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.


# Marian 2013-12-13 08:01
It never used to be like this before Lamont and Davidson came on the scene.

The simple answer is that the Presiding Officer should be taking a far stronger line by expelling and fining those who name call and generally misbehave disgracefully and unprofessionall y otherwise Holyrood will become a carbon copy of Westminster.
# John Souter 2013-12-13 08:56
The 'shame is all their's - their beloved establishment is on a shoogly peg - they know it and have no substantive argument in its defence so they rely on insult and hyperbole.

Pure theatre, badly scripted, poorly produced and directed.
# xyz 2013-12-13 08:59
Surely the presiding officer should be able to look at the evidence afterwards and force those spouting falsehoods to come back and apologies.

I noticed that the Tory leader when called up on her facile insulting of the First Minister pointedly apologised only to the Presiding Officer, not to the parliament, not to the First Minister. Puerile stuff.
# Aplinal 2013-12-13 09:46
I was going to make the same point. Neither Lamont or Davidson have apologised for their disgraceful behaviour and the PO did not press the point and insist that they categorically withdrew their remarks.

On reflection, I think it was a bad mistake to appoint Tricia Marwick as the PO. She has been far too lenient on the opposition MSPs as she obviously did not want to be seen to be 'supporting' the SNP government.

In my more "conspiratorial" moments, I think that the opposition are deliberately presenting a bad impression with the idea that viewers will see this pathetic group and think, "God, I won't vote for Independence, some of these numpties might get into power. What a disaster that would be for Scotland!"

Scotland deserves so much better than this.
# Breeks 2013-12-13 09:04
It's an old chestnut, but I think part of the blame lies in the parliament building itself which forfeits any sense of gravitas and importance in favour of gimmicks and poor design vocabulary. I just can't bring myself to like the place. The Dynamic Earth building just next door is a world away in terms of its design and sense of 'place'.

Without being unfair to the Presiding Officer, (let's face it, it's the MSP's putting her in the difficult position), the low standard of debate and cheap politics requires I think someone of exceptional personal authority and presence as Presiding Officer who can clamp down on the theatrical playing to the gallery.

The parliament itself is still finding its feet, as a Nation we re still lacking confidence experimenting with how we govern ourselves. We can do it much better than this.
# Mac 2013-12-13 09:18
Both Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamont are trying to outdo each other on who can contort and twist their faces in mock anger at the weekly stairheid rammy, or FMQs as it is known.

The Presiding Officer has been very slow in trying to correct and bring an end to this unruly behaviour. That reflects badly on Tricia Marwick.

We can only hope for the parliament's sake Ms Marwick carries through her threat to bring an end to all this nonsense.
# H Scott 2013-12-13 09:21
The presiding Officer is in a difficult position. As an SNP MSP, if she came down too heavily on opposition MSPs it would be trumpeted as an anti-democratic attack on the opposition and the media would have a field day.
In any case, I think it lowers the standing of the opposition people and parties concerned rather than parliament as an institution.
# hektorsmum 2013-12-13 09:22
I have felt for some time that the Presiding Officer had not got to grips with the job. Lamont, Baillie as well as Davidson and Rennie have been allowed full reign to insult not only Alex Salmond but the position of First Minister. Time they were all made to apologise to Parliament and to the people who have elected them to their position.
Heaven help us if any of them made it to the top job, they are dire as supporting players,
# Macart 2013-12-13 09:40
Not fit for purpose and not fit to represent their constituents. They bring Scottish politics into disrepute and shame their wards. They aren't holding a government to account they are trying to deliberately destabilise a government that has protected its electorate from the worst excesses of Westminster austerity cuts.

As usual party before people. These are the people that await top positions should a no vote carry the day. Not a very attractive prospect. Do we really want or deserve Commons 2.0?
# xyz 2013-12-13 10:32
They are all so impolite those London proxies.

How about giving a set time for questions and no time limit for answering. They might learn to construct sensible questions rather than tedious diatribes.
# John MacIntyre OBE 2013-12-13 10:36
The article is wrong in its assertion about Ruth Davidson's "trailing the lie that Ireland's European Minister had backed claims that a newly independent Scotland would somehow be forced to leave the EU."

[Admin - In her opening statement, Ruth Davidson said:

"Two weeks ago the Prime Minister of Spain stated that an independent Scotland would join the same queue as everybody else to get into the EU, echoing the words of the Commission President and the Foreign Ministers of Spain, Ireland, Latvia and the Czech Republic."

