Parliament: April 2009 Archives

Belt up in the back.

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belt.jpgHamish Macdonell has a scurrilous tale on the Steamie about a supposed plan to attack Salmond's waist size at FMQs.

One party leader, who really shouldn't be named, was mulling over the following line for FMQs.
"Why is it, Mr Salmond," they planned to ask,"that you are the only person in Scotland who is refusing to tighten his - rather large - belt?"

It's a tacky approach even to consider, so let's try to work out who it is. Here's a starter: it wasn't Patrick. For one thing, I know it wasn't. For another, it's not our style. Finally, it's a special occasion these days when we get taken at FMQs.

Next, I think we can rule out Iain Gray. Given how sensitive Labour are to the "£500m of Westminster cuts" line, this would be what the Americans call a Hail Mary pass to say the least.

That leaves just two contenders: Tavish Scott and Annabel Goldie. Both seem at least plausible. Tavish was arguing just recently for fierce tax cuts and, by implication, the kind of budgetary belt tightening a boa constrictor would understand. 

Conversely, while cuts cuts cuts is a more popular Tory approach in Westminster, Annabel does specialise in this odd mix of direct assault and Carry On Matron banter. As one example, how about the occasion she compared the Maximum Eck to a haggis

So, which of the two was it? Hamish has been scrupulously gender-neutral, which perhaps suggests Annabel, but that's pretty tenuous. Suggestions, or even denials from the advisers who apparently squashed the idea, would be welcome.

(incidentally, heaven knows why the Scotsman can't get proper URLs arranged for the Steamie: it's all they need to make it Scotland's best media blog)

chucknorrisevolution.jpgIt's been a slow-burn issue, but gradually Scottish politics has come to be dominated by a single question: what is twenty-four divided by zero?

The crisis began five days ago when Frances Campbell asked the BBC's Brian Taylor to put The Question to First Minister Alex Salmond. His reported answer was:

"Twenty-four divided by zero would be infinity - because you can't divide by zero."

It was a pretty contradictory response from the First Minister, who perhaps was seeking to hedge his bets. Is the real answer actually infinity? Or can one in fact not divide by zero, which would make the first answer incorrect?

Brian Taylor ignored this problem, and blundered in with a different line of attack:

"I think the answer is zero, actually, but never mind."

A classic schoolboy error from BT, who appeared to confuse multiplication with division. The teachers got excited, and the leading light of the SNP blogosphere (non-cybernat division) demanded an apology. It took some time, but it was properly forthcoming.

However, the truth is, as Scottish Unionist pointed out, that Salmond is wrong too, or at least his first answer is: it's undefined, even if the graph tends to either a positive or negative infinity. The question can be rephrased as follows: how many times do you have to subtract zero from 24 to get to zero? There is no sensible answer to that, obviously, not even infinity. Here's another way of getting to the same answer.

Given this mathematical quagmire, why on earth would the LOLITSP have led with accusations of arithmetical impropriety against the FM today to try and attack his budget figures? And why didn't the FM simply give him the answer above? At least they didn't get dragged into the even more fraught issue of imaginary numbers, though... 

New nuts please.

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One of the things I missed while on holiday last week was this excellent Boyling Point cartoon. The tide would truly turn if the Evening News joins the City of Edinburgh Council's opposition. Thanks to Lawrence for the spot.


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from April 2009.

Parliament: March 2009 is the previous archive.

Parliament: May 2009 is the next archive.