WITH conference season approaching, those in need of a laugh should check out Scottish Labour’s sales pitch to would-be exhibitors at its Dundee gathering. “Scottish Labour is on the rise,” Richard Leonard deadpans in the introduction. Amazingly, he follows that zinger with one just as good. “We are a party with a growing membership.” The membership fell 20% last year. One for the Advertising Standards Agency?

THE document also seems at odds with the “for the many, not the few” mantra. The smallest (2m x 1m) stand costs £750 for third sector groups. The smallest space for all others - not including a stand, mind you, just a 2m x2m bit of carpet - costs £2400. Like a new car or Build-a-Bear there are a range of optional upgrades. “If your preferred option is taken, we will contact you to discuss the best alternative,” gushes he blurb. So best book now to avoid the stampede.

TALKING of Mr Leonard, BBC Question Time came from Motherwell in his Central Scotland patch this week. So naturally the Labour panellist was, er, Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East. Why not Mr Leonard? Good question. In the 15 months he’s been Scottish leader, he hasn’t been on the show once. Doubly humiliating for the less spotted Leonard, when QT came to Holyrood recently, it chose his predecessor Kezia Dugdale. Ouch.

THE new BBC Scotland channel held a pilot of its own Question Time-style show this week too. All the politicos took one staffer. All except Tory MSP Jamie Greene, that is. Our mole reports he turned up with three self-important looking gophers in suits, prompting one panelist to refer them as a "very s*** Westlife." Other jokes at the expense of the entourage were met with a profound and stony silence. Can’t wait for the tour, lads.

MORE hilarity from mathemagician James Kelly. Fresh from his budget meltdown, the Labour MSP was dared by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to name a single council getting a funding cut. To quote the Official Report: “JK: The reality is that this is a cuts budget. DM: Would anyone care to name any council? JK: That is what is happening. DM: Any council? Pick a council. JK: That is what is happening on the ground. DM: Any council? JK: I will move on, convener. DM: I bet you will move on.” Gotcha.

LABOUR blueblood Claudia Beamish has had an unwelcome promotion. The Borders MSP is the daughter of Baron Chelwood, aka former Tory MP Tufton Beamish, inspiration for Private Eye’s Sir Bufton Tufton. In a debate on salmon farming, impish Nat Gail Ross elevated her to royalty by referring to “the queen of sea lice herself, Claudia Beamish”. We suspect Queen Claudia will never face any rivals for that particular crown.

SNP megabore Stewart Stevenson also piped up in the debate. “When my brother and I were water bailiffs for the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board in 1968,” Scotland’s most prolific factotum recalled, “we experienced dynamiting, hangnets and sniggering. I arrested someone for sniggering, which is an illegal method of catching fish.” At which the more common form of sniggering overwhelmed the chamber.