Friday, 3 July 2009

I can be purl - an anagram

There has been a ridiculous fuss over the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Scottish Parliament and which MSPs turned up, which didn't, who was making excuses and who was telling the truth. Who cares?

It didn't even occur to me to not go to the big day last Wednesday. It had nothing to do with the fact that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were there. It had very little to do with celebrating ten years of the parliament - yes devolution is better than what we had but I'll do the real celebrating when we're free.

It had everything to do with the fact that there were over 100 kids (many from my constituency) who were there to celebrate the 10th birthday they share with the parliament. It was great fun (I'll post the pics shortly) and the kids had a ball. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been to have the Queen at your 10th birthday party REGARDLESS of anyone's political views?

I LOVE kids (until they grow up to be cynical adults) and I had a brilliant time going round them all, teasing and asking "how old are you today?". They got their faces painted, they had drama, science, art and music. There were cartoonists, clowns, birds of prey, monarchs, politicians and they got to meet over a hundred other kids who came into the world on the same day. There was a giant birthday cake and the icing was made of the photos of each and every one of them. It was probably the most exciting day of their lives and what is better in life than to watch innocent children simply having *fun?

So I was there for the kids but I went in to listen to the Queen and the other speakers. I did that because I'm a polite person and I've been brought up to be courteous to visitors. I think I can do that and keep my republican credentials intact. It's not as if we were taking a vote and I voted to retain the monarchy. If any other head of any other state (elected or otherwise - so long as they were not some mad despot) was visiting the parliament of which I am a member, I'd go along and listen to them too, if I happened to be in parliament that day.

But it is entirely up to the individual to choose and I don't think anyone can be criticised for making the decisions they made on this one. However, sadly, stoked up by the media, that's exactly what's happening.

Those who went are "kow-towing to the monarchy". Those republicans who went are "hypocrites". Those who stayed away but gave the reason as something other than "admitting" to being republicans were accused of being "fearties".

For example, my Glasgow colleagues Bob Doris and Sandra White were not there. Bob was meeting asylum seekers that day. Bob is a republican, he doesn't hide it but he has no personal issue with the Queen and had he been in parliament he probably would have popped in. As it happens he knows that meeting him was more important for the asylum seekers than it was for the Queen. Sandra was on her holidays. She too is a republican and she makes no secret of the fact but by saying she was away on holiday (as she's perfectly entitled to do and as we'll all be doing over the summer), she was not being "feart" she was simply being honest.

Christine Grahame, another SNP MSP, didn't go because she is a republican and she would have felt she was being hypocritical to attend. If I felt I was being in any way hypocritical I would have stayed away too. The point is it's a personal decision to make. I have no problem with monarchists who went - I fundamentally disagree with them but they're entitled to be wrong :-) I have no problem with those who stayed away and I don't give a damn what reason they offered. And I have absolutely no problem with the fact that I, as a republican, went and said happy birthday to so many lovely kids who will probably remember that day for the rest of their lives.

The whole argument's got really boring now and I really do wish folk would stop going on about it. Talk about causing ructions in an empty hoose!

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