EMBARGO: Thursday 25 November 2021, 00:01 hrs



ALBA Party Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP has sent a further letter to the Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone MSP challenging the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) to publish the justification for the introduction of new powers contained in The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Scottish Sites under Section 129) Order 2021 (SI 2021, No. 1021) to limit demonstrations and protest at the Scottish Parliament building and grounds which came into force on 1 October. 

Mr MacAskill, a former Justice Secretary in the Scottish Government and now MP for East Lothian, has been seeking answers since these powers were first requested by the SPCB.  This is the fourth letter which he has written to the Presiding Officer on the subject.

The Presiding Officer wrote to Mr MacAskill MP on 17 November to state that the Parliament’s actions were based on actions which “could exceed the scope of peaceful protest and hinder reasonable access to the Parliament and its grounds”.  The letter also states: “We have seen an increase in these sort of situations”.

In his letter Mr MacAskill MP states: “Those would obviously be serious situations giving rise to police actions and perhaps even prosecution. Can I therefore once again request that you detail just when and what those situations were. I assume that they would be matters of public record with police actions and court convictions duly recorded. At minimum given the media presence in Holyrood I assume that they will be duly reported and again reference would be welcome. This is a draconian step and it requires to be justified. Reference to ‘these sorts of situations’ is vague and lacking substance. I cannot see any public interest reason for withholding the precise incidents upon which you are basing this action and accordingly look forward to further clarification.”

In a statement Mr MacAskill said:

“These new powers ride a coach and horses through Scotland’s democratic traditions and pose a clear threat to civil liberties.  The Presiding Officer and her colleagues on the SPCB have a duty to be frank with the public and to be true to the Parliament’s own key principles which require them to be accountable and open.  That is why I am calling on the Presiding Officer to come clean on the supposed justification for these far reaching and draconian powers.

“The Presiding Officer and the SPCB assert that these powers are necessary so as deal with the increase in incidents which ‘exceed the scope of peaceful protest and hinder reasonable access’.  However it is not enough to assert this it is necessary to evidence this by providing the examples of where existing police powers have proved inadequate.  Such incidents would obviously be serious situations giving rise to police actions and prosecutions.  It is therefore incumbent on the Presiding Officer to detail the incidents which she says are the basis for acquiring these additional powers.

“The information which I have requested is information which the public quite rightly expect about the reasons for limiting their right to protest at our national Parliament, after all these are powers which could see them removed under threat of criminal prosecution.  

“COP26 showed that it was possible for the police to ensure public order and safety without recourse to additional draconian powers.  Like many others including Amnesty International and the recent SNP Conference I remain unconvinced that these powers serve any meaningful purpose other than to create  barriers between the public and those they elect”.   


Notes to Editors:

  1. Letter to Alison Johnstone MSP is attached. 
  2. The new powers were requested of the Home Office by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
  3. These additional powers are set out in the Statutory Instrument, The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Scottish Sites under Section 129) Order 2021 (SI 2021, No. 1021).  The wording of the Order can be viewed here: The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Scottish Sites under Section 129) Order 2021 (
  4. The introduction of this new law was condemned at the time by Amnesty International and by a resolution of the SNP Conference. Moves by ALBA MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey to have the issue debated in the House of Commons, while ultimately unsuccessful, were supported by the SNP MPs Douglas Chapman and Joanna Cherry.


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  1. I have a feeling that like the hate crime bill , these powers are not there because of any previous incidents and more to do with expected incidents when the people of Scotland wake up

    Liked by 17 people

  2. I would go along with Bob’s interpretation because some of us are already aware of the rank corruption and despicable actions these morons and troughers are carrying out and hopefully a lot more of the voting public will become aware , they would already be aware of the gross ineptitude of ALL politicians in HR if ONLY we had an honest MSM with integrity reporting the TRUTH
    A MSM that is supposed to hold government to account and report corruption and malfeasance to it’s readership , but this lot of hacks are just as corrupt as the people they are supposed to EXPOSE

    Liked by 15 people

  3. Sad that it takes an MP to challenge what 129 MSPs are up to! The role of the SPCB has concerned me for some time; it should be “opened up” to have lay representation. Why do we the public have no say in how Holyrood operates on a day to day basis?

