A new President, an old Poet and a Big Beast

Hi folks! I’d open the Roundup by quoting some Burns at you, but frankly, you’ll have heard quite enough from the Bard by the end of the week. In any case, there have, as always, been lots of reasons for bloggers to take to their keyboards, not all of them poetry related.

Firstly, people seemed to get excited about things going on across the Atlantic, with the small matter of the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States of America. Ewan Aitken and Caron are particularly celebratory, though not as celebratory as Labour Councillors in Lewisham, who, as James notes, spent so much time waxing lyrical about Obama that a Green proposal for free school meals couldn’t be brought to the meeting.

Bill Cameron looks forward to what the Obama-Biden administration will mean for LGBT rights. Shuggy detects a Puritan streak in the new President, while Ideas of Civilisation notes that the difficult part is still to come. Mark Gallagher, meanwhile, notes that the change of administration hasn’t been matched by a major shift in policy on Israel-Palestine.

In terms of the inauguration ceremony itself, Willie Rennie MP missed it, while Ewan Watt wasn’t overly impressed. Flying Rodent covered the event from a parallel universe, while Malc notes that the BBC may have been doing so as well.

And of course, there now begins a scramble to claim some sort of closeness to the new President: of the contenders, Yousuf is in the strongest position of all, having spent time with Obama campaigners. Mr. Eugenides and A Leaky Chanter snigger at the Scottish Tories’ attempts to jump on the Obama bandwagon (didn’t John McCain address a recent UK Tory Conference?), while at Crap Holyrood Chat there’s exasperation at Alasdair Allan’s efforts to hitch the Outer Hebrides to President. And indeed, Alex Salmond’s attempts to claim Obama as a descendant of a Scottish king have annoyed Welsh blogger Alwyn ap Huw, who claims that Obama o Fôn can actually trace his roots back to Anglesey, making him the 41st US Presidents with Welsh lineage. Alwyn claims that Obama would in fact be the 44th Welsh-American President had his countrymen not disinherited Nixon and “disinheramatated” the Bushes.

And with the Bush administration gone, Osama Saeed believes it’s time for another set of violent extremists to leave the stage: al-Qaeda.

Anyway. Celebrations are now underway closer to home – and around the world, as it happens – for Burns Night. Enjoying the festivities are , Andrew Burns and Kevin Williamson.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been taking flak for missing a knife crime summit to attend Burns Suppers in Canada. Jim Millar leads the online criticism, while Calum Cashley notes that Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing was present, leading him to wonder why Opposition politicians wanted two Ministers there, and what Junior Ministers did in the last Executive. In a second post, he reflects on the contribution to the discussion made by John Muir, the father of a victim of knife crime.

But back to 250-year-old men who play a large role in the national consciousness: Kenneth Clarke returned to the Tory Frontbench this week, as Shadow Business Secretary, prompting wags to express surprise that Peter Mandelson could actually have a shadow. Angus Nicolson, Andrew Burns, Holyrood Patter and Yousuf Hamid ponder the ins and outs of Clarke’s return.

And the re-emergence of Clarke co-incides with Ideas of Civilisation reflecting on the absence of real personalities in politics, through the medium of snooker.

Seeing as Big Ken will be looking at economic issues, it seems fitting to note that the recession pundits have been banging on about for weeks was finally made flesh this week. Ewan Watt, Richard Havers and Jeff all take a look at the state of the economy, and their conclusions don’t make good reading for Gordon Brown. James, meanwhile, notes that the state of the Icelandic economy, and the political consequences for Prime Minister Geir Haarde, make Alex Salmond’s model of independence look far weaker than it once did. Elsewhere, Malc wonders if this was altogether the right time for RBS to announce its continued sponsorship of the Six Nations, while Caron can’t quite believe that the acceptability of Scottish banknotes in England is the biggest thing on David Mundell’s mind. (By the way, the one thing I hate about spending Scottish notes in England is that the cashier automatically asks, “Oh! Have you been to Scotland?”. I always want to reply, “No, I’ve been to Tahiti, where do you think I’ve been?!”)

Speaking of spending money, Duncan Cumming notes that Charlie Gordon MSP has managed to spend a five-figure sum on his website. Duncan Stephen adds his reflections.

Speaking of parliamentarians and their expenses, Mr. Eugenides, Jeff and Holyrood Patter take a look at the fiasco that ensued when Gordon Brown issued a three-line whip instructing Labour MPs to vote in favour of exempting details of MPs’ expenditure from Freedom of Information legislation, then said they could vote however they wished, then shelved the vote altogether.

Still, MPs having the public look over their expenses is small potatoes compared with having the police turn up at the office without a warrant and search the place, as happened to Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham. Stephen Glenn wonders what hope ordinary people have when MPs’ civil liberties are damaged like this, and Tom Harris MP has a thoughtful post on when a Parliamentarian should tell the boys in blue to go forth and multiply.

So it’s in that context that the Carnival of Modern Liberty should kick off, with McChatterer discussing civil liberties, and Wardog examining liberal civic nationalism.

In other matters, Tom Harris MP asks if it would be wise for Labour to , then asks if a Tory victory is all that inevitable anyway.

At a local level, Jeff looks at the speculation over who will be Labour’s candidate to replace retiring MP Gavin Strang in Edinburgh East.

Elsewhere, the BBC takes pelters for self-censorship, by refusing to broadcast the DEC’s appeal for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Bill Cameron, Julie Hepburn and Caron join in the condemnation.

Also taking pelters are the Glasgow City Council administration, for its plans to close and merge various schools in the area. BellgroveBelle, David McDonald and IndyGal all criticise the proposals.

Staying with shenanigans in local government, Stephen Glenn reports on developments in Aberdeenshire, where former LibDem Councillors Martin Ford, Paul Johnston and Sam Coull have quit the group to join Debra Storr in opposition.

Meanwhile, IndyGal reports on another example of Motion Wars in the Scottish Parliament.

Elsewhere, Derek Draper’s new online project LabourList has come under bloggers’ microscopes, and they aren’t too chuffed with it: Ewan Spence, Gus Abraham and Cabalamat are all unimpressed.

And with cynicism abounding in the blogosphere, Stuart Winton looks at what impact that has on people’s opinion of politics and politicians.

Congrats to Alex Massie, who has a new gig at the Spectator.

I’ve been waiting to say this on a Roundup for some time: Tom Harris needs help. But only with a su doku.

Scott notes that the Leader of Scotland’s sixth political party is less popular than Ben Adams from A1. Of course he is – Ben is far hotter whereas Tommy Sheridan wouldn’t even meet my low, low standards.

And finally, admit it… you’ve been just dying to know which member of Celebrity Big Brother is Nicola Sturgeon’s favourite. Well, wonder no more! IndyGal spills the beans.

That’s a wrap for this week… West Lothian’s finest, Stephen Glenn is here next week, and in the meantime, why not send your suggestions to scottishroundup@gmail.com, or fill in the formydoodah on the right? Bye-de-bye!


  1. a happy burns night to all of you and if you won’t quote then I will…

    “The fear o’ hell’s the hangman’s whip
    To laud the wretch in order;
    But where ye feel your honor grip,
    Let that aye be your border.”