The summer solstice has come and gone and the balmy days of July are upon us from tomorrow hopefully. The Scottish Parliament has now risen for its eight week recess (business resumes on Tuesday 5 September) and Westminster is starting to settle into some semblance of normal business after the General Election which nobody wanted – possibly including Mrs May.
Scotland’s 21 new MPs have started seeking slots for their maiden speeches. Glasgow East SNP new boy David Linden and Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird were amongst the first ten (of 92) new MPs to speak in the debate on the Queen’s Speech. This piece of Commons theatrics is often a good bellwether as to who will sink or swim over the next few years in the Westminster pond. A ‘good maiden’ tends to get noticed by party leaders and media alike and can help an ambitious new MP be fast tracked to promotion. A poor or nervous performance can have the opposite effect, especially in the two larger parties where there are more new recruits trying to get noticed.
Holyrood’s final week saw a return to the independence debate. After a tense debate on Tuesday, the First Minister has now put her independence referendum plans (temporarily) on hold after announcing a “reset” of her proposed timetable. She had called for an independence referendum to be held in the autumn of 2018 or spring of 2019, but Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood she would now delay her plans to introduce legislation for a referendum until after Brexit.
Elsewhere, the Scottish Government has said that it is “likely” to trigger formal dispute resolution talks over the £1bn Conservative deal with the DUP at Westminster. Ministers in Scotland believe that funding should also be heading north of the border in light of the agreement of extra money for Northern Ireland. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has written to Treasury chief Liz Truss asking for an “urgent” meeting. A Scottish Government spokesman said the deal was a “gross breach of the established principles of devolution”.
And finally, we say goodbye to Gordon Wilson, leader of the SNP from 1979 to 1990 and MP for Dundee East who died on Sunday. He is often credited with caretaking the party during the Thatcher years when the SNP struggled to get more than a couple of MPs (including himself) elected. A Dundee lawyer, Gordon Wilson belonged to a less frenetic age of politics when ‘London’ was a far off distant land and Holyrood little more than a pipe dream amongst the political left.
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