    Liked by 15 people

  4. Well done Kenny and Alba, thanks for keeping this in the forefront. I try to keep up with the implications of the stuff that goes on in lieu of politics, but missed this. The Rev would have picked it up and made it clear, Wings sadly missed, so thanks for this clarity. and stamina

    Liked by 13 people

  5. Recipe for Sturgeon pie .

    In a small fish bowl take 90 instagrams of selfie-raising flannel

    24 gender fluid ounces of cold water ( to pour on expectations )

    2 Teaspoons of Green tea leaves

    A drop or two of angus robertson bitters

    A tweet of pete ( or a bravura of blackford currants to taste )

    Mix thoroughly with plank of wood ( a Swinney would suffice for this )

    Place in oven at very low temperature for 30 years ( or a generation , depending on medium ie laughing gas or elec trickery )

    Et Voila !

    nb * could cause indigestion if consumed whilst thinking *

    Good on Kenny . I expect the sound of silence will follow

    Liked by 11 people

  6. Once again all you have to do is look at history. The rules and powers are slowly amended until the tipping point at which control is achieved. If you need a current example look at the SNP rule book. She achieved absolute control with a handful of people and the silence of the members. Even if the members wanted to now they cannot remove her.

    When people tell you who they are..believe them!

    Liked by 16 people

  7. The increasing frequency of the use of the word “draconian” when referring to the activities and pronouncements of the SNP government must be of growing concern to Scots who follow and on occasion add political comment to discussions. I doubt Kenny will get a satisfactory answer but he is to be applauded for his efforts on behalf of Scots who are being denied the right to protest where they would be best placed to get their message over to those that they pay good money to represent them.

    Liked by 17 people

  8. I’m glad Kenny didn’t let her off the hook with her evasive

    ” “could exceed the scope of peaceful protest and hinder reasonable access to the Parliament and its grounds”. The
    letter also states: “We have seen an increase in these sort of situations”.”

    It’s a disgrace and they should be forced to explain themselves.

    I wish he hadn’t mentioned COP26 though. Sections of Glasgow near the venue were cordoned off and inaccessible even to residents. (Remember the reception at the Art Gallery and young women being forced to walk long detours in the Kelvingrove in the dark with obvious attendant risks!) That gives Alison Johnson an out.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. The Scottish legislature has become a 5th column on behalf of a power residing outwith Scotland’s borders. That, on the face things, would appear to many as an extreme assertion, but given that legislative extremism is a discernible feature of Hollyrood, perhaps it may not be as extreme as might first appear.

    This piece of legislation, hurriedly enabled as it was from outwith Scotland’s borders, isn’t in place for any idle purpose. It might be safely assumed that it’s there to counter the expectation of civil unrest in the future around the environs of the Scottish parliament. What might promote such unrest isn’t quite clear yet, of course. But what does seem clear is that we’ve entered a period wherein extreme vigilance of our legislators will be paramount.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. Democracy is under attack, and our own Scottish Parliament and Government are as vulnerable as any, and probably more than most given the nature of its so-called ‘mother’, an entity that likes to think of itself as ‘the mother of parliaments’, completely oblivious to its own severe democratic shortcomings, and which insists that our Scottish Parliament is entirely subordinate to it without clear, relevant, and evidenced justification.

    From the preface to ‘Democracy and Its Crisis’ by A.C.Grayling:

    ‘Democracy’ has been given many meanings, and the word ‘democratic’ has even been used to describe political systems that are anything but democratic, those typically known as ‘The People’s Democratic Republic of X’. But one system of democracy – representative democracy – was painstakingly thought out and constructed with the aim of making democracy really work, and was applied in almost all of what we think of as the ‘liberal democracies of the Western world’. But in at least two of its leading examples in today’s world, the United States and the United Kingdom, representative democracy has been made to fail. Notice these words: ‘made to fail’. I argue that if the ideas that underlie the concept of representative democracy were properly and transparently applied, democracy would truly be, as Winston Churchill claimed, the least bad of all systems. But it has been made to fail by a combination of causes, all of them deliberate.

    His Brexit analysis in the appendix was very interesting!

    Liked by 5 people

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