Mary Fee MSP may not be a household name in Scotland. She may not be a household name in the West of Scotland, which elected her to the Scottish Parliament in respect of the Labour Party in 2011.
She is, however, someone who clearly takes her new responsibilities in the parliament seriously, and is keen to air and answer her constituents' concerns in the great public debates of the day. Recently, she has been approached by people she represents, anxious for reassurance that all foreign travel shan't be cancelled immediately when Scotland becomes independent, and their passports would still be good for the occasional jaunt to sunnier climes Reasonable concerns, you might well think. To allay the anxieties she had encountered "on the doorstep", the good Mrs Fee tabled a question in parliament last week...
"To ask the Scottish Government when a Scottish passport system will be in place if Scotland separates from the rest of the United Kingdom."
Fee also seems keen to visit foreign embassies after independence too. And who could hold that against her? Many of them have pleasing catering facilities, the occasional free glass of fizz, attractive marble interiors and beguiling neo-classical façades. In supplement to her original enquiry, she asked "Will Scottish people have access to British embassies around the world after separation?", which I assume really means, will we receive consular protection from a foreign power? Springy External Affairs Minister, Humza Yousaf couldn't resist playing the smart Alex in response to these questions, saying:
"Mary Fee can reassure her constituents that we have always said that we would have inclusive and open citizenship—unless she has information that the United Kingdom Government will give dual citizenship to people of every nation on this earth except an independent Scotland. We will give details in the white paper later this year. The member can reassure people that the sky will not fall in, the earth will not swallow up her constituents and the Messiah will not have to postpone his second coming, come an independent Scotland."
Answer came there none. Parliament toddled ponderously on. Darth Murdo Fraser asked about wind turbines. End of story? Gloriously, not so. In defiance of all satire, Mrs Fee didn't shrug this off as the impertinent answer from a pert young man. Oh no. Instead she seems to have regard Humza's jesting reference to the Messiah as a scandalous piece of religious provocation. To all religions. Including the ones without any creed of messianic prophecy.
“I asked the Scottish Government a sincere and genuine question on how a new Scottish passport system would operate if Scotland breaks away from the UK, and for Humza Yousaf to show his contempt and derision for constituents that have come to me is a disgrace and unworthy for the position he holds in the Scottish Government. It is also offensive to anyone of religion to claim that the Messiah would not have to postpone his second coming if Scotland separates from the United Kingdom next year. My constituents deserve better and I will continue to represent their views, concerns and questions in the Scottish Parliament, while members of the SNP Scottish Government mock and jeer at such concerns.”
Try to wrap your noggin around that one. Not even Dawkins gets true believers riled up this easily. For what it's worth, I always harboured a nervous suspicion that the Messiah would reappear in Cowdenbeath. Now there's a positive case for the Union: Better Together for the Rapture, arriving right on time. After all, it's cold out there, an independent Scotland's experience of the Last Days would be awfully unpredictable, and we sinners could do with the company...