FINANCE Secretary Derek Mackay seemed to be feeling the strain in Thursday’s Budget. At one point, Tory whip Maurice Golden asked him how much extra “Nat tax” a primary school teacher earning £35,000 would pay. “That is just pathetic,” snapped Del Boy. “It depends on how much that teacher happens to earn.” He’s in charge of £40bn, you know.

AS everyone focused on the Budget, Holyrood officials sneaked out the latest MSP expenses. Besides millionaire toff Alastair Burnett claiming 41p for postage, the release also painted a disturbing picture of tensions within the Mid-Scotland and Fife Tories. Murdo Fraser, Dean Lockhart, Liz Smith and Alexander Stewart - who share an office - all claimed 50p for single toilet rolls from Poundworld on August 3. Sounds like cabin fever has set in.

AFTER a gruelling Budget, the Holyrood press pack headed up the Royal Mile to the Scotland Office Christmas drinks party, where Ruth Davidson, David Mundell and former MEP turned peer Lord Duncan were holding court. The latter was a paleontologist before entering politics and keeps a collection of dinosaurs on his desk. So what’s his favorite, asked Unspun. “Ankylosaurus,” he shot back. “Very horny all over.” We’ll say no more.

WHEN the vino ran out at that do, everyone trooped back down the Mile to the leaving bash for legendary Scottish Labour spindoctor Alan Roden. A star-struck Mr Mundell chortled away as Red Roddo - last seen on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity as Kezia Dugdale’s paid mate - recalled his brush with Ant and Dec in the jungle. The two even posed for a chummy picture together. No doubt, like everything Roddo-related, it can only promote "Labour values".

RODDO’S absence was keenly felt on Wednesday, when Labour’s press team was over-ruled on how to handle Ms Dugdale’s return to Holyrood. Seemingly immune to good advice, the new leadership decided to blank the media, so ended up being chased through the lobby in a chaotic scrum. What Mr Roden does next remains to be seen. But given his pain-filled CV, he deserves to be snapped up by a crisis management firm in no time.

TEAM Leonard couldn’t even get Christmas right when party leaders took part in a charity photo-call. Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie and Patrick Harvie all dressed up in naff festive jumpers for Save the Children. However the earnest Mr Leonard was missing. Instead, the man he beat for the leadership, Anas Sarwar, had to go along dressed as Santa. For perhaps the first time ever, Anas was more red than his boss.

SNP ministers galore attended the National Economic Forum at Murrayfield on Wednesday. Some had better moments than others. In the gents, two Highland chaps were discussing ScotRail. One complained he’d been stuck on a train with broken heating at minus three all the way to Inverness. Just awful, he moaned. At which point, transport minister Humza Yousaf emerged from a cubicle - and affected to have heard nothing.

SOUTH of Scotland Nat MSP Emma Harper has been having trouble with this internet thingummy. Her Twitter account posted a screengrab from Holyrood TV on Tuesday of her speaking in debate. Alas, it included her favourites and recent web visits. These included a DVD rental site, a site selling whisky pipettes, and a Google search for, er, “santa is a scotsman”. The snap was then deleted and replaced with a duller one. Apparently the account is “managed by a sidekick”. Ahem.