Tuesday, 15 December 2015


As I understand the situation, the SNP and Labour are in agreement about preventing the Tory's absurd Trades Union legislation affecting Scotland. Unfortunately Labour wasn't so much in agreement that it wanted to devolve Trades Union law to Scotland and so voted against this in the Smith Commission deliberations. However faced with the reality of the unions being stripped of most of their powers, they seem to be aboard with Nicola in her attempt to keep the unions' powers in Scotland.

Kezia Dugdale backed the First Minister when she attempted to get a debate under the Sewell Convention, which would almost certainly have resulted in the legislation being voted down in Scotland. 

The Presiding Officer's legal advice, however, was that this was not an area of legislation which was covered by Sewell. She therefore refused to allow the debate in parliament.

It seems that James Kelly MSP decided to take legal advice of his own, and that in the light of that advice he wished to make a point or order with Ms Marwick over her decision.

Unfortunately he stuttered and stumbled his way through some relatively unnecessary preamble, and seemed unlikely ever to get to the point. Ms Marwick hurried him along, and at that point he started to get shirty with her.

This was a bad idea. 

He was clearly questioning her judgement, and that of her legal advisers. One might have thought that the prudent thing to do in such a situation would be to be extremely respectful whilst questioning the decision. 

You can see in the video how the proceedings unfolded and their eventual outcome.

As it goes, I think that the Presiding Officer was a little hard on Kelly at the beginning of the débâcle. He was rambling and stalling, but public speaking doesn't appear to be one of his strong points and she could have cut him a little slack. However, once you have been told to sit down by the PO, you have no alternative but to sit down. 

Regardless of how right he thought himself to be, he was a fool not to do so.

To refuse to do as ordered by the Presiding Officer in any parliament inevitably means being escorted from the chamber. The Chair simply cannot accept wilful disobedience from anyone. To do so would be to invite chaos.

I'm no expert in the doings of parliament but I would imagine that Tricia Marwick didn't make the ruling on the legislation up on the spur of the moment. I'll bet that she took very senior and authoritative legal advice before her ruling. I don't know who gave Mr Kelly his legal advice which appears to be contrary to that of the PO. it may or may not have been equally senior and authoritative. 

But surely in the case where you believe that legal advice given to parliament is incorrect, the sensible course to take would be to have a meeting with the Chair, in private, rather than to try to embarrass in the chamber.

I'm sad that the debate cannot go ahead. I don't want to see the Trades Union legislation enacted for Scotland in a parliament in London. 

How different things would have been if, during the Smith deliberations, Labour had sided with the SNP to have the matter devolved.


  1. He obviously couldn't deviate from the script.

    1. But we pay him quite a lot of money to think on his feet... not with them.

    2. There's not many, in the accounting unit, able to do that; nor allowed to I suspect.

      They had their chance during the Smith commission, but their main aim was to hobble the Scottish Parliament. They thought they would return to power at Westminster and Holyrood, and everything would be back to "normal"; but the English and Scottish electorate saw things differently, for different reasons.

    3. When your only policy is to do down the SNP and to hell with the people who might vote for you, you are on a loser. Many people may hate the SNP or Alex Salmond or nicola Sturgeon, but most people probably think that spending your whole career going out of your way to thwart them, even when it means cutting of your nose to spite your face, is just plain daft.

      That could explain why after nearly 8 years in government the SNP doesn't look like being replaced by Labour any time soon.

  2. The Scottish Government should have control over union legislation, but it's a complicated matter. Be interesting to see what the reaction is if Cameron manages to get the legislation through Westminster. I think there will be trouble. Lots of it.


    1. I don't know how the talk between the First Minister and Cameron went yesterday.

      I can imagine a government elected by less than a third of the total electorate telling unions they must have more than 40% of their members vote for strike action before it can happen.

      I'd say what is good for unions is good for government...

  3. tris

    Devolve ? devolve ? you say I think not just look at how deep in dept
    you lot of snpers have got Scotland Zillions and zillions and zillions
    The snp and their acolytes have built a new Mountain for a new dawn
    a mountain of Dept............