The Foreign Minister of Ireland, Lucinda Creighton, made no such claim.

This poster will have known exactly what Ruth Davidson said and thus we have concluded his or her post was a deliberate attempt to deceive. This is an insisdious form of trolling and is not welcome on this site.

The account of this poster has now been blocked.]
# Abulhaq 2013-12-13 12:56
It is interesting that on the question of Scotland and the EU the member state with the real clout, ie Germany, has had nothing to say on the matter. A lot of noise on the subject signifying zilch. Wer ist diese Ruth Davidson?
# HistoryPHD 2013-12-13 15:11
This would be the same Linda Creighton who subsequently clarified her often quoted comments, making it perfectly plain to Nicola Sturgeon that she supported the SNP's proposed timescale, and saw no impediments to Scotland being welcomed into the EU. A complaint about how the BBC handled that interview and failed to report her subsequent clarification will be out shortly.

A little research reveals that a whole range of foreign ministers and European legal scholars support the Scottish government's position. Equally, there are those who have cast doubt on it. There is no legal or political consensus, quite rightly because no-one will show their hand until the situation arises. Rajoy was asked repeatedly whether he'd veto a Scottish accession and he refused to answer. The only clarity there can be before the referendum is on the legal position, yet the UK government refuse to do this and therefore ensure what could be certain and settled is left open to conjecture.
# Angus 2013-12-13 15:35
Aye I know, all that paper work and forms to fill out make me scared and affraid, it's the same with you Sir John?
# Diabloandco 2013-12-14 09:43
Delighted though I am that you have blocked this poster - you have an extra "s " in " insidious"! and that particular poster will no doubt use it agin' you during his prolific interference on the Herald website.
# Angry_Weegie 2013-12-13 10:38
I wrote to the PO last year about the pathetic childish behaviour of the opposition MSPs (party leaders in particular) and got back a bland response that "steps had been taken". Unfortunately, as many have said, things have just got worse.

Much as I hate to say it, the level of debate at FMQ has been now sunk below that of PMQ at Westminster, a problem caused by having third rate opposition MSPs, promoted way beyond their abilities.

I appreciate the point of the PO being accused of bias, but something has to be done to hold MSPs to account for the lies and the playground behaviour.
# Rafiki 2013-12-13 10:52
The game plan for the Opposition is to denigrate Alex Salmond, as they perceive that as the best way to stop the Independence Movement. During the Dunfermline I was told twice that Alex Salmond was a liar;when I asked for specific reasons there wwas no response.

I also think that culprits in this charade should be made to apologise - not what either Davidson or Lamont did - or be debarred from the Chamber.

Alternatively the paper shield of Parliamentary privilege should be torn up.
# HistoryPHD 2013-12-13 11:13
Davidson's line of attack was crazy. When you represent a party that has within its power the ability to clear up the EU issue once and for all, by putting the specific scenario to the EC and getting their legal opinion, why on earth do you need to trouble yourself with what some minor foreign ministers say? Very bad judgement in my opinion, only compounded by her misrepresentati ons on the newsnet letter and the pinoccchio howler which was childish. Davidson is out of her depth.

As for drama queen JLo and her desk-thumping lackeys, how Labour has fallen since the days of Donald Dewar. It is probably a blessing that he isn't alive to see the party he cherished in such a lamentable state. That wasn't her worst effort yesterday, but she does ramble on and on before getting to her 'question'. That needs to be cracked down on more, but the PO is too nice for her own good. Someone needs to take JLo and Ruth to task. WR is much more concise, if just as annoying.
# call me dave 2013-12-13 11:48
The labour argument seemed at first to be based on firm ground, a very slight rise in the class sizes, not much but something to carp about.
It transpired that the fall in the number of teachers contributing to the problem across the whole of Scotland, about 170+, is matched almost exactly by the number of teachers let go by Glasgow City Council, a labour stronghold.

Lamont's argument suddenly becomes very weak, is this a coincidence, Aye Right!

Here's another gift to the YES side.

Sorry should have left you the link to the committee meeting.
# Massacre1965 2013-12-13 14:19
This is painful viewing - Mr Carmichael gives yet another cringeworthy performance.

He appears to have no grasp of this subject.
# RTP 2013-12-13 14:44
Quoting Massacre1965:
This is painful viewing - Mr Carmichael gives yet another cringeworthy performance.

