In a recent late night discussion with friends we found ourselves debating the Parable of the Talents and its parallels with the current political landscape. Probably by most standards a strange parallel to draw but I thought that the disappointment and feeling of abject loss of opportunity felt by the master in the story would be understood by the Scottish electorate and would have particular resonance with the Scottish legal profession.
Having a majority Government in the Scottish Parliament is an entirely unique position made more so by all of the committees have a party majority; and even the Presiding Officer coming from the ruling party. In short, the legislative possibilities are limitless.
There is a wealth of legislative change that Scots criminal law and Scots civil law requires. For example, the anachronistic legislation covering Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) demands immediate attention. Only through robust Corporate Homicide legislation can the profound problem with workplace deaths be addressed. The Scottish Law Commission has given us a clear way forward in relation to psychiatric injury but its report is sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
The Scottish people handed the Scottish Government an historic majority and trusted that it would be used wisely but we have, thus far, been paid with very little legislative return. The Scottish Government has faced questions from the Labour benches recently on issues relating to their honesty and their competence. These questions demand answers but I wonder if the problem with the Scottish Government is more basic and more simple: Is it simply the case that they are so focussed on the referendum in 2014, that their eye is off the ball and their attention is not where it should be, which is to say, on the day to day running of the country?
There’s no doubt 2014 is important, but it is not be used as an excuse to squander a great opportunity to deliver real legislative change or to give up on the day to day running of the country. My advice to the Government would be that they should get their shovels out now; dig up the talents that they have buried; and invest them in running the country lest they pay the ultimate price – not in 2014 but in 2016 at the Scottish elections.