Thursday, 30 June 2011


I was at parliament in Edinburgh today. As this was the last day of term for MSPs, when the First Minister rose to answer Annabel Goldie’s first question, which related to the FM and PM meeting, he spoke warmly of her contribution to politics in Scotland, and about how much he had enjoyed her good humoured upbraiding over the last four years. (Annabel is standing down as leader later in the year.) Mind you, although she thanked him warmly, it didn’t stop her getting stuck into him over health and education questions, nor him hitting back in a humorous manner.

Now I’m politically opposed to much that she stands for (although I was behind her drive to double the number of extra police that the last government put on the streets, among a few other things), but she is a clever woman who, somewhat adeptly, took to the idea of multi political party chambers far better than Labour leaders ever did. When a minority government came along, one that couldn’t operate at all without the co-operation of other parties, Annabel rose to the challenge and worked with the SNP to get Conservative priorities included in the legislative programme, in return for voting for the budget and the continuance of government. Personally I think that on the whole that co-operation has been to the advantage of Scotland.

Shortly after lunch I met her and had the opportunity to chat for a short while. Face to face she is charming. Quietly spoken, and with beautiful manners, she is far prettier and younger than she appears either on television or in her photographs.

I put it to her that, as polls show that she is more popular than the party she leads, was it not a mistake for her to stand down as leader. She expressed herself, modestly, somewhat doubtful that she was indeed more popular that the Tory party, but explained that she had to be thinking of the future of the party over the next 5 or 6 years and felt that the time was right for her to make way for a younger person. She spoke warmly of Alex as a dominant force in Scottish politics and was glad to have been able to take him to task over the last 4 -5 years. It was clear that on a personal level there is a deal of mutual respect and affection between them.

I’m sure she’s an avid reader of Munguin’s Republic, so I’ll thank her for the time she spent with me. I know she was busy, and I appreciated that she made the time for me.

I should say too that I become more and more proud of my own MSP, Shona Robison, who made a short speech of welcome to a group of visitors to parliament, and fielded an impromptu question and answer session. Her professionalism and her warm sense of humour, together with a down-to earth attitude, makes everyone feel at ease and enjoy sessions like these, where she speaks so knowledgeably, and with such enthusiasm, of our parliament and our country.

So thank you too, to Shona. I know that the 60 people who visited today enjoyed every moment of their trip.

Pics: Annabel Goldie and Shona Robison


  1. Mixing with the great and the good today then Tris. It'll have been quite a let down coming back to Dundee. :)

    Actually it's a super day out. I was impressed too but not by the building which I thought was dirty and poorly designed although the Chamber was exceptional.

  2. Tris.

    Oh look at you mixing shoulders with Bella lol, Dean will be sooo jealous you were flirting with his pin up. ;)

    As MSP's go Bella is one of the more likable ones and she and her colleagues have been at times a credit to the parliament for making it work and hold the government to task on policy rather than opportunism.

    I really must get up to Holyrood after the summer to take in a session of FMQ's. Do the public cheer in the galleries at MSP's or do they say little? I wouldn't mind having a pop at Iain Gray!

  3. Ah, well SR, "grate" and "good heavens" more like. But it is always interesting.

    I sometimes wonder why I like the half finished look of the building. Concrete walls have never inspired me before. But somehow I like the place. Maybe it's because it's ours and even if it was an old cow shed it would still please me, I don't know.

    The design is strange; funny shaped rooms, weird bits that stick out. I think it's not to everyone's taste but as I say, it's ours and hopefully no one can take that away! I think it's maybe the concrete walls that make it look dirty.

    One of the things that impressed me was that in the canteen area cabinet secretaries and visitors sat at the same tables with MSPs and the people in overalls who were servicing the lifts.

    Kenny and John getting their lunch from the self service cafeteria and putting their trays and dirty dishes on the revolving tray carrier back into the kitchen.

    Now there's nothing spectacular about that of course, except that you can't imagine Osborne or Gove doing that and sitting chatting with the window cleaner!

  4. ALLAN,

    I was wondering where you'd got to. Nice to "see" you again!

    Do you know, as I was speaking to the "Blue Lady", Dean's image flitted through my mind... Don't worry, it was only briefly! :)

    I think the code of conduct says that you're supposed to keep totally quiet in the gallery, and there are security staff and a policeman up there to make sure you comply, but they can't stop you tittering along when they are being amusing down in the chamber.

