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Newsweek Scotland: Views from Calton Hill

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 15:05 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Calton Hill

Edinburgh looked resplendent from Calton Hill this week... spread out on all sides, roofs and spires glistening in the sun... over there the crown spire of St Giles, up the saddle of the Royal Mile to the Castle and then round to Leith and - a distant shimmer on the skyline - the Fife hills. There are times when you feel truly proud of your country, when some unexpected vista moves you to emotion.

There was the time I stood high on Ben Hiant in Ardnamurchan and watched a ferry ply its way to Mull over a marble sea. I couldn't for the life of me remember being anywhere in the world so beautiful.

Glancing down at those upturned boats of Holyrood I wondered if our parliament matched the grandeur of our capital. Can you remember an MSP contribution which held your attention, inspired or moved you in the past four years? If you can it may have been during a debate on a non-party issue like euthanasia and I bet there are few of them. Mostly it's jeering and braying and a series of studied attempts to do each other down. The daft thing is that a lot of that is for public consumption and in private most MSPs get on perfectly amiably. In other words they put on something of a show for us the voters and yet the acrimony is one of the things the public hate most.

At the end of the first nationalist administration we hear a thoughtful view of our government's efforts and limitations from Murray Pittock and Gerry Hassan.

We debate our involvement in Libya, whether it is the right thing to do and, if so, why stop at Libya and yet decline to intervene in Yemen or Bahrain? And is Gaddafi a legitimate target for attack? Menzies Campbell and John McDonnell join us.

Two retiring MSPs (in the employment sense) discuss the state of North Sea oil and the government's new tax regime. They are Chris Harvie and Ted Brocklebank and we have a report on micro banking in Bangladesh. We'll try to raise the level of debate and metaphorically take the view from Calton Hill. Join me tomorrow at 8.


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