All too often, the massed rows behind Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs can resemble a scene from one of Stalin's party congresses. Row after row of poker-faced nationalists dutifully banging their desks at the latest edict from on high, interjecting occasionally with the latest pre-approved attack line or standard softball question to the Dear Leader: an army of grey-suited cyber-men, without the heart.
Yet the counter-argument to such a model of uninspired conformity can be found in the form of John Mason MSP, the maverick member for Glasgow Shettleston since 2011. Over the past decade, the nationalist nut has been more of a fixture in the national headlines than Rod Stewart or Kirsty Gallacher, so often has he blundered inelegantly into the political spotlight.
Whether it was lauding the Irish Republican Army as 'freedom fighters' or conflating the national deficit with debt, comparing the Celtic child sex abuse scandal to tax avoidance or accusations of trivialising rape culture, Mason has been a mainstay of the Scottish press for longer than he or his colleagues would care to admit.
Now the longtime SNP man – whose faith in independence is only outstripped by that in Christ – has tabled a motion at Holyrood, lionising St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland ahead of the national day on Tuesday. It reads:
“That the Parliament notes that Scotland is the sole part of the British Isles whose patron saint, Andrew, is mentioned in The Bible; believes that Andrew, a fisherman by trade, was called by Jesus to be one of his 12 disciples and is credited with first introducing his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus with the words, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41, NIV); notes that, according to the Gospel of John, it was Andrew who presented the boy with the five loaves and two fish to Jesus immediately prior to the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand; considers that Scotland is fortunate to be aligned with a patron of such outstanding heritage, and looks forward to remembering and celebrating the legacy of St Andrew on 30 November 2021.
Not content with lauding Scotland for being the 'sole part of the British Isles whose patron saint is mentioned in the Bible,' Mason emailed around all MSP researchers to really spell out the Scottish exceptionalism element of the country's national icon: 'the motion below... emphasises what we know about Andrew (from the Bible)... in contrast to George, Patrick and David (whom we do not find in the Bible!).'
Given the many attempts of the SNP to grievance-monger in recent years, Mr S would instead advise Mason to turn to Romans for further biblical words of wisdom: 'I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.'
Sentiments for the ardent nationalist to reflect on next time?