    Eck was by and large being amusing yesterday with the party leaders. Nothing terribly grave came up.

    I was surprised that the subject of strikes didn't come up, as Civil Servants were protesting outside the parliament.

    It's quite interesting to watch the MSPs while all is going on. Willie Rennie was fiddling with his fatly stuffed wallet, perhaps counting his money, as he wasn't required to do anything at yesterday's session, being the leader of a minority party. Quite a few of them were chatting with their neighbours and I was thinking that if I'd been the PO I'd have asked them to shut up. Fellow blogger Kazia was sitting there quietly, though. She's not nearly as entertaining as her predecessor, ffoulksie;. I also noticed that Richard Baker has a bald patch at the back of his head; that Joanne Lamont's head will probably fall off pretty soon for all the nodding she does (particularly when Iain Gray is talking and there is a good chance that she's on tv; and that Jackie Baillie smiles good humouredly as Eck rubbishes her statistics!

    Ahhh, it's an education.

    But if you want to see FMQs, you should try to book early.

  5. Oh yeah Tris I met Annabel Goldie and had even better chat then you so i did.................

    I remember it well i says to her

    'Would you like fries with those'

    And she shook me hand as well although she did put on a pair of gloves first and took them off afterwards and threw them in a bin.

  6. Goldie has done well to detoxify our image. Our vote has held up the last two Holyroods; despite massive SNP-Labour squeeze on everyone else.

    That said, it IS time for fresh faces, and a newer generation.

    My personal preference for leader would be either of these to outcomes:

    Murdo Frazer (on the right, but good on fiscal autonomy, and good on family values)

    or a John Lamont-Ruth Davidson combination (they are my dream team, TRG and progressive both).

  7. Deano (The closet Nationalist)

    Yeah! its still around


    or about the size of Neutrino

  8. No, there is a kind of affection for Bella, the rest of the Tories are seen as the same nest of venomous serpents they always heve been.

    Of course I warmed to Bella years ago, her using a Psion in 2nd class with us plebe on the train, Iike a human, if geeky, being.

  9. Welllllllll Niko... I mean you'd been serving fries. Your hands would be all greasy. The lady wears posh clothes; she's not wanting to stuff her hand in her pocket and get chip fat all over them is she.

  10. So you're not jealous, Dean?

    Oh OK.

    I think, from what I can see Murdo Fraser seems to have a bit of a sense of humour. He's always grinning when Eck gives him an answer, and Eck always does so with a chuckle in his voice. They might just have a good rapport; I'm not sure.

    I don't know the other two at all, so I can't comment. If Fraser is for Fiscal autonomy he'd be a good man to have onside as we push that agenda. I don't know what Cameron will make of that, but we do need someone who will be able to stand up to him, seeing as his understanding of Scotland is nil and his idea of respect is surely more reminiscent of the Bullingdon interpretation than of what would have been taught at Eton.

    It will be interesting to find out what Rennie has to say about fiscal autonomy. After all his party is supposed to be federalist, but the Chief Secretary to the Finance Dept in London has ruled out all manner of Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges when it comes to Scotland, backed by the Secretary for Scotland. So we must assume that the English Liberal policy on federalism has altered to become the Conservative policy. As Willie seems to think that the sun shines out of Clegg's butt, I expect that the Scottish Liberals now reject any kind of federalism or fiscal autonomy.

    At least we now know that the Noble, Honourable and Gracious Lord, the Baron ffoulkes is in favour of it. Pity he waited till he was no longer tied to Iain Gray's whip before he came out with that one.

  11. What's still around Niko?

  12. Anon:

    I don't know anyone (except Niko) who doesn't have a bit of a soft spot for Annabel. I'd have loved to have a drink and a chat with her, but I'm sure she was too busy for that, and I certainly was.

    She did say on parting that she hoped that we would speak again sometime. I'm sure it was just politeness on her part, but I genuinely would like to.

    Does she really travel cattle class?

  13. Tris.

    Ah so security is tight up in the gallery then lol. Suppose it would have to be though. I guess you would see a lot of what the MSPs get up to during FMQs from up there as to what you would see on the box..

  14. It's a different view Allan. You see behind where the camera is... all talking and fiddling with stuff, but yes, there are a lot of security people and one policeman/woman. But they aren't intrusive if everyone behaves in a civilised way. I've been now 6 or 7 times and never seen any bother... at least not in the gallery!