Wacky Races to vote on das­tardly de­ci­sion

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane -

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.

O

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I am proud of the mass po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment we now en­joy

Talk­ing pol­i­tics Mar­garet Ferrier re­ceives a gift from Lucy Em­slie at Lan­de­mer Day

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