It's going to be quite an occasion for the 129, particularly as so many of them are new.
I'm thinking particularly of Willie Rennie who is the only new member of our depleted contingent, but also of Alison Johnstone, the new Green MSP for Lothians, who impressed me at several health hustings during the campaign. I expect I'll be in touch with her a lot over the next five years.
Each MSP will have less than 2 minutes in the spotlight as they are individually sworn in. Those nice people at the Scottish Parliament web team have outlined the process here. Many of them will dress up in traditional costume, or take the oath in English and then a different language. We'll see Scots, Urdu, Doric, Gaelic and Italian today.
The oath itself says:
“I (Member’s Name), do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Her Heirs and Successors, according to Law. So help me God.”Members who wish to can affirm:
“I (Member’s Name), do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Her Heirs and Successors, according to Law.”And that's it. Oaths of office are not the most exciting things, but this one needs a bit of work.I can live with swearing allegiance to the Head of State, but as someone who helped choose this Parliament, I'd like to get a bit of a look in. Call me selfish, but I'd kind of like those 129 people to remember the people they are there to serve in some way. I want the oath to mean something.
There are examples from around the world which are better than ours. This, from the Netherlands:
I swear (affirm) allegiance to the King, to the Statute for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and to the Constitution. I swear (affirm) that I will faithfully perform the duties my office lays upon me. So help me God almighty! (This I declare and affirm)Ok, so we don't have a constitution, but Holyrood has rules and that's a simple oath that means a bit more. No mention of serving the people, though, but it's an improvement.
There's a Scotland Bill going through both Westminster and Holyrood at the moment.Why don't they take the opportunity to amend it to include a different oath? I know it's not the biggest priority in the whole world, and is probably the equivalent of tidying the sock drawer when there's a rat sitting on the kitchen bin, but it's worth doing. I don't want a committee to take a year to scrap over wording. There must be something quick and easy everyone can agree on.What do you think?