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So what? So this . . .

Brian Taylor | 15:20 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about time.

From his special theory of relativity, many deduce that forward time travel is theoretically possible.

Myself, I cherish his observation that "the only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."

Holyrood seems determined to prove him wrong.

Two significant Bills entered final stage consideration this week.

After that, they are ready to enter the criminal and civil law of Scotland. Which, I hope you might agree, matters.

Yet yesterday we had speeches on key amendments reduced to one minute each as the Presiding Officer tried to get through stage three consideration of the Criminal Justice Bill in the allotted single day.

Likely defeat

Today was worse. Umpteen amendments to the Crofting Bill were read out rapid fire as time pressed. Inevitably, there was a slip-up.

On an Opposition amendment, Roseanna Cunningham lodged an objection by saying: "No."

This would have prompted a formal division and the likely defeat of said amendment.

Trish Godman in the chair didn't hear her, declared the amendment carried and moved to the next item.

Uproar. The clerk - and several MSPs - insisted they had heard the minister lodge her objection.

The deputy presiding officer noted that, in accordance with standing orders, it was what she heard that counted. And she had heard nothing.

As the commotion grew, Bruce Crawford, the wise and sensible minister for parliamentary business, urged suspension in order to sort the issue.

Eventually, he got his way.

Proceedings resumed after five minutes - and moved to next business without any reference to the row nor any attempt to explain to the bemused public.

New register

I understand the controversy was resolved as follows. The contentious Labour amendment (number 93, if you're still following this) was designed to insist upon a further affirmative resolution before part two of the Bill takes effect.

Part Two deals with a proposed new register for crofting. Labour dislikes the plan and, in effect, was seeking to thwart it or, at least, facilitate second thoughts.

My belief is that Mr Crawford secured agreement from others that they would permit the new register to go ahead, on affirmation.

Job done, row over.

So what, I hear you asking? So this. You may not regard the crofting legislation as core to your everyday concerns.

But it is critically important to the economy of parts of our nation.

Is it right that time for final decisions on this legislation is so truncated that the amendments have to be read out at the speed of a bingo caller?

Granting leeway

Ditto the Criminal Justice Bill and its amendments. Not much at stake here. Just penal policy, the rules on jury trial, the detention of children, the retention of DNA and action on knife crime.

More on timing. Once again today so much leeway was granted to - or taken by - the front benches to ask questions of the first minister that there was virtually no opportunity for back benchers to get a word in.

Annabel Goldie essayed an oblique reference to the magnificent "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" (so long and thanks for all the fish) when she suggested the FM had underplayed the row over The Gathering.

She implied that he had been dismissive of those contractors left out of pocket, including hospitality suppliers, and had, in effect, told them: "So long and thanks for the canapés."

Perhaps our MSPs are seeking to live in accordance with another line from the late, great Douglas Adams when he opined: "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

Comments

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  • 1. At 3:42pm on 01 Jul 2010, Addicted to Joob-Joobs wrote:


    These are undoubtedly important matters to the fabric of our nation, Brian.

    You have to wonder how all that business was meant to be dealt with in the days before - or in the minds of those who opposed - devolution??!

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  • 2. At 3:44pm on 01 Jul 2010, Phil_Anthropponent wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 3:52pm on 01 Jul 2010, Phil_Anthropponent wrote:

    I'm sick fed up of MSPs trying to get clever with quotes from people with far more intllect than they will ever hope to have. That goes for you too Brian. If I want to watch comedy I'll watch it. If I want to catch up on my physics I'll read a Brief history of Time or something. Holly(w)rood should not be a comical puppet show.

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  • 4. At 3:52pm on 01 Jul 2010, minuend wrote:

    Quote, "Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about time. From his special theory of relativity, many deduce that forward time travel is theoretically possible."

    Utter nonsense - the special theory of relativity is all to do with mass/energy equivalence - hence e=mc^2 - hence the atomic bomb.

    Now if you said Einsten's general theory of relativity well of course that is a different matter - twins paradox and all that.

