NOTHING illustrates contradictions in our society like spending millions of pounds of public money on a royal pageant during a cost-of-living crisis. 

The haves and the have nots. Twas ever thus. How do we still manage to put bunting around our hypocrisy and celebrate it in the 21st century? 

At least the Romans put on free food, festivals and gladiator shows for the plebs. It was a proper knees-up – unless you were an unfortunate ex-gladiator. 

Two thousand years later and we only get to watch the royal and political elites enjoying themselves courtesy of the telly. 

Seeing Boris Johnson being royally booed by crowds as he entered St Paul’s Cathedral was perhaps a small moment of karma (before some later news reports edited out the boos). 

The man who cannot be sacked. Clinging onto power tighter than a limpet. Of course, it only happens because of patronage. 

The glue that binds our archaic constitution and body politic together is a combination of jobs for cronies, power for the few, favours for the loyal and ridiculous titles and honours for supine supporters of an unjust hereditary system. 

If a fish rots from the head, our immoral and unethical taciturnity comes from the top. 
No-one’s told us, but we’re still living in a Charles Dickens novel. As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us every one!”. 

What hope for a new Scotland? Most of our political leaders in Scotland want to retain the monarchy. Even if we became independent. 

Seriously, is that the ambition? Retain a medieval system of reward not based on need or merit but accident of birth. 

You have to ask yourself a tough question: what’s the point of Scotland becoming independent if we only change the United Kingdom brass plate for a Scottish one? 

When I voted for devolution back in 1997, I never envisaged we would create a political class in Holyrood comparable to Westminster. 

The first Scottish Parliament in 1999 was a different creature – less secrecy, less ministers, less special advisers and a government more open to ideas from the people it served. 

There was a sense of hope and genuine aspiration. 

Closing the attainment gap between the richest and poorest school pupils was the “defining mission” in 2016. That gap has grown significantly since 2018/19. 

Last year Audit Scotland said: “Progress on closing the attainment gap has been limited and falls short of the Scottish Government’s aims.” 

Now the target to close the attainment gap has been ditched like a cardboard ferry funnel.

NHS waiting times are up and patient satisfaction with Scottish NHS GPs is down. 

Drug deaths continue to rise in Scotland and overall life expectancy has reduced, with Glasgow having the lowest life expectancy in the UK. 

We seem to fritter away hundreds of millions of taxpayer pounds on poor private sector buy-outs or vanity projects, despite having more ministers than at any other time in the lifetime of the Scottish Parliament.

Last week’s spending review was grim. Frozen local government and justice budgets for the next five years. 

Legal aid fees for criminal defence work are only 10% more than they were in 1999. 

Now, civil and criminal legal aid face real term cuts of 20% by 2027. 

The prospect of more legal aid deserts across Scotland is now inevitable, with older legal aid practitioners retiring and fewer new entrants joining that side of the profession.

The voice of local government in Scotland, Cosla, fears for the future: “The implications of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the rest of the parliament are deeply concerning for communities across Scotland and fail to recognise the fundamental role local government has in addressing the government’s own priorities of child poverty, climate change and a stronger economy.”

The Scottish Government’s solution to balance its budget is to “reset” the public sector by losing 30,000 staff – which equates to almost 7% of the present public sector workforce.

It’s difficult to see how taking an axe to health and local government jobs is going to help people who rely on those services or help with the cost-of-living crisis. 

Revenue from Scottish income tax has been less than projected and we spend much more than we make. Albeit we don’t seem to be spending wisely in many well-intentioned ventures and initiatives. 

Perhaps we can have some leadership from the top in Scotland? 

Why don’t we cut back the cost of ministers, their advisers and expenses by 7% with a flat budget until 2027? It’s all very well to tell people they have to endure real term cuts while budget cuts don’t apply to you. Alternatively, we can get out more bunting.