#AceNewsReport – Dec.05: The party lost 40 of its 41 MPs in the 2015 general election, and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is riding high. Can a 34-year-old newcomer (who didn’t even vote until she was 23) turn things around?
It’s five minutes before the week’s big event in the Scottish parliament, and the scene suggests a kind of politics much more modern than the hoary Westminster version. The debating chamber is an airy space, all wood panels and bright lights, seemingly purpose-built for TV broadcasts. Members – known as MSPs, or members of the Scottish parliament – have their own little desks on which they can carefully arrange their paperwork. There is none of that “right honourable member” stuff, nor a speaker sitting on a throne and dressed in a gown; if something goes down well, it’s met with applause rather than a massed, “Hear, hear.” And, as if decisively to confirm that we are in the 21st century, each of the major party leaders, arranged in a semi-circle from right to left, is a woman: the Tories’ Ruth Davidson, first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, and Labour’s new(ish) leader Kezia Dugdale.
Today is first minister’s questions, a half-hour ritual with a running order loosely based on what happens in the House of Commons. The big issue this week is an official report into a scandalous run of events back in July this year, when Scottish police – who were amalgamated into a single force by the SNP government in 2013 – failed for three days to respond to reports of a car crash on the M9 that killed 28-year-old John Yuill, and thereby contributed to the death of his 25-year-old partner Lamara Bell, who left behind two children.