Hard days (k)night

It’s been a good week for the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn. Not only did his motion calling for the UK Government to back a ceasefire in Gaza cause a headache for Sir Keir Starmer and expose Labour’s divisions, but lobby hacks voted him Britain’s hardest politician in a poll for The Fence Magazine. The win came as something of a shock to his MPs who noted their leader’s aversion to spicy foods and preference for Aperol Spritz over beer. “Mega lolz,” tweeted David Linden. “He’s a big softy really.” One Holyrood hack suggested colleagues in London had confused "hard" with "bald and Scottish." 

Macho, macho man

Look, politics is not a blood sport. There’s something a bit macho, blokey, exasperating and pathetic about reducing it to some sort of aggressive willy-waving contest. That said, we’ve got a column to fill, so on Thursday we asked some of the journos, staffers and MSPs enjoying a post-work tipple at Margo’s bar in Holyrood who they thought was the Scottish Parliament’s hardest politician. “I reckon Kenny Gibson looks like he’d be good in a scrap,” said one. “Stephen Kerr looks like he could get you on the ground and give you a kicking,” said another. Someone suggested Kevin Stewart but then realised that was just because he was bald and Scottish. 

Winner takes it all

There was general consensus on the top three. The SNP’s Keith Brown was in third. The Clackmannanshire MSP’s a former marine who looks like he could be “handy” in a fight, claimed one journo. Labour’s Jackie Baillie was in second place. “You wouldn’t mess. You don’t mess” one of her own clearly frightened MSP colleagues said. “That’s not for attributing,” they added. “I don’t want to her know I said that.” The winner, by some distance, was Tory MSP Russell Findlay. In 2015 the former crime reporter had sulphuric acid thrown into his face by a mobster, and yet managed to wrestle his assailant to the ground, straddling him until police arrived. That’s hard. 

The Herald:

Don’t fence me in

In fairness, there wasn't much of a choice. Most of our MSPs are fearties. We know this because on Thursday the Holyrood authorities unveiled the latest addition to the parliamentary estate: a pen for journalists. Normally, after FMQs, reporters hang about outside the chamber ready to pounce on the politicians as they leave. But for “health and safety” reasons the bothersome scribes are now to be rounded up like cattle and forced to stay in their enclosure, only able to lean over the rope barrier to shout questions like paparazzi at a movie premiere. Unspun’s not convinced that it’s very healthy for our democracy that ministers can now scurry past the press to safety, but at least nobody's going to trip over any hack feet.

Common People

Maybe what we need in Scotland is our own Common Sense Tsar. The new moniker was bestowed on TV presenter and occasional Tory MP Esther McVey by Rishi Sunak in his reshuffle. Her job will be to tackle “the scourge of wokery”, according to briefings. Maybe she’ll need to start with ousted colleague Paul Scully. He took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that he’d been given the sack by the PM. Well, actually, he said he’d “got the Spanish archer.” The Spanish archer? The el bow.