Fraser Stewart: Why the furore around James Kelly being kicked out of Holyrood isn't funny

CommonSpace columnist Fraser Stewart argues the 'James Kelly incident' is exactly the kind of politics Scotland doesn't want

"SIT DOON, shut up or pick a windae!" screamed the presiding officer, in the general direction of James Kelly MSP.

"Get it up ye'! Naw a willnae!" roared Kelly in defiance.

"Whit a bairn!" taunted the SNP.

"Censorship!" retorted Labour, as if anyone was listening.

Is this our 'new politics'? The politics that we like to boast is a million miles from the Westminster circus? The theatrics, the heckling, the media furore over who dun wot and why that makes them a bastard?

Call me crazy, but I genuinely do not care that James Kelly got himself thrown out of the Holyrood chamber. I do not care that he was being awkward, or petulant, or entirely immature (which I'm sure even he would have to admit to). And neither should any of us.

Is this our 'new politics'? The politics that we like to boast is a million miles from the Westminster circus? The theatrics, the heckling, the media furore over who dun wot and why that makes them a bastard?

We've spent almost two decades attempting to establish a more consensual - or at least mildly dignified - style of parliament, and this is where we are.

Yes, James Kelly was being deliberately obtuse. Yes, the presiding officer was out of line for clamping a three-minute legislative motion after 40 seconds. You're both right. Well done. A medal to each team for your participation in the 'who-fucking-cares' Holyrood games.

Instead of examining substance, we're stuck on drama; a somewhat exacerbating hark back to the Westminster & Co. pantomime. We could be having a debate about the role of the presiding officer and the questions of legitimacy surrounding the post.

We've spent almost two decades attempting to establish a more consensual - or at least mildly dignified - style of parliament, and this is where we are.

We could be having the actual Trade Union Bill debate - wouldn't that be nice? We could be examining why the SNP suddenly fell quiet on the legislative consent aspect, or - even better - the function of trade unions in the wider modern context.

But no. James Kelly MSP removed from parliament for refusing to sit down: stop the press. It is precisely this brand of tabloid politics that was supposed to be left at the border in 1999 - the kind that separates the pig-fuckers from the productive; that encourages the media to engage in meaningful discussion and the dissemination of useful information, instead of wetting frillies over whichever morsel of a scandalous headline they can wring out of the system.

The kind of soap opera that encourages tribalism, point-scoring and he-said-she-said playground hair-pulling - the kind that actively wills people into switching off. We have been fortunate enough to escape the captivity of the freak show; the last thing we should be doing is in anyway fuelling the fire of similar ridiculousness.

The James Kelly incident (if you can call it that) is thus a needless stain on the relatively short history of Holyrood, largely thanks to sensation-thirsty reporting and the subsequent social media maelstrom, when it could have just as easily served as the trigger for a number of debates we really ought to be having.

The James Kelly incident (if you can call it that) is thus a needless stain on the relatively short history of Holyrood, largely thanks to sensation-thirsty reporting and the subsequent social media maelstrom.

Scottish politics is in a great position position post-referendum, with a whole new audience prepared to grant that most elusive of democratic dreams: participation.

We must take care not to become the caricature from which we so self-righteously claim to be distanced, by treating trivial nonsense like this with the kind of dismissal it deserves.

The sooner we can get back to important - albeit undramatic - business as usual, the better.

Picture courtesy of Twitter