Admirable Crichton

HUGE excitement among politicos this week at the news that former Daily Record Westminster editor Torcuil Crichton is standing for Labour in SNP-held Western Isles at the general election. It was a great relief for the Labour-supporting paper, which saw two other Pol Eds go off to work with Tories. Torcuil is also terrifically well-liked. He even got support from, er, former Scottish Tory boss Baroness Ruth Davidson. “Congratulations on your selection, Torc. X” she tweeted. What would Sir Keir say? Awks, Torcs.

Crossing the Isles

TORCUIL’S is a political family. His brother Donald was the Labour candidate in the Western Isles for the Holyrood election of 2011. He managed to turn a slender SNP majority of 687 into a rock solid one of 4,772. He had more success the following year when he stood for the council, and was re-elected in 2017 and 2022 - having wisely ditched Labour to stand as an Independent. 

Family man

TALKING of relatives, there was a right family kerfuffle at Holyrood on Tuesday as SNP MSPs seized on calming comments from Phil Fairlie, assistant general secretary of the prison officers association in Scotland, to help them in the bitter the row over trans prisoners. Tory MSP Russell Findlay then ungraciously pointed out Mr Fairlie is an SNP politician. Convener of Clackmannanshire Council, in fact. He could also have mentioned he’s the brother of SNP MSP Jim Fairlie. He didn't. But regardless, it was all just a very happy coincidence. 

Stray coup

LONG-lost SNP somebody Ian Blackford returned to PMQs on Wednesday, asking a question for the first time since being deposed as his party's Westminster leader by upstart Stephen Flynn in December. The chamber went wild. With irony. As soon as the humble crofter’s name was called, cries of "Hear, hear!" and "He’s back!” erupted from Tory MPs. “Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you for that welcome,” beamed the crofter. Rishi Sunak was equally happy. "Aah, it is wonderful to hear from the right hon. Gentleman and lovely to see him in his place,” he said. There was one spot devoid of warmth, however. And a grim-looking Mr Flynn was sitting right in it. 

Sling shot

ALSO featuring in PMQs was Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West. “Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker,” she began, thereby demoting full-blown Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Waking up to the faux pas, she added: “Can I blame the painkillers?” Closer inspection of the telly revealed she had her left arm in a sling. She tells Unspun she damaged a deltoid muscle removing a case from an overhead locker. It was not, she says, incurred joyfully waving her order paper. We believe her. She is a LibDem, after all.

Scots and wry

IS Nat MSP Emma Harper having a wry dig at her boss’s trans travails with her promotion of a Scots language group at Holyrood with a new “word of the week” feature? Her first pick was “fankle - meaning tangle, muddle, twist”. Fancy that. Interestingly, Ms Harper wrote her email to MSPs largely in standard English, not the hammed up lingo beloved of the group itself. Its last agenda also suggested Scots has its limits. The meeting was apparently “Haudit virtual” and included an item on a “Pairlament poster - wi QR code”. The language of Rabbie Burns it ain't.