Happy New Year

As this is my first post of 2015 I shall wish you all a happy new year, however belatedly. Lang may yer lum reek, and may it not catch fire, as Christine Grahame’s did one year. She told the story to the chamber yesterday, during a debate on the emergency services. Other stories were told, too, and Patricia Ferguson remembered the Stockline factory disaster. There was universal praise for members of the emergency services, which reminded me of David Stewart’s question on the Kinloss rescue coordination centre, during which he described the staff there as “a beacon of light on the hill”.


As I looked over Official Reports that we’ve published since the parliamentary term resumed, I found a refrain of disaster. There were four topical questions at the meeting on 6 January, on Ebola, the Glasgow bin lorry crash, the Cemfjord sinking and the loss of City Link jobs. On 8 January the First Minister conveyed Scotland’s condolences on the shootings at Charlie Hebdo to the French consul general. On 14 January there was Opposition business, for which Labour focused on pressures in the national health service, and Hanzala Malik led a member’s business debate on the school attack in Peshawar.

I also noticed the odd prescience of some business. Last week, the Justice Committee scrutinised subordinate legislation on the regulation of investigatory powers and this week, in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, the nation is again debating the degree of access that we might be prepared to permit the security services to have to our communications. The chamber discussed active travel on 7 January and on 15 January the BBC reported a study that found that inactivity kills more people than obesity does. Might scheduling some good news debates have more effect than hitherto dreamed of?

Worth a look:

Words of note:

Obtemper won’t be new to the lawyers, nor is it new to Fergus Ewing, who has used it on a few occasions. It is from Scots law, and The Chambers Dictionary defines it as meaning “to yield obedience (to)”. On this occasion, discussing the City Link administrators, Mr Ewing said:

“That is why it is extremely important that the administrators obtemper the undertaking that they said in a press release they would fulfil, namely that employees affected by redundancy would be offered appropriate advice and support on making claims for redundancy and notice pay.”

Lum, for those who were wondering, is Scots for a chimney. You can also get a lum hat, and a lum-head – which last is the top of a chimney, rather than an insult.