This is an extract from Iain Martin’s newsletter for subscribers to Reaction. Become an annual subscriber and we’ll send you a free bottle of Kerr’s Borders gin as a welcome gift.

When the Scottish parliament was founded, in 1999, some of us on the Unionist side were a tad grumpy about it. Wouldn’t it let the Nationalists in eventually, creating an endless grievance-manufacturing machine the Nats would use to undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom?

For all my negativity back then I always assumed, wrongly it turns out, that Scottish devolution would improve with age. There would be a logic of improvement. Isn’t that how history works, if you’re lucky? Legislative mistakes would be learnt from. A new generation of leaders would presumably emerge and public administration would improve.

Nope. It’s much worse now than it was twenty years ago and getting worse by the month. More of the gender recognition reforms in a moment.

Holyrood’s deliberations are increasingly idiotic, simplistic and depressing to watch. It’s not just that it’s unicameral with no revising chamber. The claim was the expert committees would do the revising work better than the UK House of Lords. Instead, the committees at Holyrood are depressingly low grade. Try watching any of it as a Scottish patriot, or as a non-Scot who likes Scotland. It is jaw-droppingly mediocre. 

The whole Scottish devolution project under the SNP has come to be defined by a creeping, chippy, downward dimness, a parochial smallness of the imagination that makes contemporary, discredited Westminster look Athenian. While Holyrood attracts a minority of talented individuals, the poor souls are surrounded by people who should simply not be there. This is Scotland? No, it’s a place with so much potential, the country of Adam Smith and David Hume, run into the ground by Holyrood.

Face it. The Scottish Parliament has been a disaster. It has not improved education, health, the economy or social policy in Scotland.

Now, the parliament has passed a law meaning 16 year-olds can change sex (a biological impossibility) without a rigorous medical procedure, or any surgery or prospect of it, it seems. Women’s rights are being trashed. Sex offenders, rapists and paedophiles will be able to declare themselves to be women and demand to serve their sentences in women’s prisons. An amendment requires a “risk assessment”. What could possibly go wrong?

It is all so inherently stupid, gender “woo woo” as Alex Massie calls it, and blindly parochial. Outside Scotland the last year or so has involved significant and worrying developments. The debate has shifted. The controversial Tavistock gender clinic in England has closed. The trans activist Mermaids charity is under investigation by the Charity Commission.

There’s a central deceit at work, a delusional conceit, that colours much of the journalism and commentary, though not all, about the downright weird goings on in Scotland. Don’t point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes, really no clothes, because, well, even devo-sceptics are supposed to say they, we, are dedicated to making it work.

There is no way back. I accept that. The Scottish Parliament is not going to be closed down. What needs to happen is massive improvement. That won’t happen until the truth is faced and more sensible Scots rise up and year on year take control of the country’s parties and institutions.

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