Punch and Judy

December 19th, 2011

Anyone looking for the usual Punch and Judy Show at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday morning would have been bitterly disappointed.

Instead of the usual fights in a debate about elderly care services, a spirit of consensus broke out as the Scottish Government adopted Labour’s idea of integrating health and social care budgets and it was backed by all the parties.

This is an attempt to tackle the pass-the-parcel approach to elderly care that leaves people waiting in hospital beds or sent home without the proper support in place.

But like any reform, the challenge will be in the implementation and we will have to work together to ensure this works in the interests of the people who rely on this care.

That mood of consensus was in stark contrast to the debate on sectarianism the day before.

In bringing forward new laws intended to punish offensive behaviour, the Scottish Government achieved something thought impossible, uniting Rangers and Celtic fans, the churches and the academics and political commentators against their approach.

Rather than listen and build a consensus, the SNP used their majority to force through these laws.

With power comes great responsibility, and the test for this legislation now will be the impact it has on sectarianism, for better or worse.

We also had unemployment figures, which saw a worrying rise again here in Inverclyde.

It means the Scottish Government’s so-called Plan McB isn’t working and the cuts to the URC among other things make the task of attracting jobs and businesses even tougher.

Whether it’s reforming social care, tackling sectarianism and creating jobs, there are always lots of good intentions.

So as the parliamentary year draws to a close, we need more than warm words and rhetoric to take on the challenges facing Scotland.