Granite faces
There’s more than defections, resignations and defeats to discuss at the SNP conference in Aberdeen this weekend. The party has internal elections to cheer it up. It couldn’t lose those, right? Alas, the conference handbook reveals interest is rather limited. Of the 16 places on the ruling national executive for regional members, six are either unopposed or lack any nomination at all. While for the policy development committee, 10 of the 16 places are unopposed or unfilled. It’s almost as if activists have lost their way. It’s how most folk end up in Aberdeen after all. 

Beardy n Butthead
Thankfully there’s light relief in the potted biographies candidates supplied. Some nip the leadership. One says the SNP must “refocus” on independence (ouch). Others are gloriously basic. Glasgow Kelvin’s Jack O’Neill just had the word “independence” printed 18 times next to his name. We also liked the slogan from Glasgow Provan’s Mhairi Love: “Only Love can set you free.” But the prize for the oddest pitch goes to Helensburgh’s Graeme McCormick. “I serve; I don’t pontificate!” he pontificated. “My focus is independence in 15 months. I’ll call out the ‘But’ heads!” He’s trying to replace Mike Russell as SNP President, you know. Fingers crossed.

Count me out
The count for the Rutherglen & Hamilton West by-election was a lively affair, but not always for the right reasons. One hack spilled coffee  all over his shirt before the ballot boxes arrived, and spent the night billowing around in a huge replacement borrowed from a South Lanarkshire Council press officer. Meanwhile SNP activists were so glum they hid in a side room, only to find the council had laid on a mound of Tunnock’s wafers and teacakes, as made by that arch Unionist Boyd Tunnock. Then again, anything would have stuck in their throats after that result.

Blackboard bungle
Michael Shanks now leaves behind his career as a modern studies teacher to become Scotland’s second Labour MP. Some of his pupils seemed mystified by it on TikTok. Two identified him as their history teacher, a third as their criminology teacher. He obviously made a big impression in Mod Studs. 

The Kate Escape
Perhaps SNP runner-up Katy Loudon should look at it as a close escape. In the final days of the campaign, Humza Yousaf said she would “only take her orders from the people of Rutherglen & Hamilton West and stand up for the issues that matter to them”. That’s what Fergus Ewing did on behalf of his Highlands constituents - and look what happened to him.

Micro management
It was Douglas Ross’s job to introduce Rishi Sunak at a Tory conference reception in Manchester. The PM is notoriously sensitive about his height, so before he arrived the Scottish leader said he had some “small housekeeping duties” to do, and bent the podium microphone way down.
“I just need to sort this out for him,” he grinned.  

Room with a clue
Still, Mr Sunak got the last laugh. While the Prime Minister and his entourage enjoyed the best rooms at the sumptuous Midland Hotel a stone’s throw from the conference venue, Mr Ross and Scottish Tory chair Craig Hoy were left in no doubt about their place in the scheme of things with a stint in a Premier Inn.