Me? I do like a bit of dignity in a parliament. Sort of lends it credibility. I know it can hide some nasties, like hypocrisy and, erm, not always getting your expenses claims right. But democracy, representing us, making laws and all that stuff is quite important.
That’s why I find the parade of SNP buffoonery at today’s swearing in of the new session at Holyrood so depressing.
I have nothing against smart, affirmative clothes that make a positive statement. But why can’t SNP members just stop at that?
Some not being fluent in English have sought to take the oath or make their affirmation in Scots or the Doric (none in Shetland dialect yet as far as I know) but seem to have been thwarted by the lack of a written translation. Last time round un des nos membres’list’ du Nord Est (Christian, un francais, not his religious allegiance) sought to give his spiel in French. I don’t know if anyone’s tried anything exotic this time. I did hear that Humza Yousaf was going to give it a go in Punjabi or Urdu but that could just be a malicious rumour [Ed. – no it isn’t, he did it in Urdu].
Photos of Humza at the swearing in show him in full Highland rig (I don’t know what clan he claims allegiance to) although he seems to be wearing a T-shirt under his yellow tie. Others seem to have an assortment of metal and plastic badges in their lapels to lend further dignity to the occasion.
Humza’s tie is yellow of course because, tediously, that’s the SNP colour and you have to trick yourself out in symbols of your party affiliation for parliament, don’t you? Apart from splashes of that, the photos I’ve seen so far suggest that most (all?) of the SNPers are sporting white roses. Ah yes, the good old white rose of Scotland, so (un)memorably worn by the SNP MPs last year at the Westminster equivalent, although their gesture was rather blunted by the revelation that they were in fact English roses. Ouch.
The white rose became one of the SNP’s many emblems after Hugh Macdiarmid, nationalist poet with communistic tendencies, wrote his short poem The Little White Rose. It was Macdiarmid in World War Two who also penned:
Now when London is threatened
With devastation from the air
I realise, horror atrophying me,
That I hardly care.
I suspect some of the current Holyrood contingent would probably still feel the same today. (The Ahdinnaeken blog rightly took the mickey out of the fabulous 56 for their gesture politics. It’s worth a read)
The point of my reaction is that the SNP’s behaviour, not for the first time, reduces what should be a solemn moment to the spectacle of a fashion parade or a circus. Still, if they treat the parliament they wanted so much as a sort of toy town that’s what it’ll become.
I’m reminded of the time my first daughter went up to secondary school. The head teacher was a bit of a martinet (thank God). He addressed the assembled parents of nervous P7s thus – ‘School is a place of work and learning. It is a serious business and so we require the children to dress seriously in school uniform.’ I wish he’d been at the induction session for MSPs the other day. He’d have told the children at Holyrood Academy a thing or two.
Footnote: to share the honours, I should also mention 21 year old Ross Greer of the Greens, who seemed to think it necessary to raise his fist when he affirmed (I assume he wouldn’t have brought himself to take an oath) for all the world as if he was a first-year student on a demo.