigging up their cooking skills - MSPs have settled on the parliament canteen as a venue. One party’s health spokesperson said they’d already decided on their menu: chip butties with a ten pack of fags on the side.

AS we reported last week, perpetual Tory candidate Iain ‘Mad Dog’ McGill has finally made it into Holyrood after umpteen failed bids. At any rate, he’s the star of a photographic exhibition about his efforts in Edinburgh North & Leith in 2016. To those who thought we were unfair to him, we offer the blurb from the accompanying book. “This photo-documentary gives an insight into the personal challenge of being a ‘no-hope’ candidate,” it says. Ouch.

Tom Gordon: SNP stands to benefit long-term from Brexit Bill fallout

SOME choice civil service gobbledygook in an FoI release this week. Before a meeting about the Scottish National Investment Bank, one official was in a flap about their facts. After narrowing their queries down to a “niche selection”, they asked if others could “sense-check these to ensure they represent our collective understanding”. Translation: please spread the blame on this.