Wacky Races to vote on dastardly decision
One of the more amusing and exhausting quirks of the democratic process at Westminster is the division bell.
Sometimes you are prepared for this and can calmly make your way to the lobby to cast your vote upon hearing the bell ring. Other times you’re in another part of the building or, even worse, in another building in the sprawling complex altogether.
When this happens you get to witness and participate in what could almost be described as a political Wacky Races. Suited ladies and gents make a mad dash to get to the lobby within eight minutes of the division bell, lest they be locked out by eager doorkeepers.
Wacky Races it may appear but I’ve witnessed some even wackier voting recently.
The two main pieces of legislation we’ve debated and voted upon so far have been the Scotland Bill and the EU Referendum Bill. Both of these have the potential to massively affect life in Scotland yet the overwhelming mandate the SNP hold has been largely disrespected by the other two main parties.
Our amendment to the Scotland Bill, calling for the Scottish Parliament to have full control of tax and spending, was defeated despite Scotland overwhelmingly voting for it at the ballot box last month. Labour, despite their bluster about full fiscal autonomy, abstained from the vote. Their actions really show their rhetoric up for the nonsense it is
nly two Labour politicians dared to vote with us, veteran socialist Dennis Skinner being one.
Another amendment to ensure the permanency of the Scottish Parliament was also defeated. The first five words of the infamous Vow are: “The Scottish Parliament is permanent”.
Westminster hasn’t merely stumbled around this legislation. It has fallen at the first hurdle.
Last week I witnessed Scotland’s sole Labour MP Ian Murray troop through the lobby with the Tories to vote against EU nationals having a say in the future of the UK within the EU.
This kind of exclusive, narrow nationalism was expunged from last year’s independence referendum and I’m saddened that EU nationals like Christian Allard MSP will now be denied the opportunity to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum.
Similarly, 16 and 17-year-olds who contributed so much to the debate last year will also be disenfranchised. Although the independence referendum result was – as I fully accept – not what I’d hoped for, I am proud of the process and the mass political engagement we now enjoy north of the border. It is incredibly disappointing that Westminster does not wish to replicate our model.
This mass engagement has become apparent during my constituency engagements. At Landemer Day and Cambuslang Summerfest many people approached me, wanting to discuss developments at Westminster. The BBC Parliament channel seems to have become a favourite for many, plenty of whom had rarely taken an interest previously.
Westminster seems eager to avert this kind of engagement elsewhere in the UK and I will allow you to draw your own conclusions as to why that is.
I am proud of the mass political engagement we now enjoy
Talking politics Margaret Ferrier receives a gift from Lucy Emslie at Landemer Day