Nicola Sturgeon has been praising the press this week, presumably through gritted teeth.
Her “aren’t journalists wonderful?” compliment (okay, I made up that bit) comes at a time when it was revealed that her husband, Peter Murrell, is caught up in a controversy over WhatsApp messages appearing to support police action against Alex Salmond.
“It wisnae me” soon became “oh, all right, it wiz” thanks to pressure from the First Minister’s pals in the media.
In a message backing this year’s Journalism Matters campaign, Ms Sturgeon wrote of the role of scribes to “ask those hard questions to provide the foundation for the democratic and open society in which we live”.
She might have added: “I don’t promise to give you a straight answer, but feel free to ask.”
This, after telling the Conservatives’ Holyrood star, Ruth Davidson, that it was unreasonable to be asked “about things that other people (Mr Murrell) might or might not have done”.
Yet there was no such prevarication when she answered questions about Margaret Ferrier’s misdemeanours.
She threw the SNP MP, who carried Covid to and from Westminster to make a dull speech to a handful of her parliamentary colleagues, under the train from Euston before it had reached Carlisle.
Why did you bother, Margaret? You could have sent your monologue to everybody in an email and saved the taxpayer a great deal of money. Rail fares are expensive, after all.
It’s harder for the First Minister, however, that her hubby, the party’s chief executive, is the wrong-doer.
While Ms Sturgeon herself apparently knew nothing of Mr Murrell’s texting exploits, it does leave her in a difficult position.
Does she remove his favourite black pudding from his full-English – oops! I mean Scottish – breakfast, or increase his hoovering duties as a punishment for his failure to “express himself well” in his texts? She could always sack him, of course.
Meanwhile, the press has reported on other strange events, though nowhere near as controversial as the Murrell mess.
One is that Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Tories, relaxes by watching YouTube videos of cows – you might want to read that again – and that he is very proud of his grass, which he likes to cut in straight lines.
We assume Mr Ross has been influenced by some of the football pitches on which he has officiated as a linesman.
Then, Labour’s UK leader Keir Starmer was in Scotland to nobble Margaret Ferrier’s constituents, hoping to persuade them to vote for his party in next May’s Holyrood elections.
A good idea? Sure, but didn’t he trust Labour’s Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, to do that job?
Spare me early Christmas promotions
I am indebted to Marks and Spencer for the message –emailed to me on October 4 – that “Christmas is coming”.
They did not mention when, but I assume it’ll fall on December 25.
It’s comforting to know that, three months early, M&S is looking after our interests as they promote “gift ideas” ranging from red wine to remotely-controlled candles for the tree I hate putting up.
While I am impressed with the technological progress made to enhance Christmas trees, I am of a mind to call my nearest branch to suggest what they might do with their remotely-controlled candles.
Will it take more than 10 fingers to count votes?
Four of the candidates have, at least on the face of it, no political leanings, hence their billing as independents.
We assume, however, that come the elections for the UK and Scottish parliaments, they have a preferred party against which they put their X.
But there is a worrying aspect to the local by-election on November 5.
For, if, as some experts predict, there is a meagre turnout as low as 12% to elect a successor to the SNP’s Stephen Flynn, now the MP for Aberdeen South, can that be described as democratic?
What with Covid a deterrent to leaving the house, never mind the usual apathy towards politics, that 12% prediction may be over-optimistic, particularly when candidates can’t knock on doors either to press home their message or, in some cases, have it slammed in their faces.
My guess is that some would-be councillors will manage to count their votes without the need of more than 10 fingers.
Is there a frontrunner?
Independent Andy Finlayson, respected for the work he did when he represented the seat before losing it to Mr Flynn, could be an early favourite.