Letters salad

NICOLA Sturgeon’s biannual quiz by committee conveners produced it’s usual weirdness, thanks to Uber convener Christine Grahame. Reading her notes, she started by announcing Joan McAlpine “from the - what’s that?” Her clerk whispered the answer. “She’s got it all abbreviated,” Ms G huffed. “I had no idea what it stands for. CTEEA? Culture, Tourism, Europe and something else committee. You’ve got to lead me by the nose in these things.”

Hot mic

STANDARDS convener Bill Kidd later took a trip to Christine-world when his microphone failed. “Is it turned on?” he asked uncomfortably. “Are you turned on?” Ms Grahame joked. Mr Kidd’s sheepish look suggested it was not out of the question. There was also the moment when Ms Grahame tried to quicken the pace of proceedings. “We have to move on. I am supposed to be chairing this. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not.” How very true.

Life lesson

IT’S not often Scottish Tories welcome public sector largesse, especially for salaries, and especially salaries without strings attached. So you might have expected finance grinch Murdo Fraser to have raged at taxpayers’ cash flying out the door to give teachers a 13.5% pay rise. It was “quite generous”, he observed at finance committee, but then added: “Mrs Fraser is a teacher, so I’m not complaining about that, for the avoidance of doubt.” Fancy!

Feed the beast

SO just who was to blame for Ruth Davidson’s conference rehearsal being broadcast inadvertently to the press? Step forward the Scottish Tory party, who forgot to organise a video feed of the main hall into the media room. With hacks staring at a blank wall, party gophers hurriedly improvised a new feed on a spare TV. All went well until the set suddenly crackled to life just after 7pm on the Friday and out came Ms Davidson in the raw. Oops.

Adam’s grapple

IT all added to a stressful day in Aberdeen for Tory spindoctor Adam Morris, who was already feeling the heat from scribblers after arranging the driest, most distressingly ketchup-free bacon rolls in recent media history. Then came the Ruth gaffe. Then ungrateful hacks put a recording of Ms Davidson’s musings online, even as she gave them free beer at the media reception. Still, Mr Morris did make it the pub eventually - it was, after all, his birthday.


EAGLE Eye of the week award goes to SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald. The Glasgow South MP was browsing the Ministry of Defence’s annual report, when he saw a graphic saying £44bn was going on submarines over the coming decade. It was illustrated by a silhouette he recognised as an Akula class boat. Let’s hope the MoD isn’t spending a fortune on them. The Akula class is a Russian submarine.

Speak up

FINALLY, a late item from the SNP conference, where former Westminster boss Angus Roberston urged activists not to think they could convert No voters by repeating the same old lines in a louder voice. Taking this literally, one earnest delegate asked how it would work at large events. “Angus, could you talk in a little bit more detail about vocal modulation in public oratory at rallies please?” The former Moray MP is rarely lost for words, but it can happen. “Holy moly,” he spluttered.