    No doubt the snp slaves will deny reality they always have but the people can see and the people know..and thats why you will not see Independence not in my lifetime ( which i admit aint that much longer)
    but still you ill have to wait....

    Still our Jackie Baillie gallant woman as she undoubtedly iswill bring the snp crims to book for their misdeeds ,,

    1. Well, the figure of that teh Guardian quoted is in fact pretty much correct.

      The trouble is that most of it comprises the debt which PFI (Labour's policy of buy now and pay, whenever) and much of the rest comprises of Council's pension debt and that's mainly Labour's too.

      So far there is a tiny ability to borrow for Scotland. it would be impossible to reach the Guardian's figure on that alone.

      I look forward to Ms Baillie's retribution. Every time that woman opens her gob, everyone gets a big laugh.

      I trust nothing is ailing you Niko.

      Spook would never forgive me if you just went and died on us.

    2. I believe the debt you refer to is in Severin Carrell’s article in today’s Guardian.
      A mix of halve truths and obfuscation.
      A load of the debt is PFI hangover from the previous Labour administration.

      Have a gander over at Wings for a breakdown, and truth will out.

      Jackie Bailie, ha ha ha ha ha....that's your best one yet, ha ha ha ha...

    3. Don't worry though Tris we seem to be winning even the hardest of lunatics over to our side!

      "“Severin Carrell ?@severincarrell 17 mins17 minutes ago
      for the record, it seems @theSNP signed off on 12 PFI/PPP contracts including Scotland’s largest, the £320m M80, in Jan 2019.”"


      I knew they were good ... but seriously ... SNP have signed off 12 PFI/PPP projects in 2019!!!

      2019 ... REALLY???


    4. Now that's what I call forward thinking....

      I knew John was good, but really!!!!

    5. Looks like them thar unionists have finally got their crystal ball back from the ball repairers then. LOL

    6. I wonder what they have done in 2019.

    7. Hey Niko, back up there, Gordon Brown, you know that ASS that Labour employed to do their counting instituted PFI's which are costing a bleeding fortune, we have hospitals and schools which are draining away money faster than we get it. So before you stick your silly head over the parapet to be shot of go do your home work. You are not dealing with idiot Unionists here.

  4. Wait for the spin tomorrow. "SNP-BAD Presiding Officer crushes good socialist protesting about evil Tory legislation" shall be the refrain in the Record.

    1. Yes, I expect so. They will certainly forget to take into account that the government wanted to bring the debate (and Labour for once agreed).

      It was the FM that the PO ruled against.

      Still a good front page to the dwindling bunch that read it... and who cares about the truth.

  5. "As it goes, I think that the Presiding Officer was a little hard on Kelly at the beginning of the débâcle. He was rambling and stalling, but public speaking doesn't appear to be one of his strong points and she could have cut him a little slack."

    I think the PO may have had enough of Labour's rambling, never-quite-getting-to-a-useful-point, tirades just from what I've seen of FMQs.

    I don't blame her in the slightest for stomping on him for not getting to the point.

    Plus I think she could probably see where he was going with his "point of order" and I wouldn't be surprised at all if "I got my own lawyer to disagree with your legal advice" is *not* a point of order.

    1. She probably did, but it would have been nice of her to tolerate the old fool's ramblings. Everyone could have gone for a comfort break, and a cup of tea and been back in time to hear him get to his point.

      I wondered about whether it was a point of order or not. I still think that Kelly should have made an appointment to see Marwick, and not tried to make her look like an incompetent fool in front of the chamber.

      That was never going to end well.

      I don;t suppose he is one of the ones that is standing down.

      BTW I see as Jim's hair got greyer; his got blonder. What was that about?

  6. Barbara Woodhouse would have sorted him out.

  7. I believe you actually have to state your point of order reason right up front, so the PO can decide whether the debate can proceed at all.

    Kelly didn't.

