Unspun — The Political Diary: Ian Blackford should take advce from the pantomime pro

THE last PMQs before Christmas saw its fair share of boisterous behaviour on Wednesday, Omicron on the rampage or not. As is traditional, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s warning that the next question would be from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford drew a wail of groans from the Tory benches. Given the festive spirit, this was even louder than usual, thoroughly irritating some Nat MPs. “It’s not a pantomime!” exclaimed one chap. It was asking for it, really. “Oh yes it is,” came the Tory replies. 

Silent Screen
TALKING of heckling, some MSPs still struggle with it. Local government minister Ben Macpherson was answering a question online this week when some of the opposition in the chamber got leery. Ben was oblivious in his virtual setting. “I have said it previously and will say it again,” sighed deputy Presiding Officer Liam McArthur. “It is pretty futile to heckle a person who is appearing on a screen.” But isn’t that the entire business model for Sky Sports? 

He’s behind you
MAYBE Mr Blackford’s team should have taken advice from a pantomime pro, like Jamie Stone. The comedy LibDem MP for Caithness yesterday issued pictures of himself caked in make-up and dressed like a laundress. It was, he claims, purely in aid of Panto Day. “The theatre sector cannot be left high and dry in times of national crisis,” he declared, as he ran about hoisting his bloomers and wondering where he put that magic lamp. Sounds like any other day for our Jamie, to be honest. 

What’s Up, Pete? 
NO debate over the best story of the week – SNP MP Pete Wishart being “goaded with carrots” by supporters of Alex Salmond’s Alba party. The latter pitched up outside the grumpy MP’s Perthshire office wearing masks of his face to mock his perceived lack of action on destroying the Union. But what really infuriated him were the carrots left to symbolise the “independence carrot being dangled” in front of his gullible supporters. Pete duly took to Twitter – where else? – to rant against “Alba idiots” with “a thing about carrots”. It’s now a meme. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn ugly. Scenes of hand-to-hand vegetables in the street may not be the winner the Yes movement thinks it is. 

Sorry, what?
SNP party chair Kirsten Oswald suffered some selective IT  trouble on BBC Politics Live on Tuesday. After a Glasgow  restaurant owner said the city’s SNP-run council “did absolutely nothing” for the homeless at the start of the pandemic, the East Renfrewshire MP was asked why: “I’m sorry, I can’t hear myself talking over you there,” she said, before attacking the Treasury. Asked again, she said: “Well, I think the Conservative government are…” Asked a third time: “I’m sorry I didn’t hear that.”

Blaster of Muppets
SCOTLAND’S chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith has a novel way of coping with the pandemic – listening to heavy metal songs about death. This week he tweeted he was feeling low after a “couple of really long & intense weeks”. So maybe some smooth jazz to unwind? Nah. “Took 5mins, headphones on and gifted myself Metallica’s ‘To [sic] Whom the Bell Tolls’ along with a flat white. Thank God for the rejuvenating power of superb music.” Time marches on, goes the grim chuggathon’s chorus, For whom the bell tolls! Blimey, it could almost be a Covid anthem. We reckon we’ll stick with Chris Whitty stage diving to Gilbert & Sullivan. 

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