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Wilkes salutes his old chum Allan Stewart, the Scottish Office minister who left the Government this week after a minor altercation involving a pickaxe and some insanitary protesters. As one sympathetic Scottish Labour MP put it to him: since when has carrying a pickaxe in Glasgow ever been a resigning offence?

It was the same robust political atmosphere which led to the celebrated bon mot from another Glaswegian socialist MP a few years ago. Sam Galbraith, the former neurosurgeon, had been promoted to the Labour front bench very quickly after being elected MP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden. On account of being clever, it was said. Much jealousy among the colleagues, one of whom - heavily-built, threatening-looking - lurches up to Sam. ``See you,'' says he, ``ah doan see why you get choasen fer promotion, just cause yerra neurosurgeon. Some of us have bin opening heids in Glasgow fer years and it hasnae done us any good!'' Anyway, poor old Allan. Mind you, Wilkes has never fully appreciated his taste since learning the naval expression for the curious tufts ofhair he sports on either cheek. They are known in the Service, Wilkes gathers, as ``bugger's handles''.