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The Stooshie Diary: Deals, wheels and a bumpy landing

The Stooshie Diary
The Stooshie Diary

You’ve all had time to digest the new SNP-Green deal for government. So what’s the verdict? Is it Nicola Sturgeon’s brave new dawn, or as Alex Salmond put it, a bit of student politics?

The former first minister’s put-down was meant to belittle his successor, who was busy lining up Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater to join her in running the country.

Mr Salmond wanted to remind people – in the north-east, chiefly – that he’s on the side of the oil economy. He oversaw the completion of the Aberdeen bypass. He also built a huge bridge over the Forth.

The SNP – eventually – untangled the Inveramsay bridge on the A96, nearly 10 years after Mr Salmond promised it in his pitch to run Scotland.

The new SNP-Green deal – the agreement that isn’t really a coalition – would not have allowed those to happen, he warned.

It also reminds those with longer memories about his own forays into deals that weren’t really coalitions.

Conservative votes

Mr Salmond might not have had actual Tory ministers in his administration, but he was happy to rely on their votes to keep him in power.

Other than the 2011 landslide, Holyrood has been a parliament of deals and coalitions. It’s normal.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats ushered in the new Holyrood project and steered it over the first two terms.

Voters didn’t give the SNP an outright majority either. They chose to stand alone but had to rely on Conservatives or other parties to help plans over the line.

Alex Salmond at Holyrood, with Nicola Sturgeon looking on.

Once the SNP majority was trimmed back after the rollercoaster 2011-16 session, which nearly ended with an independent Scottish state, we were back to minorities and deals.

The new attempt to run the country in a ‘co-operation’ deal is a genuinely fascinating shift – whether you like what’s in the plan or not.

Many of us are happy to hold competing views in our own heads. We know there’s an environmental crisis, but we also like having wages from those decent energy jobs.

We want to get out of cars and stop relying on gallons of petrol, but there isn’t a bus or train that takes us where we want or need to go.

We’ve been told for years and years about the plan to shift from fossil fuels but we’re struggling to see the detailed plan.

This is a massive test for the First Minister who has a brief chance to set a course people in the north-east, rural communities and across the country are willing to follow.

The long wait is over

It was actually a bumper week for smaller political parties making their way in the big, bad world of Holyrood.

The real headline moment was of course Alex Cole Hamilton becoming leader of the smallest of groups, the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The former Aberdeen Uni man, and Fife emigre, is now looking after his three other colleagues at parliament, including the man he replaced, Willie Rennie.

The signs were there before the election when I had the honour of witnessing Mr Rennie engaged in one of his fabled photo-ops on the election trail.

Willie Rennie microlight flight
Willie Rennie, nervous, but still with colour in his cheeks.

After 20 minutes in the sky strapped into a microlight, a distinctly green-looking Mr Rennie emerged, quietly thanking his lucky stars to have made it back in one piece.

“Alex will just have to wait a little bit longer,” our queasy airline passenger remarked.

‘Paddleboarding’ while Afghanistan burns

While Scotland’s domestic politics is undergoing a re-boot, the UK Government is caught up in multiple crises.

Britain’s man in the foreign office is now back from holiday, so everything should be fine…

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

Dominc Raab has rightly been skewered for his lack of action. A man who was happy to sit it out on a Mediterranean beach than hurry back.

He denies claims he was actually paddleboarding while Kabul fell, but he does admit he probably should have just cancelled his adventure in Crete.

The “sea was closed”, so he couldn’t possibly have been splashing about.

If nothing else, that claim is now firmly in the big book of amazing political excuses.