Ever since the inestimable gift of devolution was conferred on Scotland by Mr Blair there has been a nervous apprehension among the educated or just plain sensible classes north of the Border that the “wee pretendy parliament”, as Billy Connolly termed it, would one day drop us in the deepest doo-doo. Those fears have been realised. At its first meeting, the members of the parliament (MSPs) awarded themselves medals. This was done on the same precautionary principle that motivates Scots to conduct lavish celebrations at the start of the football World Cup tournament, in the realistic anticipation that there will not be a lot to celebrate at its conclusion.
No forum in the world brings more passion to the debate on dog-fouling or the hazards of children’s trampolines than the Wee Scotch Senate. Its finest hour came when, having reached the committee stage of a Bill to ban fur-farming in Scotland, MSPs were informed that there were no fur farms in Scotland. Defiantly, our legislators persevered and completed the expensive processing of the statute; some of us felt they should have included bull-fighting among its provisions. The chief consequence of setting up the Holyrood parliament has been that 129 Scottish villages are missing their idiots.