Bringing It On…

Hello, and welcome to this week’s roundup.

Surely, the biggest fear for anyone entrusted with taking a shot at compiling the weekly Scottish blogs runaround, is that nothing of any note whatsoever will happen on your watch. I’m now on my second outing, but with a bank holiday weekend of glorious weather being thrown into the mix, I began to worry that for the rest of the week, everyone would be so mellowed out and full of the milk of human kindness that nothing interesting would happen, and that no-one would be prompted to opine about anything very much.

Thank goodness, then, for the BBC’s Glen Campbell and his interview with Wendy Alexander – an event which gave rise to a story so big it survived the bank holiday Monday, still managed to appear on the radar screens of the London networks and commentators, and even became the main issue of the Brown/Cameron exchanges at PMQs. ‘Bring it on’, she said, to a referendum on Scottish independence, and fellow keyboard bashers, you didn’t disappoint.

One of the first out of the blocks was former Labour Leader of Edinburgh Council, the Rev Ewan Aitken, who was unbridled in his enthusiasm for the gambit. He wasted no time in suggesting that in not taking up the challenge, the First Minister was somewhat deficient in the respective departments of bravery and bottle. Similarly, New Saltire saw it as a way to attack the very soul of the SNP. More wary was Aitken’s council colleague, Elizabeth Maginnis, who was clearly less than convinced by the gambit. Elsewhere in the City Chambers, Cllr Andrew Burns (who in 1999 had the temerity to beat me in a local election!), adopted a tone of weary resignation about the whole thing.

But if you thought Gordon Brown was surprised, it was nothing compared to the serried ranks of ‘Nat Pack’ bloggers. Julie Hepburn admitted as much here, as did Cllr Allison Thewliss. Other gasts evidently flabbered were those of Anseo, as well as Lib Dem Bernard Salmon. Stephen Glenn thought the move was the right one, but charitably, linked to some other Lib Dems with alternative views on the subject. Marco Biagi seemed happy, offering some (perhaps unwelcome) cross party support for Wendy to carry on her good works, while Alex Massie played it straight. Meanwhile, the wonderful Clairwil, as ever, managed to inject a dose of sanity to the topic, together with a side helping of amused incredulity.

Even Labour spinner Kez Dugdale seemed a little taken aback, before embarking on a philosophical meander through the differences between the general concept of ‘independence’ (good) and ‘seperatism’ (bad). Looking to the future, Kevin Willliamson believes it’s ‘game on’ on the constitution, even if it might be ‘game over’ for Wendy herself. Scottish Tory Boy took delight in being amongst the first to point out that even if she wanted to bring forward her own referendum bill, the standing orders of the Scottish Parliament wouldn’t allow it. Meanwhile, Jeff of SNP Tactical Voting was positively straining at the leash, hoping that Alex Salmond would go ahead and call what he saw as Labour’s bluff.

Wither the Prime Minister, though, after the pounding of last week’s electoral contests? Love and Garbage took a sideways look at the much lauded individual talents of ‘Team Brown’, and in best Lord Gnome style, concluded that the people had been misled previously. Shuggy also cast a weary eye over the present malaise. Meanwhile, the peerless Mr Eugenides mined the dark, dank, dripping recesses of his imagination to share with us the disappointment a prominent Guardian columnist may be feeling with the Brown premiership. Those under 18, or of a squeamish or nervous disposition, should skip straight to the next item – don’t say you weren’t warned…

Turning to a very different ‘Polly’, there’s a new political podcast out there called ‘PollyOdd‘. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet myself, but your regular genial host, DoctorVee, seems very excited by the whole shebang. In my relatively limited blogging career to date, it’s been a source of amusement and, if I’m being honest, occasional frustration, that some great ‘Scottish’ blogging can go almost completely unnoticed in the Anglosphere, while some very ordinary but harder to pigeonhole content can find itself with (in comparison) astronomical exposure. If we don’t shout about ourselves, no-one else will do it for us, so do please give it a listen and lend it your support.

To other matters, and Richard Havers has what sounds like a well-deserved go at a website – booksfromscotland.com – set up to promote and sell the work of Scottish writers. A laudable aim, but is the product or the measurable end result all that they both ought to be? Here, Bishop Hill throws a sharp kitchen knife at Gordon Ramsay for suggesting that restaurants should be fined for serving out of season veg. Will Ramsay be too worried? Probably not – a whole lot of controversy and meeja appearances coming just one week before his new series appears on our screens – give the man’s agent a pay rise!

Elsewhere, Silversprite, the librarian at the end of the world, continues a riff about astronomical fuel prices, in the process making me feel guilty for complaining the other day about having to pay £50 to fill up my small hatch with diesel at £1.16/litre. In the Uists, with the price at £1.36/litre, it would have cost me £60. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Meanwhile, Almax has a look at the reclassification of cannabis and concludes that with the latest move to return it from Class ‘C’ to Class ‘B’, people will just be more confused than ever about its legal status.

So, after a short, if tumultous working week, it’s time to reflect on the bank holiday that was. Auld Reekie Rants, sadly, had to spend his convalescing from man flu – I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing him the speediest of recoveries. Groanin Jock recounts an all too familiar experience resulting from the rare encounters which take place between the Scottish male and strong sunshine. Meanwhile, Angus Nicolson regales us with a picture of the barbecue which Carlsberg would make, if they did that sort of thing. The question is, with fuel so expensive in the Western Isles, how on earth can he afford to run something like that?

And that’s your lot for this week. Remember, posts can be nominated for next week’s roundup by using the form on the right hand side of the page (even for viewers in black and white), or by email using scottishroundup@gmail.com.

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