SERIAL animal botherer Willie Rennie has been up to his old tricks again. After turning on a pair of pigs, boxing a sheep and being upstaged by a llama in previous photo ops, the Scottish LibDem leader asked to pose with the UK’s first polar bear cub in 25 years. The excuse was making a point about climate change. However the Highland Wildlife Park said its prize cub was apolitical and it was a No. We suggest Willie tries to wrestle with junior’s mum instead.

THE socialist revolution seems to have bypassed Scottish Labour spin doctor Andrew Liddle. Unspun hears that, like any good comrade, he treated himself to a full lobster at the boutique White Horse seafood bar on the Royal Mile this week - twice in one day. Troughing for the many, not the few. What would Jeremy say? Luckily, ‘Two Lobsters’ Liddle appears to be keeping his options open. Next month he publishes a biography of Tory boss Ruth Davidson.

WHILE we’re on the subject of food, MSPs and staffers queued up for burgers and hotdogs at a Holyrood BBQ to mark the first sunny day of the year this week. But while most folk chowed down on Buccleuch estate beef, incurable LibDem Willie Rennie made do with salad. He also told hacks he's looking forward to a good long run during the party's conference in Aviemore this weekend. Someone, get the man a pint, for God's sake.

TALKING of which, one conference speaker yesterday praised the ability of MSP Liam McArthur to secure good press coverage for policing issues. He then added hastily it wasn’t just Liam, Alex Cole-Hamilton often appeared in the papers too. At which Mr Cole-Hamilton, who made headlines for a year with a police probe into his Holyrood election expenses, shouted ruefully from the audience: “Not for the right reasons!”

HEARTFELT speeches abounded as LibDemmers discussed puppy farming. But why hadn't thought of the cats? An amendment to the motion was quickly lodged replacing "puppy" with "pet", and "dog" with "cat or dog". "Thank you for that wonderfully earnest speech," the chair dryly noted after one particularly impassioned contribution, during which we were informed that animals are "living beings". Who knew?

NICOLA Sturgeon’s grilling by Holyrood’s committee conveners threw up its usual rag-bag of odd moments. For some reason, sea lice invariably feature in the round table quiz, and this week did not disappoint. But even weirder was Tory MSP Graham Simpson, chair of the delegated powers committee, revealing that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had “become a bit of a pen friend to me”. Apparently they share a mutual fascination with council tax. Awww.

MR Simpson also heap praised on minister for parliamentary business Joe FitzPatrick for his recent flawless secondary legislation. He had even written a letter to him about it. Before the adulation could go to his head, the FM replied: “I’m sure Joe FitzPatrick will be delighted. It doesn’t mean he’s asking for a promotion. I should put on the public record he’s not getting one at this stage - at this stage, I don’t want to take all hope away from him.” Ouch.

Tory MP Dominic Grieve has updated his Commons register of members. The former Attorney General declared a recent visit to Ireland, twice claiming he was a guest of the “Centre for Cross Boarder Studies”. This may be related to a similar sounding think tank about border studies. However, when it comes to posh Tory MPs, it might equally be a think tank about unhappy Etonians having to live away from mater and pater.