Holyrood Highlights: The normal folk’s guide to this week in parliament


CommonSpace sources reliably inform us it is almost the weekend

WHERE to begin?

No matter how many smiling photo-ops MSPs engage in, only a good-natured liar would accuse Holyrood of inspiring a collegial atmosphere.

Yet this week upped the ante beyond the typical level of parliamentary bad vibes, with barely a day going by without incident and heightened tensions (apart from Monday and Friday, obviously – we have not descended into savagery just yet).

Catch up on everything you might have missed below.

Parliamentary business

The Scottish Government’s devolutionary defence against Brexit continued this week, as feverish appraisal of the Continuity Bill dominated both the chamber and the committees. Despite the plaintive condemnations of Adam Tompkins – a legal expert, particularly in the laws of both Murphy and diminishing returns – the supposed unconstitutionality of the bill has not prevented its progress, and neither did the vast bulk of the amendments tabled to wreck the wrecking bill intended to prevent a Tory Brexit from wrecking everything.

At First Minister’s Question Time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called upon all members not to use heightened tensions with the Russian government as an excuse for cheap political point-scoring, an entreaty that was abided by for several seconds before Ruth Davidson – sans tank, unfortunately – declared war upon the pressing geopolitical threat of TV stations.

Finally, on Thursday the Scottish Government was unable to prevent the repeal of its prized and oft-criticised Offensive Behaviour in Football Act after years of criticism from pressure groups, civil liberties campaigners and legal experts. Now, the onus of battling football-related sectarianism has fallen upon the OBFA’s critics, given that Scottish football has, once again, shown itself to be curiously resistant to doing so.

Committee business

SNP MSP James Dornan this week lodged a formal complaint with the Scottish Parliament’s standards committee over the return of former minister Mark McDonald, who notoriously chose to resign from the SNP but not from his position as an MSP following his admission of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Given that McDonald’s own constituents have no legal recourse for getting rid of him, any action on the matter will fall to the committee. Convener Clare Haughey confirmed that the committee would open an investigation into the matter.

Visits and events

A demonstration organised by Edinburgh’s Kurdish community was held outside of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday in support of the Afrin, following the unprovoked Turkish invasion of the Syrian city. After being visited by Green MSP John Finnie, protestors moved on to a spontaneous march up the Royal Mile.

Picture courtesy of Wojtek Gurak

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