Uneasy truce was never going to last

A RARE outbreak of consensus hit MSPs at Holyrood this week, well almost.

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First we witnessed the passing of the Equal Marriage Bill where 105 MSPs across all parties voted to give same sex couples the right to wed.

Some, 18 to be exact, opposed the bill including three government ministers Roseanna Cunningham, Fergus Ewing and Alasdair Allan as well as Glasgow SNP MSP John Mason and Labour's Elaine Smith, Michael McMahon and Siobhan McMahon.

More than half of the Tory group voted no with another three SNP backbenchers but the majority was big enough to be considered overwhelming.

Inside, the reasons against were delivered in a reasonable and articulate manner, with John Mason seeking protection for churches who don't want to participate.

Outside the protests that had once been both numerous and vociferous had whittled away to just a handful warning of incurring God's wrath and statements on tragic events not worth repeating which can only be described as bampottery. Then the next day we had the SNP and Labour uniting to back a deal to end the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland.

However even in agreement Iain Gray and John Swinney were at each other's throats, they were just squeezing more gently. The tone was obvious. 'We can do this together, but let's be clear we still don't like you and all you stand for' - each could have said of the other.

The parliament has become increasingly polarised in the last year, not in overall policy, as we saw this week there is much that is agreed on, but MSPs have dug in for the referendum battle.

So the examples this week gave welcome respite and proof that when all or most sides agree then good things can still be achieved through politics.

It was almost like peace breaking out across the front lines and MSPs having a kick about and swapping cigars during a truce. But let's not get carried away, like most truces it didn't last long and the very next day Mr Salmond and Ms Lamont were renewing hostilities once again over, you guessed it, independence.

They went back to playing political Top Trumps, this time citing big business oil bosses on the merits and demerits of independence.

Mr Salmond didn't have a great hand this time so he pulled one from up his sleeve. Let's listen to the Scottish people, not the elite he countered.

With the referendum more than seven months away, this week might be the last time we see the consensus politics the Parliament was meant to bring. But with the vote on September 18 at least we know it will all be over by Christmas.

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