He appears to have no grasp of this subject.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie told the Scottish secretary it was her understanding, based on comments from Chief Treasury Minister Danny Alexander, that the UK government would not try to claw back money or stand in the way of the Scottish government if it put £50 million into mitigation of the so-called bedroom tax.Carmichael said this was true.
Can anyone in the Scottish Government confirm this or is this a bit of a stich up between Lab and Alexander.
# andygm 2013-12-13 18:13
If true, it effectively means that Westminster is calling on Scotland to spend money it doesn't have to support an area of government (Welfare) over which it has no powers.
# .Scot 2013-12-13 13:28
It's very odd indeed that the group ToriesTogether, attack Scotland's request to deal with Europe as equals whilst refusing to fulfil the responsibility of their position as rulers by asking the EU, the burning question; “Will independent Scots be allowed to continue as members of the EU?".
# proudscot 2013-12-13 13:37
I agree OBE that Lucinda Creighton did indeed say in her letter that application for EU membership CAN be a lengthy process (my emphasis). However, Ruth Davidson did not then quote Ms Creighton's qualification of this, when she added that she regarded the Scottish Government's estimation of an 18 months negotiation period as being "reasonable".

However, what Ruth Davidson was reprimanded for was the gratuitous and undeserved insult she aimed at the First Minister, when she referred to him as "Pinocchio". Especially when she herself kept repeating the falsehood that he had "Googled" a letter from the Internet on the subject of EU membership, when in fact the FM received the said letter from one of those who run this website!
# kenneth_clark336 2013-12-13 14:29
This whole nonsense can be laid at the BBC's door. Their manipulation of the Irish minister's interview still hasn't been addressed, allowing Davidson to get away with yesterday's shocking display.

[Admin - Remainder of comment removed because it is inaccurate.]
# jamaisarriere 2013-12-13 14:31
Hopefully next week, after the point made about taking too long to ask questions from the Opposition party leaders, there won't be time for them to go off ranting and throwing personal insults.

Remember this is the only occasion where Lamont, Davidson & Rennie get a free "kick" at the FM, and, despite the noise made by their supporters, they rarely if ever land a blow. They are trying to bring the FM down to their level, but most people can see they are only lowering themselves.

Rather than complaining and demanding withdrawals of insults, people should be more exercised about whether to vote for people like that in the first place.
# Robert Louis 2013-12-13 16:07
I have to say, this article hits the nail squarely on the head.

At what point will action be taken? Whether the presiding officer is from the current Governing party or not, it is wholly incumbent upon him/her to put a stop to this rot, which has been allowed to infect the chamber.

It only takes a cursory glance at proceedings in Westminster, to see, that despite the noise and hullabaloo, such abusive terminology would not be tolerated for one second by the speaker. I expect no less from the presiding officer in the Scottish Parliament.
# RTP 2013-12-13 16:35
Herman Van Rompuy.Scottish independence: An independent Scotland would find itself outside the EU and forced to reapply to join, the head of the European Council has indicated.

If this is the case will R Davidson now get on to her boss get it clarified,what are they afraid of.
Davidson will not even answer emails one of which I sent April 27,2012.
# chicmac 2013-12-13 17:24
Is this a new statement or a regurgitation of the one made last year?

There is nothing in the post here to indicate if there has been any change on the salient point. Namely that Scotland, from within the UK and the EU will have 18 months to negotiate before we become independent.

Unless there is some indication that following a Yes vote Scotland will not be allowed to negotiate with the EU until it is independent then I see no change from before. And there is nothing to indicate this from the above.
# Aplinal 2013-12-13 20:44
No he hasn't. The press release is EXPLICITLY about Catalonia.
# ds12 2013-12-13 17:14
I've contacted Mr Van Rumpoy

I'm pretty sure I'll get a clear and concise response that will clear all this up.
# chicmac 2013-12-13 17:39
Hope you spelled his name right. :)
# ds12 2013-12-13 18:04
Quoting chicmac:
Hope you spelled his name right. :)

When he gets our politics right I'll spell his name right.
# taimoshan 2013-12-13 17:24
I agree that the behaviour of Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson is disgusting and an affront to democracy - how is it in God's name that two polls show Labour have caught up with the SNP?
# hiorta 2013-12-13 17:27
Could it be that the accusations of the Opposition MSPs are no more than desperate attempts to divert attention to political trivia and away from discussion of referendum matters?
# gus1940 2013-12-13 17:33
I used to look forward to FMQs - Not any longer.

It's the same infantile nonsense every week from Lamont and Davidson with them going through similar pre-scripted rubbish teed up for them in advance by The BBC and MSM with the added bonus of Lamont's feeble attempts at jokes.

