I wasn’t going to go all political over Christmas, but @andyreeves on Twitter has raised the fact that an SNP MSP has demanded the end of dual mandates as per the Kelly Report and I can’t resist a wee comment.
I think the most important thing about this debate is not that a couple of Labour MSPs are standing for the UK parliament, nor that Alex Salmond is presently a dual mandate MP/MSP. I think that’s best left up to voters. It’s that it seems horribly obvious that Kelly stepped miles outside of his mandate and competence to make the proposal in the first place yet it looks like becoming received orthodoxy.
Did he really mean to prevent movement between the parliaments? Did he give any thought to Councillors or Peers? Was it his place to say who people could and could’t vote for in any case? Most crucially, is it really appropriate that a constitutional matter like this should have been approached on the basis of cost reduction?
It would be a very simple matter to say that an elected representative can only receive one salary if they are dual-mandated. So if cost-reduction was Kelly’s intent that would have been the logical recommendation. But Kelly seems to have deliberately gone beyond this to recommend a constitutional measure which should surely be a matter of wide democratic debate. He is, after all, demanding a pretty significant constraint on the principle of political freewill, albeit one at the margins of everyday practice.
For the record, you know how it is, I’ll never seek election to any other parliament than the one I’m a member of and I think most of Kelly’s recommendations are fairly sensible. But I am alarmed that any single individual should claim the right to change the constitution without further discussion.