Party like it’s 1994

Well howdy true believers, faithless infidels and Nicol Stephen. I’m in the guest rounder-upper seat this week, so hold on – the only driving licence I’ve got is from Will P and comes in multiple colours of crayon.

But if this is going to be rough going, imagine being on the Wendy Alexander Express right now. Calum Cashley is his usual magnanimous self, and claims credit for being the first to spot the rule she is now being forced to abide by. Not quite Guido on Hain, but close enough. Other boots being put in include MacNumpty, Jim Duggan, and Chris Stephens. Richard Thomson makes a good point in wondering why the Electoral Commission still hasn’t followed the Standards Commissioner’s example. The relatively neutral Holyrood Chronicles gives a grim prognosis, and even the rats (well, Daily Record editorial team) are jumping from the sinking ship though fortunately not as far as I know to St Kilda. All quite a maelstrom considering the news only broke this afternoon.

A bit further from home of course we have Derek Conway. Still Not Grown Up thinks MPs (and presumably MSPs) should run by the same rules as the rest of us, while Jamie Hepburn MSP thinks it’s not that simple. (He’s more Clinton than Conway – he doesn’t employ relatives, but his lovely wife is the Westminster candidate for the same area as he ran in last May.) This topic also gives a good excuse to put the royal family Between the Hammer and the Anvil in a quick (but probably fair) swipe and for Bishop Hill to take a look back at the FoI exemption bill with some scepticism about motives. SNP Tactical Voting’s take deserves a mention, if only for the slight kinkiness. What can I say, I’m weak.

While on this subject, you can usually count on Lib Dems to provide a close challenge in the Ann Summers department, but all we have this week is one getting a bit sweary. Come back Mark Oaten, Jamie Stone and Jeremy Purvis, all is forgiven. (Even if “all” can’t be stated here for legal reasons…)

Looking ahead to the coming week, the biggest thing standing there in all its Freudian intimidation is the budget. As Indypal notes, the Presiding Officer will vote against a tie, and the Greens are leaning against as well. Scottish Tory Boy’s favourable coverage suggests the Tories at least might vote for it, but even though Kez Dugdale, solid stalwart of Labour bloggery, says the amendments were theirs to begin with and presumably therefore likes them, I wouldn’t bet money on her party doing the same.

Talking of budgets, while Angry Steve wants a referendum on trams, an attempt at interactivity on Edinburgh’s budget isn’t rated highly over at Aitken’s Edinburgh, in a post which deserves mention even if only for the pictoral Lord of the Rings reference. What can I say, I’m a geek as well as weak.

I’m not the only one either. Both Will P and my own good self are salivating over boundary reviews, which it has been announced will be unveiled on February 14th. Other geekishness includes Andrew Burns, who is drooling over the new Labour contact system. A shame he doesn’t go into detail, as it would be nice to see Activate’s competition. I wonder if Labour parliamentary allowances are being ploughed into this one?

I know what you’re saying now – give us some real substance! You’re sick of these process stories. Yes, because sleaze and scandal is so boring. Well, what could be more substantive than First Minister’s Questions? Who was that at the back? What? More theatrical than the Edinburgh Festival but with less talent? Go to the Presiding Officer’s office and do 100 lines. No, not in the David Cameron way. Oops, stream of consciousness there. So, FMQs. Reading Kez Dugdale it was apparently a roasting for Salmond while Scottish Tory Boy seems to think it was more of a case of blowback on the Lib-Lab administration courtesy of Nicol Stephen. Malc in Edinburgh and North to Leith both agree, and no one at all is surprised that opinions divide amongst party political lines.

Well, here’s some substance, right at the end like the bit you squirrel away in a document when you don’t want your political opponents to bother reading it. Alyn Smith MEP packs in a fair few national stereotypes into a quick consideration of the wider implications of the Italian political chaos, while still having time to insult George Foulkes. What a man. Brian Taylor meanwhile seems to be the only one writing about the affordability of free personal care for the elderly, which was subject of a major Audit Scotland report this week. (I thought it was the professional journalists that were supposed to be obsessed with process stories and not the rest of us?) And what about the ‘McGCSE’? It’s well defended over at the emphatically named Whoopdedoo.

Next week we’ll have the results of America’s primary elections on Super Duper Tuesday. We’ll also know whether we’ll have to go through our own elections all over again, if the Scottish Parliament decides coffee culture isn’t the only thing it wants to import from Italy and washes it down with some latin political instability in the form of voting down the budget. If that happens, in the immortal words of Spike from Buffy, “wackiness ensues”.

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