The continual shaming of the Scottish Parliament

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  By G.A.Ponsonby

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament witnessed yet another shameful episode in what has now become a weekly ritual, as Unionist MSPs traduced the seat of Scottish democracy.

Lies, insults and misrepresentation were on display and such was the level of vitriol from at least one pro-Union MSP, the presiding officer was forced to step in and ask Ruth Davidson to retract an offensive remark.

  By G.A.Ponsonby

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament witnessed yet another shameful episode in what has now become a weekly ritual, as Unionist MSPs traduced the seat of Scottish democracy.

Lies, insults and misrepresentation were on display and such was the level of vitriol from at least one pro-Union MSP, the presiding officer was forced to step in and ask Ruth Davidson to retract an offensive remark.

Davidson’s ‘Pinocchio’ remark was a variation on a recurring theme and follows a similar episode when the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was also taken to task twice for basically calling the First Minister a liar.

Yesterday Lamont attacked Salmond over the disappointing figures which showed class sizes for pupils in the first three years of primary school had risen by an average of 0.6 per classroom.  Not a disaster, but still a legitimate target for the Scottish Labour leader.

Lamont however couldn’t resist embellishment and claimed the situation had worsened since Labour were last in office – a falsehood highlighted by Salmond, not once but twice.

But back to Davidson and the thrust of her point which was EU membership.  Once again we had a Unionist politician trailing the lie that Ireland’s European Minister had backed claims that a newly independent Scotland would somehow be forced to leave the EU.

This is a story that has particular relevance for Newsnet Scotland in that it was us that exclusively published correspondence we had received from Lucinda Creighton on this very issue.  Far from claiming Scotland would find itself out of the EU, the Irish Minister categorically denied having intimated any such thing in a now notorious BBC Scotland interview.

Lucinda Creighton specifically stated she did not suggest Scotland would, should or could be thrown out of the EU.  Indeed she went further and endorsed the Scottish Government’s own timetable for re-negotiation from within the EU after a Yes vote.

The irony of Ruth Davidson’s attack was that, after misrepresenting the views of the Irish politician, she then went on to accuse Alex Salmond of misleading the Scottish people.

The exchanges at First Minister’s Questions have now been rendered worthless by people who are out of control.  The presiding officer has expelled one Labour MSP from the chamber, rebuked the Scottish Labour leader twice in one session and has now also forced the leader of the Scottish Conservatives to apologise.

Long insult peppered diatribes are masquerading as questions, and falsehoods are regularly thrown at Alex Salmond who has to try to address each and every point.  This in turn has meant little by way of time for backbenchers to pose their own questions, something highlighted by the presiding officer at the end of yesterday’s proceedings.

But backbenchers are not immune from making kneejerk attacks on Salmond.  Yesterday Labour MSP Neil Findlay provided another head shaking moment when, after posing a legitimate and sombre question on the number of hours worked by junior doctors following a tragic death, he leapt to his feet calling a point of order after the First Minister advised he could not go into detail on the case due to the possibility of a fatal accident inquiry.

Findlay’s accusation that Mr Salmond had unwittingly misled the chamber over the remark and should return in order to correct his answer was pathetic and a disappointingly apt end to an embarrassing and shameful half hour.

It’s painful watching these people shout and bawl, and the SNP backbenchers are as guilty as their pro-Union counterparts of heckling and barracking as questions are being posed, although they mercifully haven’t followed the Scottish Labour example of hammering their desks with their fists.

But it’s the lies, insults and misrepresentations that have to be cut out.  This does no-one any credit and any and all falsehoods, however unintentional, should be acknowledged and corrected.

Salmond has shown himself big enough to correct and apologise for statements that have subsequently been discovered to have been inaccurate.  It is now time for all MSPs to be held to account in what is after all the nation’s most important chamber.

They are supposedly there to represent their constituents, not to indulge their own petty prejudices and personal animosities.

Scotland deserves better.