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MSP Edward Mountain says the Scottish Parliament is a 'pale imitation of the real thing' must improve on the 'sterile lecture' and four-minute speeches that 'kill debates' saying 'the majority of people in Scotland are not tuning in to watch the parliament. Who can blame them?'


By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Edward Mountain MSP pictured in the chamber of the Scottish parliament.
MSP Edward Mountain MSP pictured in the chamber of the Scottish parliament.

A HIGHLAND MSP has slammed the way the Scottish Parliament operates with “patsy” from the government back benches and hit out at how there is no real debate because instead of answers, politicians get “sterile lectures” and “political statements”.

Edward Mountain added that the parliament is now 22 years old and it must start to mature with its age, warning that “the majority of people in Scotland are not tuning in to watch the parliament. Who can blame them?”

Holyrood is notorious for predictable voting, that the whips wield too much power and party loyalty is only broken on extremely rare occasions, which some see as a disservice to the voters.

Mr Mountain made the call during a debate led by the standards, procedures and public appointments committee, which will be gathering evidence on how debating and scrutiny can be enhanced at Holyrood.

He said: “The sterile lecture is now the norm for the chamber. Four-minute speeches, with many members not taking interventions, it kills debates and that is why the majority of people in Scotland are not tuning in to watch the parliament. Who can blame them?

“When it comes to questions, Presiding Officer, and not the patsy ones raised from the government back benches, whoever gets an answer?

“Presiding Officer, this falls totally within the remit of your office to resolve and I implore you to drive this forward. Questions need answers, not political statements.

“And while this parliament may continue to function during the pandemic, it’s a pale imitation of the real thing. That’s not a good thing and frankly it weakens democracy and accountability.”

He added: “Our work here has a huge impact on our constituents and while this parliament might be 22 years of age, I don’t believe it is maturing well with age.

“The pandemic should have focused our minds on resolving the issues but progress has been painfully slow.”

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