Over the summer I’ve spoken with both supporters and critics of the SNP who agree that the mood has been somewhat flat in recent years, compared with the more dynamic and innovative years of their first spell of minority government from 2007-11. The First Minister seemed to recognise this, indicating over the recess that her government had a need for a reset.
Summer, such as it is, nears an end; politicians are gearing up for a return to debating chambers around the country. Councillors have returned already, sadly including the racist and sectarian ones whose leader Ruth Davidson seems to regard their voting numbers as more important than any principle. Holyrood and Westminster will start their business again at the start of September. Not before time.
Much has been made this summer of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which began to partially decriminalise same-sex relationships. Those caveats are important of course: the Act didn’t apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or indeed to a great many people beyond a precisely defined exemption from prosecution.
“May I say just one more thing Prime Minister; if you must do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”
So spoke the fictional, and now almost legendary civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in perhaps his bluntest ever advice in an episode of Yes, Prime Minister. It’s a warning which has been coming to mind a lot recently, and it could have been made specifically about the disastrous decision to take the UK out of the European Union, and the damn silly way in which it’s being done.
"President Trump is pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement. How will the panellists deal with that?” Coming in the closing stages of the election campaign’s final UK-wide televised leaders’ debate on Wednesday evening, this question was followed by the presenter asking for it to be answered “briefly”.
Holyrood is in recess this week, but a recess that comes just a month before Scotland goes to the polls in the council elections was never going to be a quiet time! I’ll be getting out around the country over the coming weeks, but recently I’ve been campaigning with our Green candidates in my home city of Glasgow.
Thanks for your email about my party’s position on the call for a Section 30 order. I’m sure you wrote it in all seriousness, but I hope you’ll understand why it set me laughing grimly on the train home from Edinburgh when I read it.
The timing was odd, coming nearly five months after we debated the consequences of the EU Referendum result and issued our call for a Section 30 order. However, that point is rather minor compared with the rest of the email.
As Green activists gather in Glasgow this weekend for our spring conference, there will be a shiver of excitement in the air. Partly that’s because they read the same polls you did yesterday, showing the independence argument on a knife-edge. Partly it’s because we see that issue looking more and more likely to offer Scotland an escape route from the UK’s Brexit nightmare.
Scotland’s political landscape has been reacting this week to the BBC’s proposals to create a new TV channel for Scotland, with a nightly news programme combining domestic and international news from a Scottish perspective.
Yesterday we saw the biggest budget concession in Holyrood's history, a deal for councils that would not have been possible without the hard work of the Green MSPs. It shows that it's possible for parties to stay true to their aims while finding common ground in the interests of the public.
The result is that Green MSPs have achieved more in a single budget than the Labour Party has in a decade of opposition.