WELL, what does the new session of Parliament hold in store for us this time? I’ll tell you what, there are worrying signs that some of the parties are preparing to stand up for what they believe in. Where will it all end?
The first sign of such a crisis in democracy came when the Scottish National Party (or Scottish Nationalist Party as the Labouring Party keep calling it, with characteristic dopeyness) announced that it was going to campaign on the subject of – wait for it – independence in the run-up to the elections next year. I was eating a bowl of Golden Grahams when the news came through on the ticker-tape, causing me to spit a long, arcing mouthful of the breakfast-style comestibles across the room and onto the parrot.
How extraordinary. What had prompted such an extreme approach from the minority governing party? Well, the prospect of losing power, for a start. In power, the whole independence thang was pretty much ditched, as the Nats concentrated on running the country as it is. Since the country as it is is chronically dysfunctional, thanks mainly to the very conditions that the Nats were set up to change, this was always going to be discouraging work.
But forgetting your purpose in power is hardly new. First on Labour’s list on achieving power used to be “ditch the socialism stuff”.
Now the socialism stuff doesn’t even appear on the list. The Conservatives have it easier in a way because we live in a capitalist, unionist society, so there isn’t much for them to scrap.
But usually they find a few welfare benefits that could easily be binned without much harm to their own voters. Still, you’ll rarely hear the Conservatives announcing their raison d’etre: “We are here to see rich people get richer and poor people get jailed.” As for the Lib Dems, since they don’t stand for anything, they’re pretty much onto a winner by keeping schtum. All they need do is watch which way the wind is blowing and fly their flag accordingly.
But what fun it would be if they would all at least attempt to make a few speeches that dealt with fundamentals, beliefs, ideologies and so forth, instead of banging on endlessly about who is responsible for most stabbings and who employed the most nurses/teachers/ policemen. This arithmetically macho posturing becomes increasingly absurd as the fraction of our money that we get back from Westminster to spend each year goes down. And the very allies of the same people making it go down shout the odds when the Scottish Government finds they can’t manage. It’s absurd. Welcome to Scotland. In fact, that should be the tourist board’s motto: “Welcome to Scotland! It’s absurd!” Since the Scottish Parliament isn’t allowed to discuss matters of momentous importance going on in the world, where would be the harm in setting aside a debate called “What I believe”? It would make such a refreshing change from the prevailing modus of: “What my party tells me to believe.” Or: “How I have shifted my principles for understandable pragmatic reasons.” No one can hold you to a vision, or blame you when it doesn’t come true. The only reason we don’t have utopia is because of reality. Let’s face it, even in utopia, someone would be moaning. Inevitably, there would be a split, then two camps, then war or – even worse – elections, and the absurd pantomime of human political existence would begin all over again.
It’s really rare to hear anyone speak from the heart at Holyrood. That’s partly because there isn’t much to speak about beyond supra-cooncil administrative matters. Sometimes, you might hear Karen Whitefield (Lab) getting carried away when boasting of the many illnesses and diseases that prevail in her constituency of Airdrie and Shotts.
Jamie McGrigor (Con) has been known to shed a tear when discussing piltocks, while Frank McAveety (Lab) is capable of delivering Castro-like perorations for hours, on the subject of his record collection. Kenny MacAskill (SNP) has been heard to orate like Nye Bevan when it comes to his strong views on football, Indeed, he once went to jail in England for his beliefs, but was later released on compassionate grounds.
To feel a little passion in the Parliament would be such a wonderful thing. First Minister’s Questions is not the same. That’s not so much a feast of oratory as a bile-inthe- bag concoction. This must be the year in which Labour’s squawking harpies are surely told once and for all to shut the flip up. The noise they make amounts to GBH of the earlobe, and the presiding orifice would be well within his rights to direct security to approach the miscreants with a roll of sticky tape and a rough hessian sack.
I think it’s a shame that the public only turns up by and large for FMQs, when there is a lot of entertainment to be had during other debates. If Holyrood is never to become a proper parliament, like they have in normal countries, then it might as well set aside time for having a laugh, speaking passionately from the heart, and havering histrionically to no effect whatsoever.