Sketch: MSPs celebrate Groundhog Day
The good news for the independence movement is the Scottish Government has finally found an answer to the economic questions surrounding leaving the UK.
They have, somehow, created a time machine and last night transported the Scottish Parliament back to 2016. They can surely now sell the science behind their clock-bending portal – never mind North Sea oil, it’s Scotland’s TARDIS.
What other way is there to explain the debate that took place at Holyrood yesterday afternoon, where MSPs were once again debating a Scottish independence referendum?
SNP and Green MSPs argued independence was the only way to get away from Tory rule; the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems were adamant that the argument had been won in 2014. So perhaps time travel isn’t what the government has created. No, we’re all just stuck in a time loop, à la Bill Murray.
Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson was of course in full pomp mode, as is his wont. Brexit was to blame for all Scotland’s woes, he said, including those which have nothing to do with Brexit. And naturally he repeated the argument that the “overwhelming vote in June 2016” was to remain in the EU – seemingly ignoring another overwhelming vote a couple years before that.
But that’s perhaps unfair. Later in his speech he did acknowledge the 2014 indyref. “We accepted that result,” he said. This was all a bit much for the Tories. Douglas Lumsden yelled “you’ve never accepted it!” and buried his face in his palms, while his colleagues exploded in guffaws.
Robertson continued: “But here is the question that requires an answer. After the referendum, did Scotland get what the majority voted for?” Well, given Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom and it did indeed remain in the United Kingdom, one might respond that yes, it did get what it voted for.
The afternoon’s debate was simply about giving SNP “hard-core supporters some red meat to keep them happy,” said Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron, while feeding giblets to his own supporters. “Failure after failure after failure, and all because this government has only one real priority,” he exclaimed, throwing big, juicy steak out to the crowds.
Perhaps, he continued, if the SNP has spent less time on independence and more time focused on the NHS, the problems would be fixed. Which begs the question: what is the UK Government’s excuse? Are the strikes down in England also because of the SNP’s focus on independence? Who knew the party had such huge sway?
Labour’s Sarah Boyack attempted to mediate the growing tension between the SNP and Tories by highlighting what they had in common: they are both awful. Robertson was unhappy about this criticism of the SNP and began chuntering. She zoned in on him. “If you respect my right to respond to your opening remarks, cabinet secretary, please give me a couple of seconds.”
Baffled at having been caught out, Robertson looked to his neighbour John Swinney, who returned an equally baffled expression. Why are we being told off, the expressions said. Truly a performance worthy of an Oscar.
But no one got the collective goat of the SNP like Alex Cole-Hamilton. “I sometimes wonder what we are doing here,” he admitted, scratching his head. This caused an outbreak of tittering from the SNP, which the proud leader of the Scottish Lib Dems did not like. “I can hear the SNP laughing…” That, of course, began a fresh round of laughter.
Cole-Hamilton began an attack on the First Minister specifically, which didn’t go down well. “Winner, winner, election winner!” shouted Robertson from his seat. Shouts of chicken dinner were surely drowned out. “You lost!” he added.
The deputy presiding officer was forced to intervene, telling the cabinet secretary off for the “running commentary” on Cole-Hamilton’s speech.
It didn’t phase Cole-Hamilton though, who used the opportunity to remind voters of his one and only accomplishment: he was elected “with more votes than any other candidate has received in the history of the Scottish Parliament.” That is “the only mandate that I recognise,” he said, absolutely not at all pompously.
The rest of the session was equally as rancorous, with member after member accusing the opposite side of being losers. There might be some merit in that but really, the only true loser in the room that evening… was me, for having to watch this abysmal debate.