Here is a list of things that happened in Scotland this week. See if you can guess which caused the biggest political row:
GDP statistics showed economic growth less than half the UK rate, the third consecutive year Scotland has lagged. One in 12 under-25s is now on a zero-hours contract. The chair of NHS Tayside was forced to resign after the health board dipped into donations to buy a new computer system. Labour councillors voted to increase the allocation of Tory seats on Falkirk Council’s executive committee. Attempts to quit smoking hit a record low after the SNP slashed cessation budgets. Primary classes with 30 or more pupils soared by 44 per cent. School exclusions for assault with a weapon reached a five-year high.
If you guessed the finer points of Falkirk Council committee composition, you obviously have some experience of this devolution business. The bellwether local authority is run by an SNP minority administration which has nonetheless gobbled up a majority of key posts, something the opposition parties were trying to correct. Yet this low-level dispute has seized the political class. SNP MSPs have accused Labour of a ‘power grab’ and of ‘oust[ing] the minority SNP administration’, a curious charge since the administration remains in place. Denunciations abound of a ‘dirty deal’, a ‘toxic coalition’, ‘a mutiny against democracy’ and the Nationalists are demanding Scottish Labour suspend its councillors for voting against them. (A novel concept, that.) Meanwhile, Falkirk SNP has posted a warning on its Facebook page for one councillor who voted against them: ‘Be feart, be really feart’.
All this over a procedural vote on a committee. Local politics…