Stone me

We know Brian Monteith, the Tories' education man, can have a strange effect on people. But nothing was stranger than one response to his speech last week in the Parliament's early education and childcare debate.

Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, temporarily lost the power of joined-up speech after Monteith's oration.

"What can I say?" he began. "Beam me up, Scotty. Strike me blue, I have heard it all. We all know of the Japanese soldiers that they would find in the 1970s on wee islands in the Pacific who were fighting n for decades after the war had ended. Thatcherism is dead, my friend."

And all Monteith was asking for was the return of nursery vouchers. Strewth. Well we never. Hold the back page.

No speech from Stone is complete without a reference to his cheese-making days. Early-years education was no exception, and it provided yet another opportunity for him to display some joined-up remarks. "Engaged as I was - dare I say it in this chamber - in cheese-making in Tain, and with my wife working as well, the provision (of nursery education) was a godsend." Just so.

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