London walling
WITH Holyrood in recess, Unspun was on a media fact-finding trip to Westminster this week, and what a lot of, er, facts we drank in. First stop was the Scotland Office, where minister David Duguid was recently sacked in the reshuffle. They’re a hard lot at the SO. The reception room already has a blank space and an empty hook where Mr Duguid’s mugshot once hung with those of his colleagues. Whoever snaps his replacement, controversial Tory donor Lord Offord, better be good at action shots. As soon as he saw the press contingent arrive, Lord Offord turned Lord Offski and pelted away. 

Bombay Blues
All the way to India, it turned out. The UK Government sent the shy peer and some pipers to Mumbai to plug whisky from the deck of the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. Given there aren't any aircraft, we might as well use it for something, is the view in Whitehall.

Cloth chaps
ALSO at the Scotland Office, former Labour minister Tom Harris has been made its leading non-executive director, giving “external advice and expertise, which informs the department’s decision-making process”, aka helping hunting, shooting and fishing laird Alister Jack look good as Scottish Secretary. Tom and Al’s double-act has, inevitably, been dubbed Harris and Tweed. 

Gordo Max
MEANWHILE, Keir Starmer  talked to the press about Gordon Brown’s latest project for Labour, the modestly titled Commission on the Future of the UK. With multiple other failed attempts at improving devolution, Unspun wondered if this one would flop, too. Ah, said a Labour spindoctor,  'This time it's different, this time it'll stick.' So there you have it. Labour’s devolution commission: Brown and sticky.

Voice fail
IN his briefing, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford defended the party's Covid passport scheme. “I’ve got mine on my phone. Even got it to work,” he chuckled. “After a while.” He stayed on good form at a later event, where more facts were imbibed. The next day, his voice memorably, and quite coincidentally, gave out at PMQs as he rasped in Boris Johnson's general direction. The self-styled humble crofter has now been renamed the humble croaker.

Book buddies
MICHAEL Gove had a curious prediction for who might replace Nicola Sturgeon. “With the best will in the world, sooner or later there will be another First Minister, whether from the SNP or the Conservatives,” he told Unspun. “Or Alex Cole-Hamilton might win by a landslide next time out, who knows.” Till then, he wants to work with Ms Sturgeon on their shared love of books, especially Shuggie Bain and the works of Lewis Grassic Gibbon. He said: "My fervent hope is that when the Edinburgh International Book Festival returns I’ll be able to interview Nicola about both of them.” Not that he’s hoping for headlines about a twilight First Minister’s Sunset Song, you understand. 

Goodnight Vienna
TALKING of books, the SNP's Angus Robertson is still flogging his new tome on the history of Vienna. Alas, some early Amazon reviews have been harsh: “bland”, "dull”, “self-indulgent and turgid”, “Not for book lovers”. The £25 price is also unpopular. “I’d wait till in the Pound Shop,” said one sniper. If only there was an Austrian word for schadenfreude.