Willie Rennie isn't too bad and I get the feeling that off stage Eck and he have quite a good relationship.

I agree that The PO is in an awkward position risking being accused of favouring her own party if she really stuck it to the ooposition MSPs for their outrageous behaviour.
# Hibernian 2013-12-13 17:48
At a time when people are suffering thanks to cuts and low pay we have an elected parliament that self indulges in back stabbing and cat calling and has the brass neck to call it debate. What an embarrassment, but then again this what you get when you elect the third division of candidates from the parties represented
# MacSenex 2013-12-13 20:19
If I were AS I would answer the opposition leaders' questions with one word answers on the basis that he wishes more MSPs to be given the opportunity to ask questions within the half hour slot.
# tartanpigsy 2013-12-13 23:50
As someone enjoying being outside the 'bubble' for a month can I briefly say, before continuing my 'break' from the nonsense we are up against, that all the major protagonists know exactly what they're doing, which is, creating TV soundbites to mislead the public.
None of them have any respect for the positions they are in, or the sanctity of the Scottish Parliament. They deliberately denigrate it, and FMQ's as a way of reducing the importance/ weight of the independence debate.

None of these people deserve a second chance after a Yes vote next year, because none of them care one iota for the well being of their constituents or, more generally the people who live, work and are our country at this moment in time.

Shame on every one of them.
# Diabloandco 2013-12-14 07:08
Shame indeed ! Might I suggest that everyone contacts MSPs and voice this in full?

Goodness knows why the likes of Malcolm Chisolm puts up with being linked to the insulting drivel from his
" better".

I cannot believe that either of the two " ladies" would be able to deal with the incessant insulting attacks without heading straight to the media to make an overlong ,tearful complaint - which would of course be broadcast to the nation .
# Breeks 2013-12-14 08:33
Lamont, Davidson, Baillie, Curran, make a massive contribution to the low turnouts we have at election time. A massive section of our society are completely switched off by political matters, and the perception of MP's and MSP's is so bad that genuine leaders and people of true stature want nothing to do with mainstream politics.
The result is all parties have to choose candidates of extremely limited caliber, and certain members of unionist parties look down on the Scottish parliament as a hurdle to be negotiated in their Westminster career path.

I look forward to a Scottish Parliament purged of all such 'distractions' and much greater protection afforded to Scotland's primary interests. Perhaps then we might begin to built a more constructive appreciation of our government, and start to recruit and elect people of infinitely greater integrity and character.

Every aspect of Holyrood government is currently tainted by Westminster.
# staypos+ve 2013-12-14 08:55
We have to recognise that just as Lamont and Davidson represent the poorest worst leadership from Slab and Cons in the Scottish Parliament so to does Tricia Marwick as Presciding Officer I'm afraid she isn't near to the calibre of David Steel George Reid or Alex Fergusson. They commanded respect Tricia just isn't in their league. The leaders of Slab and Cons are exploiting her weakness to undermine trust in the institution. Measures to re-establish credibility to this vital role need to happen soon. I will write my local SNP MSP .
# brusque 2013-12-14 12:28
Perhaps it is time for someone to tell that bunch of third/fourth stringers on the Labour/Tory/LibDem benches at Holyrood that their respective Leaders (the real ones that is) have ZERO interest in what happens to any of them in the event of a YES vote.
But! what happens to the "Scottish" contingent if it is a NO vote? Westminster may carry out their threat to recall the powers which were afforded to Holyrood. Inconceivable that they would do so?, it was also inconceivable that they would break up the NHS and run Welfare and Benefits as a "PoorHouse".
Cameron/Clegg and Milliband do not give a toss for Scottish colleagues heartbeat!! Lamont, Baillie, och the entire Labour benches, Davidson and Rennie will ever find work -I don't think Johann Lamont or Iain Grey would have a snowballs of being offered a teaching job! If they imagine their Westminster colleagues give a flying one what happens to them, maybe it's time it was spelled out for them.
# kenneth_clark336 2013-12-14 17:28
The ongoing mockery of the "google" letter will backfire just as surely as the "nasty nat" smears have. Curiosity will be aroused. My own friends' challenges have been met by my insistence that they look for themselves. Once on they are hooked, getting much needed balance and thankfully, some humour, which helps to leaven the debate. Let Lamont and Davidson mock all they like. The more interest they arouse, the more opportunities they give me to direct people to sites such as this.

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