Daily catch-up: in opposition to Scottish independence, and in defence of Chilcot

All you need to know about what is going on this week

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The Independent Online

1. “If you press this button, the oil price falls still further.” Thanks to John Crace for supplying the caption to the above picture of Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, out campaigning with Ed Balls.

2. I wrote about Scottish politics on Tuesday, reporting the lecture given by Sir Nicholas Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury, to the inaugural meeting of the Strand Group. He explained why he had agreed to the unusual publication of his advice to ministers that independence was against the economic interest of the Scottish people.

This openness was greeted with extravagant shows of delight and gratitude by Scottish Nationalists (see the comments and SNP news release), who readily understood that Scottish Office civil servants had drawn up Alex Salmond’s White Paper making the case for independence and that it was right for Treasury civil servants, therefore, to set out the facts of economic life as they saw them.

3. Yesterday, normal service in this catch-up slot was again suspended so that I could comment on the letter from John Chilcot saying that his report on the Iraq war would not be published until after the election.

In like fashion, this was greeted in the comments by many hundreds of my fellow citizens grateful for a clarification of some of the complexities involved in compiling the report. Similarly, my Twitter account was full of what can only be described as terms of endearment after I tried to explain to Jon Snow on Channel 4 News last night that Nick Clegg and Caroline Lucas do in fact know better than to encourage conspiracy theories about Chilcot.

4. While all this was going on, the Decemberists’ new album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, was released on Tuesday. It is utterly, utterly wonderful. Buy it now and play, especially, tracks 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13 and 14 on a permanent loop.

5. Penultimately, thanks to Chris White and Hugo Rifkind for this old Dr Zhivago story:

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6. And finally, thanks to Scotty for this:

“I’ve just bought the adjacent allotment to my own.

“The plot thickens.”

And to Cameron for the inevitable follow-up:

“I just bought the flat above me but that is another storey.”

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