    1. That would make sense.

      He seemed to be too busy making the point that she (or her advisers) were wrong.

      It will be interesting to find out who in the end IS right. The legal adviser to the Holyrood Parliament, or the legal advisor to Mr Kelly.

    2. Tend to think that Labour are trying to disrupt Parliament with the old saw that the SNP are closing down dissent. I am glad to see Tricia Marwick go though, she has never managed to imprint her authority on them. This banging the desks should have been stopped ages ago. If we cannot clap in Westminster, they do not bang their desks up here. I am hoping for a more confident person in the Presiding Officer, Tricia is only now getting there.

    3. I suspect that it will be a Labour person next time.

      We had a Liberal Democrat, an SNP, a Tory and an SNP.

      It wouldn't be unreasonable if they have someone who wants to go forward and who has the ability to chair parliament, ie someone with experience, for Labour to supply the PO.

      I can't think of anyone off the top of my head, and it depends on who they can get elected, or chosen from the list.

      The Hon Paul Martin maybe?

  8. {Tris, when you said the debate can not go ahead, you were probably not aware of this:}

    “While we are disappointed by the Scottish Parliament’s views on the Legislative Consent Motion lodged last week, we still believe that it is essential that the Scottish Parliament is able to express its opposition to this poorly thought out piece of legislation in the clearest possible terms to the UK Government.

    “The memorandum now sent for consideration by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee will provide an opportunity to do this, to be followed by a debate by the whole Parliament.


    {Now you are, cheers, V}

    1. Ah. Thank you Vince. I wasn't, as you suspected aware of it (and now I am).

      I think that seems fair. As Rosanna says, there is little support for it in Scotland.

      Thanks for bringing us up to date. :)

      It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

  9. I felt sorry for Mr Kelly because he's so far out of his depth. It's as though he's in a council chamber and feeling pretty pleased with himself scoring some point over an opponent. He doesn't seem to understand the role of Presiding Officer. Part of Labour's collapse may well be down to the public's seeing how unambitious Labour MSPs are, not only for themselves and their constituents, but for the Parliament. If this is the calibre of person Labour sees fit to choose for election, I don't see a way back for them unless the entire population is anaesthetised.

    1. He's supposed to be quite bright too. A chartered accountant no less...

      He doesn't come over that way, does he?

    2. Let's just say he's never denied being a CA... not sure it's ever been confirmed either.

  10. Agatha & CecilDecember 16, 2015 1:43 pm

    "Mr Kelly! So Kezia Dugdale told you to do it, did she. And if Kezia Dugdale told you to jump in the River Tweed would you do it?"

    Mr Kelly, sadly, probably would.

    1. Oh dear. Is that what he's saying?

      I suppose it's quite believable.

  11. Re your 1st reply to 'jimnarlene' "But we pay him quite a lot of money to think on his feet".......I say....and those feet were made for walking....and that's just what they'll do....and wanna these days....the PO is gonna walk all over you ( 'You' as in Mr Kelly....not as in 'you' tris...just clearing that up fir those peeps who like , Mr Kelly shouldnae be on telly, are mentally challenged'

    1. Lordy, Clapper, I'm glad to hear the PO won;t be walking over me.

  12. In principle, I like to see people stand up to authority. Unfortunately, that guy see's himself as an alternate authority and is no Spartacus.

    Quite what he thought he had to say was completely lost (to me). We shall probably never know whether he had a 'point of order' or not. Indeed, I doubt he did.

    If this is the Labour Party fight back, then even their list seats are at risk!

    1. I'm with you Douglas. Unnecessary authority I rail against, but I recognise authority when it is properly used.

      You can't have a parliament with 128 members and no discipline.

      I reckon that's fair, and on occasions I wish both she and Bercow in the London one would be a bit more fierce.

      I wonder if he will try to make the point of order again.

      I doubt it.

  13. I see at least one unionist has repeated my headline word for word.

    I think Niko thinks irony is how you describe the railings around Buckingham Palace...