Fast food and hard drugs… it’s all in a week’s work for MSPs

Richard Leonard had another good week. Embarrassed Nicola Sturgeon on childcare. Even quoted one of her old speeches back at her. He’s getting good at this. 

But you don’t want to hear about that, not when there’s fast food and hard drugs on offer. Scholarly Tory MSP Adam Tomkins enquired: ‘What is the First Minister’s reaction to the news this week that, in Glasgow, cocaine can be delivered more quickly than pizza?’

‘That explains why my deep pan pepperoni always arrives faster when I order a Coke’ should have been the First Minister’s reply but she went with something boring and worthy instead.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie had a pop over Europe. For those keeping score at home, Rennie is the one who wants a second referendum on Brexit but not on independence while Sturgeon is keen for another go on independence but less so on Brexit.

Why oh why wouldn’t the First Minister team up with the Lib Dems to urge a referendum on the terms of quitting Brussels? Together, she and Vince Cable could take over the world, or at least a sparsely attended soapbox on Hampstead High Street.

Besides, two of her former special advisers, Noel Dolan and Kevin Pringle, were calling on her to back an escape clause referendum. ‘They are two of the great thinkers in the SNP,’ Rennie teased, before pausing to add: ‘Keith Brown has a degree of sympathy for the idea and Ian Blackford is open to looking at it as well.’

Boom. Boom. He even got Sturgeon to crack a smile — no mean feat. Rennie should quit while he’s ahead.

Backbencher Graeme Dey reminded the chamber of former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson’s July 2016 comments on offshore wind generation.

As if we could forget. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard Kennedy had been shot and when Brian Wilson said wind farms were pants.

‘Does the First Minister share my view that Brian Wilson has been proved wrong again?’ Dey demanded.

Devastating. How would Sturgeon withstand such merciless scrutiny? Fortunately, she took it on the chin and explained that, yes, if you must know, she had been right all along and her opponents were knuckle-chewing Luddites.

SNP MSPs are not afraid to hold ministers to account, provided they’re Labour ministers last in office 15 years ago.

(Confessions of a pop culture refusenik: One night, when I worked on a current affairs programme, the producer excitedly announced we had a bid in to interview Brian Wilson. The whole production team was unusually giddy. ‘Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann,’ trilled one, to my puzzlement. ‘What are the rest of the band up to now?’ asked another. Finally, the penny dropped. ‘Brian was in a band?’ I piped up, sincerely. ‘Was that before or after the Scotland Office?’)

Tory Rachael Hamilton served up a ‘telt’ moment when she set about Health Secretary Shona Robison. One of her constituents had an operation cancelled and, after Hamilton complained, a pro forma letter arrived from the Health Secretary calling the delay ‘highly regrettable and totally unacceptable’. When it was cancelled a second time, Robison wrote to say the delay was… ‘highly regrettable and totally unacceptable’.

Hamilton fixed the SNP leader with a cool glare: ‘When will the First Minister realise that we need action and that simply repeating bland statements of regret and saying that it should not happen is just not good enough?’

Rachael Hamilton doesn’t mince her words. We like this one.

Adam Tomkins wasn’t the only one fretting about deliveries. Richard Lochhead said many of his constituents had been in touch to complain about extortionate charges. He was keen to emphasise that rip-offs weren’t limited to rural customers and noted that one company slapped an additional fee on parcels going to Paisley. That’s not a delivery charge, it’s danger money.

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Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Contact Stephen at

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