WEIRDEST metaphor of the week came from Derek Mackay in Thursday’s budget debate. After LibDem Willie Rennie joked about him having a Catalan flag on his flagpole, the Finance Secretary replied: “He wants me to show him my flagpole. I do not have a flagpole; I have a patio. I will show him the patio, because it is on that that I stand: the budget is about firm foundations.” Adding to the consternation, Mr Mackay then added: “I might reflect on the language that I used in relation to Willie Rennie. It is a very interesting offer.” If you say so...

IT’S not just a red hot patio Mr Mackay boasts. He recently bought a modern two-story detached £400k home in Renfrewshire. The sales blurb describes its five spacious bedrooms (three ensuite and walk-in wardrobe in the master), plus an integral double garage. Nothing’s too good for the working man. There’s even a “library/study”, where the Finance Secretary can finally catch up on the Laffer Curve, and other mysteries of economics.

FELLOW Nat Colin Beattie is houseproud too. He was spotted in the budget debate browsing kitchen brochures. He also welcomed a primary class to Holyrood this week. Our mole’s 9-year-old reports that when he was asked why there were more male MSPs than female, the Midlothian MSP told them: “Women need more time to look after kids.” In fact, he was so busy, “I have a photograph of my wife to remind me what she looks like”. What a role model.

BACKSCRATCHER of the week was Liam McArthur. The Orkney MSP tabled a saccharine parliamentary motion congratulating NFU Scotland’s two new policy advisers for the Northern Isles. It hailed the pair as “ideal candidates... having been brought up on farms in Orkney and Shetland” and urged all Holyrood to wish them well. The Shetland adviser he namedropped is one Lorna Scott. She just happens to be the daughter of the local MSP, Liam’s fellow LibDem Tavish Scott. Small world up there.

MR Rennie was meant to address today’s LibDem conference in Hamilton in the prime mid-afternoon slot. However work on new Scottish digital channel means our BBC2, which he would normally grace, is off air. So he’s been shunted elsewhere and brought forward to midday - to avoid a clash with the France v Scotland rugby match. Quel dommage.

ANOTHER week, another conspiracy in Yes-land. While others reeled as Labour and Tory MPs quit to join The Independent Group, SNP MP Joanna Cherry smelled a plot. “I have a sense of where this is all going,” she tweeted at suggestions the TIGs and LibDems might align. It wa all a dastardly plot to outnumber SNP MPs and steal their publicity and offices! “This may hasten the need for us to consider our role at Westminster,” she huffed.

MS Cherry, who shed no tears when the SNP outnumbered the LibDems in 2015, also railed at an SNP-free TV debate about TIGs. “Where is the balance? I know it’s a dreadful bore to the metropolitan elite but we are still the 3rd party,” she howled. Not that an Edinburgh QC who went to an all-girl private school could ever be counted among the metropolitan elite.