    If you added in String theory, well how long is a piece of string compared to crofting legislation passing thru Holyrood? Somehow I feel such a discussion would end up in a black hole.

    Science lesson over.

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  • 5. At 3:55pm on 01 Jul 2010, Saltire Won wrote:


    One increasiingly wonders at this business of closing off comments within hours of a new thread being posted - as it can only have the very negative effect of stifling the debate, and ultimately stifling the entire blog.

    But then, since the views freely expressed here have long tended to demonstrate opinions of a healthy and developing pro-independence persuasion, perhaps a systematic downgrading the blog's profile and popularity is the intended result?

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  • 6. At 3:55pm on 01 Jul 2010, Harry Stottle wrote:

    'Should Albert Einstein have been an MSP?'

    I thought he was.

    The leader of the opposition labour party keeps coming away with numbers that defy all laws of common sense.

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  • 7. At 4:14pm on 01 Jul 2010, HughEdinburgh wrote:

    And what about the tram firm spending over a million on consultants in the last 3 months to cover the latest legal problems with the contractors?

    And what about the overall cost of £600 million (and counting) of the trams?

    And what about the rip-off costs of PFI/PPP?

    And what about the Labour running of the Scottish Parliament building project - original estimate £40 million, final price £450 million?

    And what about Jim Murphy overspending his budget by £10 million, just before he was booted out of his job?

    And what about the London Olympics - how many billions will that cost?

    If the opposition parties are worried about £180K, then surely they should be OUTRAGED by these massive amounts that they have cost the public purse?

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  • 8. At 4:18pm on 01 Jul 2010, HughEdinburgh wrote:

    Brian,

    I think you'll find that "forward" time travel is happening as we speak, and indeed all the time.

    Go to bed at night, and magically when you waken up in the morning you'll find that the clock has jumped by 7 or 8 hours - that's forward time travel.

    Surely you meant to say "backwards" time travel?

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  • 9. At 5:20pm on 01 Jul 2010, bmc875 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 5:53pm on 01 Jul 2010, Andrew Dundas wrote:

    Was this EVER a serious parliament? Or could this brood ever become a serious parliament?

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  • 11. At 6:19pm on 01 Jul 2010, eye_write wrote:

    Einstein did know a thing or two:

    "If you want your child to be bright, read them a fairytale; if you want them to become a genius, read them some more fairytales..."
    Albert Einsein

    Scottish Book Trust has launched "Bookbug", their early years reading promoting initiative.

    Bookbug has been released into the wild!

    It's great!

    "Love of reading is more important in academic achievement than a child's social or economic background..."
    Reading for Change, OECD

    The salient point though is this: This is a Scottish initiative, now separate from the "BookStart Bear" one elsewhere in UK, though it was previously part of it. Our new Bookbug, a seemingly irrelevant outposting of the BookStart in the UK regime no more, then interminably frustrated, I shouldn't wonder, is now autonomous!

    Will it fail? Remain the same? Or go from strength to strength?
    I'll leave you to form your opinion. But I'm certain I know...proves a point, I think.

    And CONGRATULATIONS to all staff involved! My guess, it was a hard won, sair fecht, not inconsiderable, and not insignificant, and definitely critical, achievement. Well done.

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  • 12. At 6:32pm on 01 Jul 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    Yes these bills are all very interesting for what they concern but they are also important because Labour could't kill them off. Indeed today Labour was so desparate to score some points off the FM that they quoted almost every policy the SNP have had. Sadly for Labour Iain Gray failed miserably to even get a near miss.

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  • 13. At 6:33pm on 01 Jul 2010, ForteanJo wrote:

    #10 - "Was this EVER a serious parliament? Or could this brood ever become a serious parliament? "

    Not while BT & cco continue to allow the opposition to spout nonsense without being held to account. But perhaps that's the whole idea.

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  • 14. At 6:47pm on 01 Jul 2010, eye_write wrote:

    "number 93, if you're still following this"

    Not really, Brian...
    (I'm sitting doon til yer hurry gangs by.)

