Holyrood’s pipsqueak politicians need to get a grip…and grow up
IN the Monty Python classic Life of Brian, members of the People’s Front of Judea spend more time bickering among themselves than fighting the Romans. Stan wants to have babies because ‘it’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them’, only to be told by Reg: ‘You can’t have babies!’
Offended, Stan tells his friend: ‘Don’t you oppress me!’, while Reg patiently explains that he is not oppressing him — it’s just that Stan does not have a womb.
As a satire of right-on attitudes it worked well, foreshadowing the rise of political correctness — and indeed the Corbynistas, turning Labour into a modern-day version of the People’s Front of Judea.
Scotland had its own dose of such student union politics last week when Donald Trump was portrayed by our parliamentarians as something akin to the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse.
Among those shrieking in horror was the Scottish Greens’ co-convener Patrick Harvie, who has never won a constituency vote and depends entirely on the proportional representation ‘list’ system for his Holyrood seat.
He said Mr Trump was ‘deluded’ and an ‘extremist’ — but bear in mind that Mr Harvie wants to shut down all Catholic schools and has called for an economic and cultural boycott of the ‘racist apartheid’ state of Israel.
The Green MSP also denounced Mr Trump as a ‘racist, sexist bully’ who is not ‘welcome in Scotland’, despite his business interests here and of course his new status as leader of the free world.
You may be the world’s most powerful politician but, as Stan might say, ‘don’t you oppress me!’
The preoccupations of Mr Harvie are about as far removed from the lives of most voters as it is possible to be — yet he is fairly typical of our low-calibre law-makers.
Lacking hinterland, these career politicians have hijacked Holyrood for their own virtue-signalling displays of political correctness — where each strives to be more morally outraged than their colleagues.
Nicola Sturgeon’s initial response to Mr Trump’s victory was that she was ‘not prepared to be a politician that maintains a diplomatic silence in the face of attitudes of racism, sexism, misogyny or intolerance of any kind’. No matter that ‘diplomatic silence’ is often part of the job of being a true leader; as are principled pragmatism, setting aside old grudges and concentrating on the promotion of your country’s future interests.
Miss Sturgeon eventually got round to congratulating Mr Trump, welcoming his pledge to try to unite the US after a ‘divisive’ campaign — a statement dripping in irony given the SNP’s devotion to fomenting division at every turn.
This is a party that supposedly prides itself on realpolitik and strategic political manoeuvring but has managed to alienate a man who — whatever we think of him — is now in a position of immense power and influence.
Alex Salmond now likes to paint himself as Mr Trump’s nemesis but once fawned over him, desperate for his friendship, before the relationship turned sour following a row over wind farms.
Embarrassingly for Mr Salmond, Mr Trump later published evidence that his administration had privately pleaded with the tycoon to voice public support for the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
All of which serves to underline the opportunism and hypocrisy of the Nationalists as they decry Mr Trump as a threat to civilised society in increasingly hysterical tones.
Kezia Dugdale, whose unsuitability for the job of leading Scottish Labour becomes more painfully evident by the day, is fast becoming Holyrood’s virtue signaller-in-chief. Despite failing at every turn to hold the SNP to account, and presiding over the virtual meltdown of the party, she found time to travel to the US to campaign for Hillary Clinton (who was at that time subject to an FBI probe into her emails).
Labour was responsible for the ill-fated ‘Scotland For HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]’ campaign. Always quick to embrace a lost cause, the Lib Dems were keen to offer support, sending along MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton to a photocall.
Miss Dugdale was ‘heart- broken’ by Mr Trump’s win and said she ‘felt the same sense of despair that I did in the early hours of June 24’, the day after the UK voted for Brexit.
Of course, during the EU referendum, Holyrood’s student union politics came to the fore again, with its complete inability to represent the deep divisions in Scottish society.
There was a crippling consensus in the chamber on the issue of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU which failed to reflect the fact two out of five Scots favoured Brexit (though we now know up to six Nationalist MSPs backed a Leave vote).
To be fair to them, our MSPs have far more pressing business to be getting on with.
Mr Harvie’s colleague Ross Greer, Holyrood’s youngest-ever MSP, recently lodged a Scottish parliament motion which ‘congratulates 17-year-old Kaelin Farnish on successfully campaigning to be given the option of opening a bank account under a non-binary gender identity’.
(For all his undoubted compassion, it is worth remembering that Mr Greer has also publicly supported Palestinian terror group Hamas, prompting deep unease among the Jewish community.)
Could there be any more persuasive evidence of the ‘disconnect’ between our political class and the people they are supposed to represent than Mr Greer’s call for a ‘gender-inclusive approach to… customer service and organisational culture?’
Stan would have approved — but the rest of us are left scratching our heads.
In 2009, Nationalist MSP Bill Wilson suggested that supermarkets should be forced to re-label turnips, potatoes and blackberries as tumshies, tatties and brambles to promote the Scots language.
Their credentials on such issues are impeccable but ask MSPs about the decline of our state education and health systems, childhood illiteracy, disintegrating roads and abysmal railways, and the silence is deafening. Could it be that it is simply easier to specialise in trivialities than the business of listening to public concern over such matters as the chaotic mismanagement of the single police force or rising violent and sexual crime?
The Scottish journalist Iain Martin spoke to a New Yorker about Mr Trump’s victory last week and his explanation was deeply telling.
The man — Nick — said people were worried about what their children were going to do for a living and the fact that the companies they work for ‘won’t offer them anything like security’ — worries common to most of us in the UK.
But much of the US media and political establishment simply did not listen to them. Instead Nick said they focused on ‘transgender restrooms, transgender bathrooms’.
There were ‘crazy, angry, entitled, spoilt people shouting on your TV about justice and trigger warnings [warnings of potentially offensive content in university courses] and transgender stuff and hating America and how bad the country is when they’ve no idea what life is really about’.
These failures, Nick said, fuelled Trump’s victory because he deplored these muddled priorities as much as those who felt betrayed by a political system that failed to acknowledge their plight.
But the problem Nick has identified is just as visible in Scotland — and is regularly showcased at the Scottish parliament.
For that reason, it is time for the pygmy politicians who smugly shelter from the real concerns of voters in the politically correct bubble that envelops Holyrood to go back to the students’ union.