By Richard Wood
Improving Scotland’s democracy is central to Upgrade Holyrood’s mission. Scotland needs better Proportional Representation, a recall rule, an end to dual mandates, and other changes that will ultimately better our country’s democratic design.
Both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Lib Dems supported a recall rule for MSPs that bring parliament into disrepute in their 2021 manifestos. The Conservatives detailed that this would include the right for constituents to recall MSPs if they stopped turning up for six months.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has since renewed his party’s plan, as reported by the BBC.
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Ross said:
“The ex-SNP finance secretary, Derek Mackay, resigned in disgrace and was never seen in parliament again.
“Yet Scottish taxpayers were forced to continue to pay him £100,000.
“In no other job could someone pocket a six-figure salary while hiding at home. So why would we stand for it in the Scottish Parliament?”Douglas Ross
The so-called Mackay’s Law is a welcome proposal and something all parties can and should get behind. That former Minister Derek Mackay was able to claim a salary and not show up for work for over a year is detrimental democratic practice. Voters should be empowered and represented, not diminished and ignored.
However, it is difficult to take the Scottish Conservative leader too seriously on this matter. There is a level of hypocrisy here as Douglas Ross is often absent from his role as an MSP. This is because he is also an MP, and therefore has to be in both Westminster and Holyrood.
He is of course not absent for six months spells, but by holding two roles he is not fully effectively representing his constituents.
READ MORE: 5 reasons to ban dual mandates
Dual mandates are ultimately unfair on voters who deserve full-time representatives in both Edinburgh and London. Not part-timers.
Ross’ proposal of a Mackay’s Law is sound policy that would improve our democracy but the fact he holds a dual mandate makes his position somewhat hypocritical.
Douglas Ross must resign from one of his roles to be taken seriously as someone championing better representative democracy.