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  • 15. At 7:01pm on 01 Jul 2010, bmc875 wrote:

    9. bmc875

    Steady now! Don't mention 'that' document.

    PS. Just when do I get the e-mail from you telling me which house rule I have broken? Was it 'that' document or was it my question about your journalistic prowess.

    And before you consign this one to the abyss too, there are at least 3 other similar criticisms on this blog so far!

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  • 16. At 11:26pm on 01 Jul 2010, Robin wrote:

    ' Perhaps our MSPs are seeking to live in accordance with another line from the late, great Douglas Adams when he opined: "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." '

    And, after that, no doubt next time there's a suspiciously long gap between your blogs, you'll be labelled as "Missing, presumed fed"...

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  • 17. At 00:16am on 02 Jul 2010, eye_write wrote:

    "Blogs of sharney dubs" 8-)

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  • 18. At 06:39am on 02 Jul 2010, Ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    Is this a Norwegian Blue Blog ? Pining for the Fiords ?

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  • 19. At 07:37am on 02 Jul 2010, soosider wrote:

    #18 they certainly seem to have killed this blog stone dead, now how could that have happened.
    Closing blog after 24 hours
    No blog for days at a time
    Moderation taking several hours
    Topics often ignoring big story of the day

    yep that seems to have done it.

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  • 20. At 12:29pm on 02 Jul 2010, U14541110 wrote:

    This blog is wonderful, the perfect way to unwind and reduce the stress levels. Mr Taylor's wonderful prose is a testament to his education and I for one applaud the decision to avoid the more contentious issues around Scottish politics, who wants to be burdened with budget surpluses and oil discoveries.


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  • 21. At 12:39pm on 02 Jul 2010, It wisnae me wrote:

    I thought that Holyrood was supposed to be an ultra-modern Parliament - none of old-style trudging through lobbies, rather the pressing of a button from the Member's 'desk'.

    Why was it not possible for Ms Cunningham's objection to be raised in a non-verbal manner?

    As to what actually occurred, if the Deputy Presiding Officer's determination was correct, then the offending Standing Order (claiming infallible hearing on the part of the PO/DPO) should be replaced; if her determination was flawed, then she should be replaced!

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  • 22. At 1:10pm on 02 Jul 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    #7
    And what about the tram firm spending over a million on consultants in the last 3 months to cover the latest legal problems with the contractors?

    And what about the overall cost of £600 million (and counting) of the trams?
    -------------------------------
    But that is just to be paid by Edinburgh Council Tax payers! Not a problem for anyone else! Happy bussing!

    And when you speak about spending debacles you could mention the extra teachers trained by the previous SNP education secretary who now can't get jobs because they just couldn't implement smaller class sizes and then wondered why. Duh!!

    Or the dosh wasted just having a 'national conversation' about something that only the SNP wanted to speak about! You could have all went to the pub instead and had a 'gathering' with yourselves!

    Or the policy debacle that is the concordat between the SG and Local Authorities that allows each to blame the other for the failure to implement policies and none to take the responsibility.

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  • 23. At 3:55pm on 02 Jul 2010, Diabloandco wrote:

    What is a political editor for?

    You are right Doc , avoidance of all things even vaguely contentious - even in support of his own protestations of having " seen" the document.
    Definitely much more fun avoiding politics!

    Could someone at the BBBC tell me why an erstwhile Labour council candidate is presenting the Politics Scotland thingy?

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  • 24. At 4:27pm on 02 Jul 2010, Roll_On_2011 wrote:


    Brian I thought I would get this in before you shut shop for the weekend.

    Since May 2007 the Northern contingency of the NuLabour Party have been trying to turn a ‘pigs ear into a silk purse‘ and have failed miserably with Elmer Fudd. But alas, Brian, were they have failed you have succeeded with this blog.

    Toodleoo the noo.

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  • 25. At 5:13pm on 02 Jul 2010, bmc875 wrote:

    15. bmc875
    Due to a technical issue, The BBC Moderation system failed to give me an automatic e-mail.


