GOOD morning everyone, and welcome to the first session of facilitated talks at the Scottish Parliament aiming to build consensus…




… aiming to build con-




-sensus around how to mitigate against the worst impacts of Brexit on Scotland.

I’d planned to start by setting out some ground rules for these discussions, but I can sense this is going to take up a little more of our time than I’d anticipated.

Our purpose here, as detailed in your invitations, is to come together from across party divides to discuss the best way forward for Scotland. I am heartened that you have all come along for this opening session, but I’m a little concerned that some of you may have misunderstood the purpose of today.

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As you will see, there are no TV cameras here, so there is no audience for any interjections you might feel compelled to make. We have a minute-taker, but he will not be producing a transcript of the meeting. Instead the plan is to agree on non-verbatim discussion minutes. Do we have consensus…




OK ... well in that case I will need to request an additional scribe to produce a full transcript. Let’s adjourn for five minutes.




Right, so I think we’re ready to start again. Let the minutes note that the meeting has resumed and a full transcript will be produced from this point on. To recap, we are here today to commence cross-party talks about the future of Scotland after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Rather than amplifying difference, our aim is to maximise consensus...




RIGHT. It appears we do not have … agreement on anything at this time. But at a bare minimum it seems we are going to have to agree a policy of not heckling any time someone mentions … the c-word.

I object!

Who said that? Ah, Mr Carlaw. Would you like to elaborate on your thoughts about this proposal?

Yes I would. We don’t see any evidence there is a demand from the people of Scotland to review the decision we took at the start of this meeting to shout out every time someone suggests we might be in agreement with anything uttered by a divisive nationalist.

Firstly, Mr Carlaw, I think you’ll find that I am a respected and independent individual, not a “nationalist”. I am merely brokering and facilitating these discussions – I will take no part in proposing ideas and will make no representations for or against the ideas proposed by others. Secondly, is it reasonable to assume the Scottish people are in agreement with your party’s position on how these talks are conducted? I’m not sure how you could have gauged...

The National: Jackson CarlawJackson Carlaw

We don’t see that a ban on heckling is called for. I don’t see how it would help put right problems with Scottish schools and hospitals.

Well, perhaps if we can make some progress through the agenda, we might be able to get on to discussing more substantive issues such as the ones you just mentioned. We are, after all, here to discuss the future of Scotland. So, may I ask again if we can agree on a policy of not shouting out?

We have made it very clear that we don’t think that is justified.

Well, in the spirit of compromise, could we limit the interjections? Perhaps a ban on booing, honking and growling? If things continue as they are, we will have to terminate the meeting and release an official statement saying these talks were abandoned because one of your colleagues kept going “Blark!”

That wasn’t one of my colleagues – that was a LibDem.

Mr Carlaw!

Fine then.

Right, so we’re all agreed? Now we can finally make some headway. I have collated your initial suggestions of topics for discussion, which are as follows, in alphabetical order: agriculture, civil rights, crime and security, defence, health, higher education, immigration, social security, terrorism...


Who said that? WHO SAID IT? Was that a topic suggestion? Shall I add it to the list after terrorism? No. Right, so to continue ... what’s that? How do you spell it? Oh, for God’s sake. Do you really need to ... yes, OK, I did say a full transcript.

I would say it’s h-a-r-r-u-m-p-h.

I am now unilaterally widening the previously agreed ban to include all forms of grumbling and sighing. If anyone has a problem with that, they can leave right now.

What about hooting? Is hooting still allowed?

There will be absolutely no call for any hooting of any kind.

What if the thought of having any sort of grown-up conversation about Scotland’s future makes us want to emit a high-pitched wail, something along the lines of “Eeee! Eeee!”


What about...

That’s it – I quit!