There's nowt quite like an anniversary to make me feel my age (though i've felt twice my age since Giz and Ali's wedding and the ensuing all-weekender.) So it's fair frazzed ma heid to read that today's precisely 10 years since the first elections to the Scottish Parliament. Holy crap - a whole decade.
Devolution was something i'd marched and postered and leafleted and argued in favour of since the late 70's. Before i could legally vote, the Labour Government of the day in Westminster rigged a referendum on devolution in 1979. That was followed by those dreadful years of Thatcher's Tories - so utterly out of step with Scotland that by 1997, the Tories ended up with zero out of 77 Scottish MPs.
After all that, it was hugely exciting then a major relief and then a bit of an anti-climax to finally get our Parliament in 1999. Voting in a purely Scottish election was a genuine thrill for me since we had an effective form of Proportional Representation in place. This gave us MSPs from the Green and Scottish Socialist Parties as well as independents and erm...all those other usual suspects.
Diversity at last, but the first Lab/Lib coalition soon disappointed with their lack of imagination and fear of offending the bosses in London. Things improved though and the Parliament has delivered some excellent legislation and managed its budget in a generally even handed and redistributive way. Its social policies have been progressive and in its own limited way it's brought government in Scotland much closer to the people of Scotland and their wishes.
However, the Parliament did not stop us going to war with Iraq. It hasn't removed nuclear weapons or the threat of more nuclear power plants on our soil. It has failed to protect us from all the so called anti-terror legislation which increasingly slashes our civil liberties. It hasn't taken us any closer to Europe and it hasn't raised our profile in the world. What I've seen of the Scottish Parliament in practise has lead me to conclude that Scotland can govern itself well and would do even better with more executive powers.
It's only in the last few years that i've been genuinely convinced of the need for independence. But now it's time to get on board with the Scottish Independence Convention and i'm marking 10 years of the Parliament by signing up today. Geez it.