by Fiona Grahame | Follow on Twitter

Watching First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, as the camera closes in on the sparring partners, you may be forgiven for not noticing that The Scottish Mace rests in the central debating chamber. Our political leaders, however, have it in full view as they hold to account the First Minister on our behalf.

The Scottish Mace is the work of the exceptional Michael Lloyd. It is made from Scottish silver and gold.  Around its head are the words ‘ There shall be a Scottish Parliament – Scotland Act 1998’ and was presented as a gift on 1st July 1999 by the Queen.  It is designed to represent a ‘marriage’ between the parliament, the land and its people. Entwined in its thistle symbols is engraved ‘Wisdom’, ‘Justice’, ‘Compassion’ and ‘Integrity’.  Powerful words are they not?

In his acceptance of the mace Donald Dewar said:

For me – and I think in this I speak at least for any Scot today – this is a proud moment, a new stage in a journey begun long ago and which has no end. This is a proud day for all of us……..Wisdom, justice, compassion, integrity – timeless values, honourable aspirations for this new forum of democracy born on the cusp of a new century…’

I wonder what Donald Dewar would have thought about last week when instead of questioning the government on matters of importance to the Scottish people, the leader of the Scottish Labour party used up all her time to plough on about an SNP MP in Westminster and what the SNP might know or not know about her. To help her out next time here are some questions she could have asked:

  • What is the government doing to solve the recruitment and retention crisis hitting all sectors of our education system?
  • How will the government support the renewable energy industry in Scotland given the funding crisis now hitting it ?
  • What is the government doing to help small businesses and the crisis hitting our town centres where so many shops are still empty?
  • What is the government’s long term strategy with fracking applications including Underground Coal Gassification, and the global crisis of climate change?

So just a few questions that the people of Scotland might have liked answers to and which the government may have had a hard time answering. Our political leaders in the Scottish Parliament would do well to remind themselves of the Mace that sits within their view when they engage in bandying insults about. ‘Integrity’ is one value that they seem short of.