I know that lessons will be learned and more robust procedures put in place to make sure that things are properly signed off and seen by a selection of people before they go out. The people who designed it are original, creative, bright, clever, funny, good people, but on this occasion they pushed a boundary a bit too far. If you have never made a mistake in your life, then go ahead and cast the first stone. While I have no problem in criticising elected members and leaders in the party when they do something daft, I do get a bit mother hennish when it comes to our staff. They work well and hard and this is an uncharacteristic blip.
Willie Rennie has been characteristically open and genuine in his apology which appeared on his Facebook account early this morning.
I apologise for the offence that has been clearly caused by our cartoon on the First Minister's remarks in Qatar. Although I did not approve its publication I accept responsibility for it. It has been interpreted in ways that were not intended. It has now been withdrawn. I apologise.I spent some time on Twitter last night explaining the rationale behind its creation because I wanted people to realise that it was a piece of satire, put together in five minutes in someone's lunch hour which was never intended to be interpreted in the way that it was. It was purely a take on the First Minister's comments about Qatar and Scotland having "remarkable similarities". If it had appeared on the front page of Private Eye, it would have been uncontroversial, but we all know that in this context it should have stayed firmly on the laptop it was created on.
Some people in the SNP have been extremely gracious - Humza Yousaf MSP, for example, who said on Twitter this morning to Willie that it was "good of u to accept responsibility and apologise". I think that's a good lead to follow.
Be assured that the lessons of the last 24 hours have been well and truly learned.