Another bad week for Michael 'Honest Mistake' Matheson as the row over his £11,000 iPad bill refused to go away. Perhaps he’d be better off if Humza Yousaf sacked him. Literally. One of the ironies of the Holyrood system is that if Mr Matheson walks away over lying about the public money scandal, he would be entitled to more public money to cushion the blow. Regardless of why he left, he would get a £12,712 loss of office payment payment, based on 25% of his ministerial pay bump. Enough to cover his bill and a tidy deposit on his next family holiday in Morocco. Ain’t public service grand?

Get to Falkirk

Mr Matheson could always blame his constituency for his woes, as it seems there’s something about Falkirk when it comes to politicians, their kids and chunky expenses. Long before the Falkirk West MSP tearfully revealed his teenage boys had been watching footie via his iPad signal, Falkirk’s then Labour MP Eric Joyce regularly made the biggest expenses claims in the Commons. After breaking the £200K barrier in 2009/10, he also pointed at the nippers, saying it reflected the cost of transporting his two kids “up and down more often than other MPs”. Then again, other MPs didn't have to live in Falkirk.

Dodgy Rep 

Alyn Smith, the SNP MP for Stirling, was in good form at last weekend’s Break Up of Britain? conference in Edinburgh. A former MEP and ardent Europhile, he declared: “I’m a product of the European Union myself. I did my Erasmus year in Heidelberg University in Germany. I did my Masters at the College of Europe in Warsaw. I was a rep on the Costa Brava in Spain - though you won’t see that in any official biogs.” Well, a jolly good thing it’s been recorded here, mate.


Mr Smith also riffed on St Andrew, noting our patron saint never even saw Scotland. It was one of his Greek devotees, Regulus, who supposedly brought his bones here. Regulus got on his boat and he sailed until he was shipwrecked in “a really desolate awful place”, the MP explained. “You know the film The Lord of the Rings where there’s Mordor and the Orcs are in the mud? He found himself marooned on this desolate shore. Or as we say today, Fife.” 

Leak soup

A fascinating Freedom of Information release this week revealed the background chat among Nicola Sturgeon’s special advisers on the eve of her resignation in February. Unspun hails her chief of staff Colin McAllister for insisting there would be “no silly exclusions” from her press conference, a dig at Alex Salmond, who infamously blocked newspapers he didn’t like when he quit in 2014. Colin also said he would be giving the BBC and Sky a heads up. “This may lead to leaks but FM comfortable with this,” he wrote in a prescient memo. Lo and behold the Beeb duly blabbed the lot.

Lower orders

The memo also gives an insight into the pecking order under Ms Sturgeon. The handful of SpAds and officials in the know about her exit jokingly called themselves the “magic circle”. Far below them were those the FM wanted to tell early “albeit perhaps only a few hours (or minutes) in advance”. These included the King, her ministers (who got 30 minutes' notice tops) and last and most definitely least her MPs and MSPs, who only got their official emails as the press conference started on TV. Ouch.