AFTER 63 days, the Scottish Parliament returns tomorrow. But should recesses lasting two months be dumped as 21st century anachronisms?

The Scottish recess started on June 29. Westminster returns on September 6 but rose on July 22.

Long recesses widen the divide between politicians and public. They began centuries ago when those “elected” by the rotten boroughs wanted more time on their estates to slaughter wildlife and sexually harass the housemaids.

The timing has not changed radically since then.

Recesses are another signal of political privilege in the public mind, indicating that politicians are special people, who deserve special thinking time for their great minds.

There were a couple of recalls this summer and MSPs lost a February break because of the elections.

But I’m talking about the luxurious time allowed in normal times. In average years, Holyrood is in recess for around 116 days, Westminster for 132.

In Scotland, that means seven months of the year are butted into by recesses – including the first seven days of January, plus breaks in February, April, July and August, October and December.

Westminster has reduced its summer but makes up for it by inserting 14 days for Whitsun in May. They also stretch Mayday into a five-day break for themselves, not to honour the workers – don’t be silly!

A recess is not a holiday in any official way. Good MSPs work well through it apart from having an ordinary holiday. I know some, cross party, and respect them. Way back, the first Scottish Parliament astonished me when it accepted being Westminsterised on recesses.

As for stress, try telling a bus or train driver or an NHS frontline worker how stressful politics is.

Get real, people! The UK has 917,000 on zero-hours contracts without one paid day off; Scotland has 62,000 at the latest estimate this summer. An unknown additional multitude isn’t on any kind of contract.

At Holyrood, there’s nothing visible to stop slackers, no “what I did in the recess” requests from parties.

All governments use recesses to churn out propaganda on better times ahead. I call these the cappuccino promises – more froth than coffee.

The small print reveals that Big Change is years off but not to worry because a) you may be dead; b) if not dead, you will have forgotten.

Zoom has shown everyone online meetings do help. Of course, that spoils the pleasure of politics for some – plotting, whispering, clyping, death stares aren’t so effective on Zoom.

BUT to some the summer recess has become sacrosanct to some. Westminster’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (below) has still not been sacked for holidaying in Greece as Afghanistan was seized by the Taliban. He could have stayed in the UK but had no care over going so far off despite Covid and transport risks. Three mandarins who should have been involved were also off duty somewhere.

The National:

But before Raab went missing, he had already proved he was qualifiedfor only one role – as a new flavour of pot noodle.

This is the eejit who, as Brexit Secretary, stated that he “hadn’t quite understood the full extent of how UK trade was particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing”.

Solution for a man who can’t study a map: promote Raab to Foreign Secretary.

Johnson doesn’t want to sack anyone as they might have their own Black Book Of Bad Boris Stuff.

At first, Johnson even protected former health secretary Matt Hancock until hanky panky was upgraded to VMHP – Very Manky Hanky Panky as the office gropers broke Covid rules. Remember, all gropers – wear masks.

But in Scotland political privilege covers no-one being sacked for anything awful in politics. We still aren’t told the total loss of public money and time, likely to run into millions, through the appalling official handling of the Alex Salmond situation.

The grotesque bungling, the doomed initial court case, the gross delays, the refusals to produce evidence, showed this was way beyond the scale of average stupidity and incompetence. But no heads rolled. Jobs, status and pensions remained safe in the civil service.

PROTECTING the aristocracy years back has shifted to aiding the bamocracy. Please, newbies at Holyrood, beware of the arrogance which rises like swamp gas within politics, seeping into the bloodstreams of the unwary.

The Scottish Parliament’s reason for long recesses was given as making politics more female friendly. Aye, right. I was a mother-of-three when in that first Parliament. I worked most of the recess because I felt uncomfortable with so much need pouring in.

Public misery does not abate in summer. Party conferences waste time in autumn when they could be shoved into the summer break.

Idlers in recess may in fact be prized by some in party hierarchies – they’re ballast against rocking the boat, the sheer nothingness of their achievements means the meek may inherit the quango earth.

They can move on to appointments to our many public boards and bodies, some of them Potemkin villages with little behind the shiny façade. The ultimate privileges go to “a safe pair of hands”, which often means a deadhand ensuring no change.