Scottish Parliament needs to be more adversarial says leading historian

A leading Scots historian has called for more adversarial debate in the Scottish Parliament and criticised MSPs as lacking in vision.

Professor Sir Tom Devine has said the Scottish Parliament has not lived up to Donald Dewar's expectations of a place of "debate, argument and passion".

Professor Sir Tom Devine said that the Parliament, which marked its 20th anniversary with a special ceremony attended by the Queen yesterday, is "worthy of celebration", but that there has "not been enough debate argument and passion".

But he also predicted the "serious possibility" that the it could be the parliament of an independent country within the next ten years.

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Writing in today's Sunday Post, Professor Devine reflected on Donald Dewar's speech from the opening of the Parliament two decades ago, asking if the institution had lived up to the first First Minister's expectations.

In that speech, Mr Dewar had said he "looked forward to the days ahead and I know there will be many of them when this chamber will sound with debate, argument and passion".

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"You get the impression the debates in the Scottish Parliament are more reminiscent of county council or town council debates."

He adds: "To change that, the current generation will probably have to clear away and a new generation of politicians come up.

"How many visionary thinkers in the Scottish Parliament? I would like to see people from a much wider range going for election in the parliament. There is an imbalance in theat the vast majority if you look at their CVs, have come through the public services."

And while he writes that without the parliament it "could be argued" the union with the rest of the UK could be in "even greater difficulty... because of the contrast and frustrations that are occurring, especially in an age of austerity", he predicts that independence is now a "serious possibility".

"When we talk about the Scottish Parliament, it is not a likelihood but certainly a serious possibility that because of Brexit and the election of the next Conservative party leader, we will be talking about in ten years time the parliament in an independent Scotland."

He adds: "The Scottish Parliament is certainly worthy of celebration. Scotland would have been different without it - that is the key point."