I nearly forgot about FMQs today. I was so absorbed in my work that it was 12:11 before I realised and switched it on just as Tavish Scott was enquiring of Alex Salmond for the nth time what is to be discussed at the next meeting of the Cabinet. Seriously, though, why do they bother with those questions? I mean, it's hardly likely Alex is going to turn round and say something like "we cracked open a bottle of pinot grigio and discussed the pros and cons of Susan in Neighbours acting as a surrogate for her daughter." Not that I watch it (yet), but she is, apparently. Twitter says so.
Back to the point, Tavish has had a couple of really good FMQ sessions. Last week he raised the issue of young people being denied a college place and ensured that was dealt with in the budget. Yes, I know, I don't get the abstaining bit either, but that's not important compared to extra support for young people his intervention prompted. Today, I was delighted that he stood up against the roll out of tasers to all Police officers in parts of Strathclyde.
For those of you who don't know, a taser is a stun gun which delivers a 50,000 volt shock. It's a weapon designed to subdue and quell potentially violent situations.
I'm not so sure, and I totally agree with Tavish that the Police should not be issued with what can be a lethal weapon to use at any time without a Minister signing it off. Actually, I'm not keen on their routine use at all, but I don't think that something which alters irrevocably the relationship between the Police and public should be introduced on the subjective say so of the Police.
When Tavish said that this could be a slippery slope to every Police Officer in Scotland carrying these things, he was going on past experience. Look what happened in Canada, where their use did get out of hand and someone died after being repeatedly stunned.
I agree with Tavish that a 3 day training course just isn't enough for officers to carry these things and I fear that, like more guns lead to more dead people, tasers will mean that Police will end up defaulting to them rather than trying to resolve situations by peaceful means.
I have a huge respect for the Police - I have an uncle and several cousins who are or have been serving officers and I know that their attitude to their job was spot on. They were and are proper community policemen who care. I would trust any one of them to act fairly and responsibly. However, when I see things like the inappropriate and way over the top methods used, for example, at the G20 summit with unnecessary and excessive use of the kettling technique, as reported in the Times by Tom Brake MP , I have serious doubts about arming every police officer with such a powerful weapon.