The Official Report welcomes all MSPs newly elected to the Scottish Parliament. It’ll be a few days before you have to grapple with your first speech in the Scottish Parliament so let us give you a head start. The whip tells you it will be in a debate on the common agricultural policy. What now?
Aside from stating that the CAP is the modern equivalent of the Schleswig-Holstein question—in that you’re fairly certain only three people max have ever really understood it—you’re not sure what to say. What do you do?
Help is at hand! You and your staff can use the “Alphabetical list of debates” in the Official Report webpages to find all the previous debates on the CAP and check what points you might want to revisit, refute or rehearse.
Or, if you want to pull your fine-toothed comb through what a particular member has said on the subject, you can use the Official Report search function, selecting the member’s name from the drop-down menu. The advanced search offers you even more options.
Hey presto, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips to inform your first recorded words in the chamber.
It was nerve-wracking. It was exhilarating. It was nearly everything you wanted it to be. Apart from when you mentioned the wrong European Commissioner and talked about billions of pounds instead of euros. You even had the right name and currency in your script! But everyone makes mistakes like that sometimes.
Speaking of your script, you’ve just received a note from the Official Report team asking for a copy. It was on your tablet, so you ping it to them by email, wondering—perhaps even fretting slightly—about what they’ll do with the bits where you said something radically different from what you’d written.
You needn’t have worried at all. After requesting a draft of the transcript and having it emailed to you, you see that both mistakes have been corrected—they were obvious, after all—and the report reflects what you said.
Later, you find out that your colleague who said “common fisheries policy” by accident is in a slightly different boat: another member quipped about his “red herrings”, so his references to the CFP had to stay as he said them.
Riding high on the buzz of your speech, you’re eager to show your constituents how you’ve hit the ground running. The Official Report of the debate is being published and updated continually throughout the afternoon so, only a couple of hours after you spoke, you and your staff are clicking the share button next to your name on the web page to share the speech on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Twitter and Facebook: funny old worlds, aren’t they. Who’d have thought you’d end the day discussing with the Twitterati exactly where Schleswig-Holstein is and what the question was? Still, you roll into bed full of the satisfaction of a successful day.