A sad day as Scottish Parliament protesters force Holyrood to become less open to the public – Scotsman comment

In the heady days of the birth of the Scottish Parliament, the idea of openness was central to a vision of a new, more democratic and consensual style of government. Holyrood was to be a people’s parliament.

Now, however, people will need to get a ticket if they wish to attend First Minister’s Questions because of repeated disruption of the debates by misguided climate activists. As Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said, it is “deeply regrettable that the Parliament has had to take this action”.

“Over the past 25 years, we have prided ourselves on our openness to the public and the ease with which visitors have access to parliamentary business,” she added. “However, a small but persistent number of protesters have brought us to the point where increased measures must be introduced.”

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Tickets will only be given to those who provide their name, address and proof of identification, and hand over their mobile phones and other electronic devices to be stored. “Wilfully disrupting” parliamentary business could result in a six-month ban from the public gallery. The measures will be reviewed after next week so, depending on what happens, it’s possible they could be made even stricter.

The reason why parliament should be open to all is that politicians need to be in close contact with the people who elect them. If they become a privileged elite, fenced off and protected from the public, good governance will suffer, along with faith in democracy. The only real impact of these protests has been to make necessary the creation of a new barrier between MSPs and voters. It is a sad day for the Scottish Parliament.



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