    Received today from the BBC.
    "Having looked at the moderation history of your post it appears that
    your post was removed as it questioned the journalistic ability of the
    blogger and so was removed as being potentially defamatory."

    Moi! (Give me even more strength!!)

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  • 26. At 6:41pm on 02 Jul 2010, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    20. Doc Leaves lol, got in one.

    Couthy, undemanding, gently unionist. I can just see Brian pootling along the road in his car after a hard day at Holyrood, some nice classical music on the CD, a poetry anthology on the passenger seat and a sign in the back window saying "I'd rather be watching United" :O)

    After 30 years of covering the wonder that is "Scottish" Labour I can't really say I blame him.





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  • 27. At 8:37pm on 02 Jul 2010, oldnat wrote:

    22. Rob04
    "And when you speak about spending debacles you could mention the extra teachers trained by the previous SNP education secretary who now can't get jobs because they just couldn't implement smaller class sizes and then wondered why. Duh!!

    Or the dosh wasted just having a 'national conversation' about something that only the SNP wanted to speak about! You could have all went to the pub instead and had a 'gathering' with yourselves!

    Or the policy debacle that is the concordat between the SG and Local Authorities that allows each to blame the other for the failure to implement policies and none to take the responsibility.
    "

    Half Time - and a fabulous goal from Ghana! - so I have time to reply.

    Training of teachers - This is actually hugely difficult to predict, and over/under supply of teachers has been common under every Government.

    National Conversation - Reasonable to raise the issue, don't you think? Salmond is obviously right that "The centre of gravity in Scottish politics is clearly currently not independence." Would it have been but for the world economic crisis? Who knows? As it is, the constitutional question as to what powers Scotland should have over its own affairs is still vibrant. That actually is the "National Conversation".

    Concordat - Two ways of looking at the relationship between National and Local Government. 1. Micro-manage from the centre, so that everything is decided at national level. This was the choice of Lab/LD and, before them, the Tories. Consultants like me did quite well out of that system as monies were strictly tied to certain types of activity and couldn't be spent elsewhere. Great for me - rubbish for the taxpayer. 2. Leave Local Government to work out priorities for themselves - I get no work.

    Back to the fitba!

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  • 28. At 9:01pm on 02 Jul 2010, rog_rocks wrote:

    "Granting leeway" is it?

    According to BBC news reports;

    Andy Murry has suddenly become Scottish.

    I'm sure he was English/British a couple of days ago?

    So what? So this...

    I wanted Spain to win... ABE ;)

    C'mon Albert, what's going on here?


    Perhaps it is a "new register" after a "likely defeat"

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  • 29. At 09:00am on 03 Jul 2010, NorthernSole wrote:

    27. oldnat

    I agree wholeheartedly that micro management form the centre is always a disaster. Devolvement of decision making to thiose closest to the action is usually the best.

    Which brings me to the actual substance of the blog. Crofting reform. Clearly decisions are being made by people 100's of miles away from crofting communities that have little undertstanding of how communities work.

    In these communities the crofters don't like the bill at all. So why on earth did Holyrood feel the need to behave like Westminster and force a solution to a problem on a group of people without understanding the problem?

    Hardly a positive advert for life in an independent Scotland? Hardly an example of inclusive government.

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  • 30. At 09:49am on 03 Jul 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    Rob04 #22 If the Calman Commission had included FFA and Independence in it's remit, would we have needed a National Conversation? You are surely not suggesting that those of us who believe in independence should have no voice.

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  • 31. At 12:08pm on 03 Jul 2010, It wisnae me wrote:

    Given that "So long and thanks for all the fish" was the dolphins' message of farewell to humanity as they prepared to leave the planet Earth in anticipation of its demolition, is Brian suggesting that Annabel Goldie knows the game is up amid claims that Wee Eck is preparing to lead us from the UK to a more secure future?

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  • 32. At 8:39pm on 03 Jul 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Jul 3 2010 Exclusive by Chris Musson

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  • 33. At 09:56am on 04 Jul 2010, U14541110 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 34. At 1:11pm on 04 Jul 2010, U14541110 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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