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Trade Union Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2016.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

There are one or two things that I can say with some conviction. The first is that the past couple of hours were a couple of hours of my time that I will never see again.

Members have failed to notice that there is an alternative interpretation of the bill and have debated a bill that does not exist. The truth is that members have been more interested in out-lefting one another for political reasons than in debating the bill. That has come across in a number of ways, not least in the fact that a bit of name calling has gone on. At various times, I or my colleagues have been described as Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun or, latterly, Vladimir Putin. I am not sure about that last one, but I might show a degree of pride in the first two.

Nevertheless, there is a case for talking about the bill in the way that it is meant to be implemented, and we have failed to do that. It is unfortunate that we have got too tied down in dogma and that not enough has been said about the bill itself.

During the debate, a specific interest arose in me about the different interpretations of where we are coming from and what the status quo is. We heard in Roseanna Cunningham’s opening statement that she appears to believe that things are going rather well in industrial relations in Scotland. However, that has been established on the basis of reforms that were introduced 20 years ago, when, if I am not much mistaken, she was a member of the House of Commons and argued against the very reforms whose achievements she is now willing to claim credit for.

Another strange thing has gone on during the debate.