Saturday, 27 June 2015

my impressions of spectating @ScotParl Mental Health Bill debate 24 June 2015 (sent to MSPs in Email)

Here is an Email sent this morning, 27 June 2015, to fellow human rights campaigners and MSPs, about spectating in Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, 24 June 2015, during the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill debate:

Strapline: Re: 2003 Mental Health Act debate 24 Jun, most SNP MSPs on mobile devices, voting against - in Feb12, Stratheden Fife the MH Act safeguards were not safe

"To whom it may concern:

with comrades in Scottish Parliament after debate
I was there spectating at the Mental Health Bill debate in Scottish Parliament on 24 June 2015, for most of the time, having to go out every now and then for drink of water or cup of tea.

Although in one sense it was good to see a large number of MSPs in the house to debate the Bill, in fact many of them were on their mobile devices doing other business or speaking to their colleagues sitting next to them.  I viewed all of this going on.  And they had to be brought to order on at least one occasion for making too much noise.

I saw Alex Salmond MSP talking away to Fiona Hyslop MSP, sitting side on, for quite a time, obviously catching up, although it seemed to be more of a one-way conversation as Ms Hyslop was using her mobile device.  Mr Salmond appeared to be voting on the amendments (not sure why, since he is an MP, not an MSP).  Then I saw him say his farewells to a number of his colleagues before leaving.  

I saw my own MSP Rod Campbell on his mobile device, a tablet, and working on documents throughout the session.  Or speaking with colleagues sitting next to him.  I saw Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, on her iPad or tablet, for most of the time, sitting in the front row.

As a spectator I was sitting to the back of the chamber and had a good view of all the MSPs and what they were up to.  The main protagonists were Jamie Hepburn MSP who read from his notes in a monotone voice as if they had been written by someone else and this was his first time of reading them.  Apologies Mr Hepburn if this is not the case.  That's how it came over to me.  Compare this to Richard Simpson MSP who spoke articulately and with passion about the amendments which he proposed and why they were important for patients and carers.  In fact Mr Simpson of anyone did put a lot of effort into his delivery. 
Mary Brooksbank Jute Mill Song
This is what I witnessed.

I had sat through the Education debate and then the discussions on the Calmac issue.  I noticed there was far more passion and engagement on these topics, on some occasions even a stamping of feet, to emphasise conviction.  I never saw any of this at the MH Bill debate.  Apart from the opposition MSPs, particularly the old guard like Simpson, Chisholm and Scanlon, who have advocated faithfully for the mentally ill in the chamber for 14 years or more.  Well done to them. 

It concerns me as to what will happen when these old faithful MSPs leave the building.  And we are left with a large contingent of SNP MSPs who seem to be more interested in socialising with their fellow ministers and catching up with matters on their mobile devices, than on the human rights of the mentally ill and their carers.

It does not inspire me with hope.  It makes me want to stand in the Holyrood chamber and speak out along with the Opposition.

Yours faithfully,

Chrys Muirhead

Unwaged carer, mother, grandmother, pensioner, activist, campaigner, writer"
More Edinburgh photies:

Waverley station
John Knox House purportedly

inside Scottish Parliament taking a refreshment break from debate

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