Monday, February 28, 2011

Holyrood needs rude awakening, says Jack McConnell on his way out the doors to the House of Lords, the ‘veggies’ must change and speak!

Dear All

It saddens me greatly to say this in public.

Jack McConnell is right (but then a broken watch is right twice a day).

The Scottish Parliament has been accused of lacking seriousness and of resembling a tourist attraction rather than a debating chamber.

This sorry situation has developed because some MSPs are incapable of debate so they sit behind their Party leaders as the cannon fodder they undoubtedly are.

Just making up the numbers!

And when they do on a rare occasion are allowed to speak, they generally have nothing of interest to say.

You can find better pub conservations than Holyrood ones.

In a Spitting Image sketch, years ago, Margaret Thatcher is sitting with the Tory Cabinet having dinner; she is asked by the waitress what she will have. She says, ‘I’ll have the steak’.

The waitress replies:

‘What about the ‘vegetables’?

Thatcher says:

‘They’ll have the same’.

Not only do some MSP not have the ability to ask the difficult questions, they can’t blurt out the simple ones.

McConnell said of Holyrood that some of its rules are "ludicrous" with ministers who should be pinned down by MSPs on policy receiving little or no scrutiny in question sessions that are "rarely lively or interesting".

I have been saying cannon fodder for some time now!

George Laird was right again.

So, Lord McConnell of Glencorrosdale finds a voice, pity is that he should have used it years ago.

Now, on the way out the door he sings like a canary but then he has another ‘branch’ to hop onto.

The House of Lords!

McConnell also damns the parliamentary timetable as too casual, noting there are large parts of the week when the supposed cockpit of Scottish democracy has hardly any politicians in it.

Yes, there are a lot of empty seats, fills up for FMQs then they all disappear.He said:

"As people are walking round it should be obvious that they are in a parliament, not in a museum or a gallery."And as a ‘backhander’ he says that he was ‘shocked’ that the Lords is often far more interesting and lively than Holyrood, and does a better job holding the Executive to account.

If he had ever watched the BBC coverage, then he would know this along time ago.

McConnell therefore has decided to write to the Presiding Officer at Holyrood and all the Scottish party leaders calling for a complete overhaul of the way the parliament operates.

His letter to the Presiding Officeron reform has several recommendations for example when the government loses a vote, he advised, the relevant minister must be forced to make a statement.

He declared:

"I think it has been ludicrous for the last four years that regularly they (the Scottish Government] have lost votes in the chamber and never had to come and make a statement to parliament about how they would respond to that."

But the real scandal is that the full parliament only meets for a day and a half, he says it should be doubled to a three day week.

He added:

"It is just simply wrong that something can happen on a Thursday night and the first time you get a chance to raise it is the next Wednesday afternoon."Of FMQ’s he was indignant:

"Ministerial questions is the worst failing of the current parliamentary structure. Question times are largely ignored, rarely interesting or lively, serve almost no purpose in holding ministers to account and have no topicality."

And in a direct attack to the cannon fodder, he said that there should be an assumption that MSPs do not read from prepared scripts.

That is embarrassing, bullet points are fine, school reading class not fine!

And the time limits imposed mean that MSPs can be told to sit down before they had finished their speeches, in some cases this is a ‘mercy killing’ but there are a few real politicians apposed to party hacks who have entered parliament on the list system.

The ‘public unelectable’ are killing the place.

In a reply to McConnell, Alex Fergusson said he had "some sympathy with some of the points you raise - as I'm sure do other members".

The list system should be scrapped so that every MSP has to fight for a constituency seat.

Second class and second rate list MSPs don’t serve our democracy.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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