Scottish lawmakers jump at another chance to argue about nothing

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April 18, 2013 by Nash Riggins

This week, Scotland’s lawmakers are sitting down to stage a debate on the legacy of Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher – carving yet another notch into the Scottish Parliament’s already prolific belt that celebrates the body’s obsession with utterly pointless parliamentary procedure.

So, why this debate? Apparently Green and Independent MSPs were allocated a debating slot that they’ve aptly dubbed ‘the legacy of Thatcherism’. Accordingly, the group will spend today’s debate highlighting concerns over whether the economic model of the deregulated market has ultimately failed, as well as the overall social impact Thatcherism has had upon Britain. Thank God Scottish legislators don’t get paid by the hour, because this debate could easily go into late next week.

Okay. If MSPs want to debate Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, that’s fine – they can do it off the clock and in their break room; however, there’s no way in hell they should be getting paid with taxpayers’ money just to regurgitate the partisan rhetoric they read in last week’s newspapers. Then again, it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

In fact, Scottish lawmakers have become absolute pros when it comes to getting paid to talk about things that don’t matter. Take last month, when those at Holyrood spent an entire day yelling at each other over who voted in favour of the Iraq War and who didn’t. First Minister Alex Salmond even went so far as to demand that Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont publicly apologise for voting in favour of the war, insinuating that her party was responsible for the deaths of countless Scots.

I know what you’re thinking – why bother? Because, as every school child knows, arguing about something someone did ten years ago brings people back from the dead. After an entire day of quarrelling, MSPs decided to put it to the vote in order to decide once and for all whether they liked the Iraq War – in the end, they decided that they didn’t. What a productive decision that would have been, had the Iraq War not already ended.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget last October, when the SNP spent half of their annual conference arguing about whether an independent Scotland should stay with NATO. After what they most likely believed to be an extremely productive debate, SNP members voted in favour of staying with NATO post-independence – subsequently leading to the resignation of two SNP politicians who were morally opposed to the fighting force.

Yet as fate would have it, those casualties were for naught – as just last week, NATO recanted the SNP’s decision by declaring that an independent Scotland couldn’t be a part of their club even if Scottish legislators so desired.

That being said, it’s not fair to say that this pompous desire to spend time and money debating our very existence afflicts only Scottish politicians – after all, Westminster already had their debate about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. How did British MPs spend the day? By renewing old tensions and talking about how much they hated each other. Consequently, you’d think that Scottish politicians would’ve had the common sense to cancel their own debate after seeing first-hand just how pointless it truly is to argue about whether or not you agreed with the closing down of a string of mines some 30-odd years ago. Well, think again.

Margaret Thatcher is gone, the Iraq War is over and there’s no point debating about whether or not a hypothetically-independent country will support a treaty it’s not even invited to join. MSPs have no right to continue wasting taxpayers’ money talking about things that they can’t change whilst there are real problems at hand. After all, the Scottish government already possesses an amazing level of legislative autonomy, so why don’t they mix it up by talking about things they can change? Oh yeah, because they’re busy stomping on a dead woman’s grave. But hey, if nothing else, at least MSPs are consistent about the way they use their time.

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