Scotland: Parliament opening reaction

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Fri May 9 06:16:48 MDT 2003

Apart from the one opening letter strongly supporting the actions of the SSP
MSPs at the Parliament opening ceremony this week, the rest are unanimous in
their criticism. The SSP is going to have be careful about this, not least
because what they stand for is deadly serious and should not be left open to
ridicule in any way, shape or form, wherever possible. Previously I have
criticised the tendency in the party towards a personality cult of Tommy
Sheridan. However, his presence was almost completely overlooked as he was
effectively upstaged by the antics of Rosie Kane and Colin Fox. Kane in
particular has apparently promised to bring "craziness" and "something
different" to the Parliament, and I'm afraid that the correspondent who
refers to "infantile antics" of "self-centred" people is targeting a very
vulnerable spot, and Sheridan and the leadership will need all their
political nous to ensure that there is sufficient discipline within the
ranks. Sheridan himself has matured into a very accomplished performer who
knows his constituency well but who can also reach out beyond, without in
the least selling out. His comrades should learn from him, lest the SSP's
credibility, very hard won, be thrown away by what is in reality sheer
narcissism. For that would be a bitter betrayal of the working class.


>From today's Herald letters page, 9 May 2003:

The dreadful woman who dared to wear jeans

I hear there are mutterings in the Scottish Parliament canteen (the
equivalent of the Westminster tearoom) about that dreadful woman, Rosie
Kane, who dared to wear jeans to the opening of the parliament.

Whatever next! We may even have MSPs who want to be representative of the
people who elected them.

I further understand, however, that most of these complaints came from the
women of the Labour Party: you know, the ones who dazzled us all with their
red suits or jackets or roses.

May I presume to give them all a bit of well-intentioned advice? First of
all, Rosie, keep on wearing your jeans. If it's good enough for the majority
of your electorate, it's good enough for the Scottish Parliament.

To the ladies of New Labour - grow up. You cannot reclaim socialism by
wearing red. You have to live, eat, and breathe socialism. Instead of
criticising Rosie Kane, why not learn by her example?

Norma Anderson.

WE have just seen how very rapidly gesture politics and promises to
introduce "madness and craziness" to the Scottish Parliament can degenerate
into puerile attention-seeking.

The problem with such a course of action is that the next cantrip must cause
an even greater stushie than the past one. After messages scrawled on the
palm of the hand and being sent to the back of the line for singing out of
turn, what comes next? Shall we hear anonymous humming round the debating
chamber; perhaps ink pellets will be flicked at speakers who offend the
Scottish Socialist sensibilities of Comrades Kane and Fox?

Who knows, we might even witness Jim Wallace's chair being pulled from under
him just as he is about to sit down or, in the spirit of political
ecumenism, it could quite easily be the chairs of Messrs McConnell,
McLetchie, or Swinney.

Such conduct very quickly ceases to be amusing. It seldom causes lasting
outrage or offence. It merely becomes tedious and lays those who have
decided to follow this path open to richly merited derision. The butts of
such derision then find it virtually impossible to be taken seriously when
the day finally dawns when they have something worthwhile to contribute to
the work of our parliament.

John W Elliott.

THE pathetic AmDram shenanigans of the SSP during the swearing in of the new
Holyrood intake got the party what it really wanted - namely their faces in
the papers - but we have to ask ourselves whether this sort of behaviour is
what we, the Scottish people, really want? I find it hard to believe that we
would wish other nations around the world to look upon our parliamentary
representatives with Biro scrawled all over their hands, dolled up like they
are off to a club, or singing tunelessly with an earring in.

If we were as opposed to the concept of monarchy as much as the SSP seems to
think, we would have voted for them and got rid of it. We could even have
voted for the SNP, which promised us a referendum on the future of the
monarchy in an independent Scotland; mind you, that was before it stopped
talking about an independent Scotland, and before the electorate ditched it
en masse.

The fact is that whether Scotland becomes a republic or not is far down the
list on most people's priorities behind better schools and hospitals,
employment, and education; the issue of Scottish republicanism only ever
seems to set the heather alight on the political fringes.

What was more disturbing was your editorial (May 8), which seemed to condone
these antics as a means of persuading that ever elusive tribe - "the
young" - to go out and vote.

While the SSP may have distinctly Orwellian policies, the Scottish
Parliament should not be transformed into a Big Brother of the Channel 4
variety, just so that more people will watch it.

It's time for Holyrood to be allowed to grow up - Wednesday's Carry On
Oath-swearing routine did not suggest that the SSP would play its part in
helping this maturation process. If these sort of antics continue, the SSP
will become a joke and will be treated as such come 2007.

Fraser Crawford.

Having just seen the infantile antics of some of our elected MSPs during the
swearing-in ceremony, between singing (?) and gesturing, I have only one
thing to say - may God help us - because these self-centred representatives
will not.

John Callaghan.

Several MSPs refused to swear allegiance to the crown, but no doubt are
willing to take the Queen's shilling and all the privileges that go with
being an elected member of parliament.

Tom Affleck.

HAS cutting-edge radical politics in Scotland finally found the ultimate
weapon in karaoke?

John Reynolds.

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