TO HOLYROOD where I’m privileged to witness John Swinney make his debut hosting First Minister’s Questions. Mr Swinney, as expected, played it tight at the back, deploying a strategy designed to contain and breaking quickly from defence when the opportunity presented itself.

One of these chances occurred near the end of the session when a Tory backbencher deployed immoderate language when referring to the Scottish Greens as “extremist”.

Mr Swinney, rising to express all the faux outrage demanded of his mission to cosy up to the Scottish Greens, rebuked his questioner and urged him to be more “respectful”.

Yet, just a few minutes earlier he’d permitted Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Greens to indulge in a vicious and inaccurate diatribe against his new deputy – and purported ‘friend’ Kate Forbes.

Mr Harvie attacked the First Minister for sacking “progressive ministers” and for handing “the second most powerful job in government given to someone who has opposed LGBT people’s legal equality, who has expressed judgmental attitudes against abortion, and who has even expressed the view that people who have families without being married are doing something wrong.”

He then asked: “Is this the Scottish government’s vision for the future of Scotland - taking us back to the repressive values of the 1950s?”

Later, Mr Harvie’s party colleague, Ross Greer declared: “I'm being asked to vote for someone who thinks there's something wrong with me, not because of any views I hold, but simply because of who I am.”

Rather than rebuke these pre-meditated and dishonest attack on Ms Forbes, Mr Swinney chose to indulge them by begging them to forgive him. Effectively, he told them: “Look lads, my hands were tied. I was forced to give her a job, but don’t youze worry: me and my mates will keep her in check.”  

It was a supine and cowardly response from our new First Minister which doesn’t augur well for the future direction of his premiership. Are we to expect him now each week to seek to mollify such infantile and misogynistic invective from this reactionary cowboy outfit? This party can’t even yet bring itself to endorse the Cass Review and its concerns about the treatment of gender-distressed children and young people.

This should be much more concerning for Mr Swinney.  

The green rile

PERHAPS the Scottish Greens had been irked by Ms Forbes’ choice of apparel the previous day when she’d accepted her promotion to Deputy First Minister. There she was, resplendent in a fetching green ‘revenge’ frock.

During her time as a member of the Scottish Parliament, Ms Forbes has always upheld the rights of the LGBT community and has never rebuked those who choose to have families beyond marriage. Nor has she suggested there might be something “wrong” with Mr Greer. 

The Herald:

It seems that her vilest crime has been to uphold the authentic version of the Protestant faith as it’s practiced by the Free Church of Scotland, an admirable congregation which for many generations has exhibited the best of Scotland, most vividly in its Highlands and Islands redoubts.

Unlike some other Christian denominations the Free Kirk remains faithful to its founding principles and to the word of God. Since its foundation it has been a beacon of tolerance, democratic enlightenment and progressive virtue in its territories. It has fostered and protected the cultural treasure trove bequeathed by Gaelic language and arts.

In many places across the Highlands and Islands it was the prime enabler of a sound education for working-class children. It brooks no compromise in its beliefs and asks for nothing other than that all people of goodwill respect its teachings and traditions, all of which have made Scotland a better place. We should celebrate their contribution to the history and culture of our country.

Toxic shocker

ROSS GREER later claimed that the Scottish Parliament had become “much more toxic” in recent years and that homophobic abuse has become “considerably worse”.

Yet, his party supports a ban on Conversion Therapy which, if implemented, would effectively declare open season on practices which some gay men and lesbians believe are designed to suppress their sexuality.

Senior figures in his party have also advocated for puberty blockers to be prescribed even more widely to distressed children and young people than they are now. And this, despite the profound concerns expressed by Dr Hillary Cass in her review that medicalising these vulnerable young people, using experimental treatments may pose a grave danger to their future physical and mental wellbeing.

The Free Church of Scotland urges its members at all times to pray for these young people and all others encountering challenges in their lives. They present no danger whatsoever to the welfare of our gender-distressed young people.

The same cannot be said for the Scottish Greens.

Work in progress

IT only takes an hour or two in the Scottish Parliament before you find yourself involuntarily participating in a mental parlour game. How many times will the word “progressive” or iterations thereof feature in the day’s proceedings?

This word must now rank amongst the most meaningless and shape-shifting idioms ever to have disfigured what passes for civic discourse. It seeks to imply “anything with which the Scottish Greens disagree”. Thus it has become something punitive and authoritarian.

Authentic progressiveness is not complicated. It seeks to lift marginalised communities out of poverty and to bring forward measures pertinent to that goal: better wages; sustainable jobs; wider access to healthcare and education; affordable housing. It seeks to protect the rights of workers from predatory and avaricious bosses.




It will always be on the side of communities who have truly experienced discrimination and hatred on the basis of their skin colour, faith or ethnicity.

It does not extend to an affluent clique of entitled misanthropes who routinely attack feminists and lesbians for expressing a desire to protect their privacy and refuges from men who might seek to do them harm.

Note to lazy BBC political journalists: when a member of Scotland’s political elite uses the term ‘progressive’ it usually implies the opposite of what they claim it to be.