Margo MacDonald: Tide has turned for suicide Bill

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The tide has turned, I believe decisively, in favour of accepting the right of us all to choose to end our lives if they have become intolerable as we approach the end. Opinion polls have been too consistent over the past few years for them to be dismissed.

Also, some very brave people have challenged the law in England. They have been denied the changes they wanted to protect their nearest and dearest from prosecution after they had assisted them to end their lives. But the director of public prosecutions (DPP) ruled that his department would be most unlikely to prosecute anyone who had assisted in a suicide out of love for the person concerned.

Although the DPP has no place in Scots law, the change of attitude did not go unnoticed north of the Border. The first Bill I introduced to the Scottish Parliament had been heavily defeated . . . at face value. I’m pretty sure it had much more support than the vote indicated, but we were in the run-in to the election and none of the parties wanted such a controversial and potentially divisive Bill introduced to complicate their party’s unity.

The Bill, which is now waiting its turn in the queue, is to be investigated by a parliamentary committee and evidence, for and against, taken from the public. The estimate is that the committee will have completed its investigation in time to take its report to the full parliament next February. All of which could mean, fingers crossed, that the Bill is considered on its merits and not as a component part of either the referendum campaign or the general election to the Scottish Parliament.

The letters to the newspapers this week from the Scottish specialist and GP doctors supporting the new Bill is very much welcomed by my support team. These clinicians represent the tip of the iceberg and I expect their lead will be followed by others.

I remain convinced that we will pass the Bill into law in Scotland if people who support that outcome contact their MSPs to ask them to vote for the Bill.

Let’s not show ourselves off in our best light

Oh no, surely Alex Salmond didn’t use Scotland’s top visitor attraction, Edinburgh Castle, to encourage businesspeople to keep on doing business and show them their efforts to grow our economy are appreciated.

Even worse, he entertained Hong Kong business leaders and Arab ambassadors, presumably because he knows that Scotland is on a roll, exporting luxury goods and top-class food and drink into their markets and he wants to encourage more of the same. And what was served to those attending? Roast swan and other exotic nibbles? Well, no, guests were offered the same sort of Scottish fare they would expect at a wedding reception or a special birthday celebration. This is one aspect of his job that the First Minister has got absolutely right.

He’s a bit of a party animal and he’s in his element talking one-to-one. But even if he wasn’t and was as socially constrained as some of our politicians in the past, it would still be a good idea to entertain with as much style and confidence as possible people going out to represent Scotland abroad, and people who visit Scotland.

What other ideas have been suggested by critics of Salmond’s soirees? Perhaps these downmarket diplomats would have preferred an empty warehouse? Some balloons and paper streamers? That would cost next to nothing and would not give the impression of thinking big and trying to play out of our league. Little Scotlanders stick to their comfort zone. They miss the point, and should not be flattered by considering their carping as canny criticism.

As the advert says, if you’ve got it, flaunt it . . . in the best possible taste, of course.

Half measures from Gordon

I KNEW it. Sooner or later, I told my political pals, Big Broon would enter the devolution debate that’s going on among the ironically named Better Together parties and factions of the Labour Party.

While it’s probably true that a few months ago there was a fair proportion of people inclined towards devo max, the ongoing and growing debate has tended to get further down the road to fundamental facts. For example, all tax-raising and spending powers are needed by any government that is serious about redistributing wealth and power.

Gordon Brown knows that and that’s why he’s tied himself in knots to try and achieve the objective without recourse to the only means of doing so . . . full control, not a bit more control of some taxation.