It Ain’t Half Hot Here, Mum

You don’t half get a bit of perspective when you’re away on holiday. Not that I advocate my habit of lounging about on boats drinking caipirinhas and stepping off into the Atlantic to cool off. That’s just decadence. And roaring around in open top cars in blazing sunshine isn’t recommended either. No, the real satisfaction of being away was looking at events from afar. (It didn’t used to be afar where I was but after Brexit it did feel like it)

I looked at news through one eye to avoid engaging directly. It still meant I didn’t miss treats like a headline from David Torrance likening Salmond to Trump – cue puzzled looks from neighbouring balconies as I hooted – or a pic of a choirboy that turned out to be Euan McColm telling us we need nicer politics…from the man who gave us the memorable hashtag #f**koffyouc**t. It just proves that irony really does travel.

One thing that didn’t change was my perspective on Labour…still haven’t a clue what’s going on there and still strongly suspect Jeremy will go down, one way or the other, and take the party with him. We just await the final shoot-out at the OK Corral.

In which light the position of Kezia seems weirder and weirder, both in saying no to

any contact with independence which at least has a short term logic, and in blocking any move to a separate status for her branch office, which doesn’t. Kezia may turn out to be just as self destructive in Scotland as Jeremy – and the Blairite Munchkins – are in England.

As a result the Tories get away with it. It’s really hard to make a telling case against an opponent who simply has to point and laugh in reply. Ruth’s clever one-of-the-gals routine has rocked the media who mostly continue to see the Nats as the real threat to our British Island Idyll rather than the isolationist anti-foreigner poverty-mongers of the Tory party. She skates it instead of being stopped in her tracks over every unThatcherite U-turn she makes. I was clearly of the view she argued against Boris Johnson on television over Brexit yet has now fallen silent as her new leader prepares the Euro Retreat. At least Sturgeon deserves her widespread praise.

She could also have earned more from me if she’d mumbled something, no matter how incoherent, in a regretful tone over the court findings on Named Person. Unlike some, I haven’t a moment’s doubt about the authenticity of the SNP’s intentions in this regard but the road to Holyrood is paved with good intentions. Governments are judged on delivery and finding itself on the wrong side of the human rights convention wasn’t so much a head-shaker for a progressive party but a head-hanger.

John Swinney will indeed redraft the info-sharing aspect to make it compliant but he hasn’t explained, so far as I know, why it wasn’t in the first place. To anyone closely concerned with individual rights and the relentless interference they suffer – notably from Theresa May’s snooping plans – this should have been the next priority after nailing the main point of child protection. I would have liked to hear some official thinking on why it wasn’t ECHR compliant. Poor legal work by government staff? Not enough external expert input? Insufficient legislative scrutiny? General sloppiness? Was there over confidence when the first doubts were expressed? Was it re-examined in the light of the legal challenge before going to court?

I don’t want a government which has to be sued to guarantee civil rights. The fact it was brought by religious zealots makes it even more ignominious. Sure, it’s a legal technicality but if your going through a stressful part of your life making you vulnerable to outside judgment on your parenting, you need to know there are genuine attempts being made to help you and you’re not just victim of back-of-the-hand bitching by jobsworths.

I thought John Swinney’s statement made the mistake of underplaying the issue because it raised the question: If it’s just a tweak that’s needed, why did you have got it wrong in the first place?

Politically of course it gives a clear run on goal for the critics, not that any combination of Adam Tomkins, Iain Gray and the Church of Eternal Idiocy could actually hit an empty net.

My own theory about the SNP’s approach to human rights is different from those who seem obsessed with dictatorship and totalitarianism. (That Swinney’s well known for his admiration of Recep Erdogan and Kim Jong-Un. They talk of little else on Tayside.)

Like all insurgents, they’re impatient. They can play a long game on independence because that’s the big one but they want to change Scotland and quickly. Public policy takes forever to make demonstrable improvements yet when it happens it’s like a drug that excites them. Look at the reaction to the smoking ban…

I think they’re in a hurry which is a good thing except when it comes to legislation which needs scrupulous drafting to avoid misuse. The offensive behaviour at football being a case in point. A vote in chamber is not the same thing at all and Named Person – which may turn out to be an iconic measure allowing some of a new generation from questionable homes to blossom into maturity – would have benefitted from detailed revising scrutiny. Why not have a committee look at how this could be done?

I’ve also thought for a while that the SNP isn’t as smart on the public relations front as it used to be. I don’t think Named Person was sold well, or at all, to a wider public. You are delving into the uncomfortable private lives of families in a way few of us are accustomed to. A public softening-up explaining why this is needed and how it would work would have been a sound investment. Better that than a retrospective scramble to make the detail legal amid a barrage of criticism.

I say criticism, but really the opportunistic and cynical manipulation of this issue by the usual suspects in opposition – I include the media – has been spectacularly small-minded.

My European perspective, if it were needed, witnessed a welter of faux outrage and hysterical accusations that belittles them and the country they represent. It was if the children didn’t matter but point-scoring did. Not one politician I read gained credibility by calmly articulating that this scheme deserved to succeed for the good of our children but those same children deserved a government that did its job properly to guarantee their rights. Do any of them really want this to fail?

I suggest the whole Holyrood contingent gets on a plane to somewhere hot and orders caipirinhas all round.

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