How Parliament works.

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linda.jpgWhen Parliament gets its knickers in a twist, as it has done today the chamber descends into Point Of Order Lunacy (POOL). It's like the last day of term at an unruly school.

Two of my favourite Nat Ministers, Bruce Crawford and Linda Fabiani, failed to persuade the chamber that the finances stack up for Creative Scotland, via a dip in the deep end of the POOL.

With Linda not having made the case, and because Bruce sought to withdraw only the financial document, Labour and others scented a chance to defeat the Nats, albeit on a proposal they broadly backed.

Cue an utter POOL feeding frenzy. Some members, like Ken Macintosh, asked sensible questions, masquerading as points of order. Some asked actual points of order, I think, perhaps including Dr Simpson, the fireman's friend, but it was hard to keep up.

Others, like Karen Whitefield, hardly bothered - she just knew she had to start her contribution with the magic words "Point Of Order Presiding Officer Point Of Order", then went on to tell the chamber how important her role was before eventually offering nothing more than a pretty spurious debating point.

What POOL actually is is an unscheduled debate about the correct procedures to follow, working like a regular debate, except that Members have to shout and wave their arms in the air, shout the magic words, barrack each other and generally give a poor impression of the place.

POOL is profoundly not a good system, with or without top hats. And the end result today? A Bill with (admittedly relatively lukewarm) support across the parties has fallen altogether. Although Labour's tactics can easily be represented as divisive game-playing, the fact is that this farce has diminished the SNP's authority in the chamber.

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This page was published on June 18, 2008 5:41 PM.

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