No Christmas cheer from Nicola for Helensburgh list MSP who challenged SNP drink driving policy

Nicola Sturgeon and Helensburgh man John Corry.

By Bill Heaney

The Numpty Award – and it has to be bad to beat SNP council leader Jonathan McColl – goes this week to Maurice Corry, the Tory list MSP for the West of Scotland.

The Unionist Big Mo, who comes from Helensburgh, decided to take a pop at the Nationalists in Holyrood, home of the Scottish Parliament.

Rather pompously, he rose in the chamber during First Minister’s Questions to declaim: “As reported in The Lancet [a medical journal] this morning, road traffic accidents in Scotland have increased by 7 per cent since the introduction in 2014 of the Scottish Government’s lower alcohol limits for drivers.

“Is that a direct result of yet another failed Scottish National Party Government policy?”

Anyone with an ounce of political nous would have known that this was the wrong question to ask at the wrong time of year.

Santa Claus would definitely not be coming down his lum this Noel. Elfin Nicola would see to that.

First Minister Nicola (nice Christmassy name that) quickly made Maurice feel like the little boy Santa Claus forgot.

Then, in her own inimitable, nippy sweetie fashion, Nicola gave Big Mo a frosty look before reducing him to a puddle of cold sweat.

For one moment, she might even have wished to borrow one of Rudolph’s antlers – or even an icicle – to stick up Mo where the snow don’t go.

“As I recall,” the First Minister said, “when the Parliament decided to lower the drink-driving limit, it did so unanimously. Obviously, that must mean that the Conservatives supported the move, and I give them credit for doing so.

“However, it cannot reasonably be said that road traffic accidents are increasing because we have cut the drink-driving limit. That makes no sense.

“I say in all seriousness that, now that we are in the festive season—we should do this all year round, but particularly at this time of year—the unanimous message that should come from all of us to everybody across Scotland is: do not drink and drive.

“I find it deeply regrettable that today, as we go into the Christmas period, we have a Conservative MSP standing up and somehow seeming to suggest that lowering the drink-driving limit was a bad thing to do. I hope that he will reflect very seriously on the question that he has just asked.”

Big Mo, who is what’s known as a List MSP, might reflect long and hard on this matter – not over a drink, of course. With or without ice.

There have been calls to get rid of List MSPs like Mr Corry, who is also a councillor in Argyll and Bute.

Wilson BrianDemocrat columnist Brian Wilson once campaigned to reform the two-tier Holyrood electoral system when he was an MP at Westminster.

Mr Wilson, pictured right, branded the 56 MSPs elected to the parliament via top up lists as “an unemployed waste of space”.

His remarks fuelled speculation that Labour might scrap the list system altogether.  Dissatisfaction with the current model has led to suggestions that it ought to be replaced by a single transferable vote (STV) system.

Under STV, constituencies would be larger and each would have several members. Voters would rank candidates in order of preference.

Of Scotland’s 129 MSPs, 73 have won first past the post seats. The 56 beneficiaries of the regional lists do not have individual constituencies.

Mr Wilson once wrote: “In the Highlands and Islands every one of these people finished third in constituency elections, yet as a consolation they are made MSPs anyway. I don’t see anything democratic about that.

“Personally I would not weep any tears if the list system was done away with. I regard list MSPs as an underemployed waste of space.

“They have no constituency, they have no role and they are not elected by anyone.”

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