Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 25th March 2002

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Contents of this page (scroll down the page to see the full text of the article which interests you)

- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother dies (31 March 2002)

- Scottish Parliament Votes for its Numbers to Remain Unchanged (29 March 2002)

- Scout (13) is killed in knot prank - or was it suicide? (27 March 2002)


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother dies (31 March 2002)

HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, died on 30th March 2002 in her 102nd year. She was born Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon on 4th August 1900, and was the ninth of ten children and youngest daughter of Lord Glamis, later the 14th Earl of Strathmore and head of an aristocratic Scottish family. She is generally reckoned to have been a stabilising influence on the role of the monarchy in the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the abdication of King Edward VIII (the elder brother of her husband), an unforeseen event which resulted in her husband becoming King (King George VI).

Scottish Parliament Votes for its Numbers to Remain Unchanged (29 March 2002)

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the changes to the number of Westminster parliamentary constituencies in Scotland recommended by the Boundary Commission [Scottish Parliamentary Seats and the Boundary Commission] - now the Scottish Parliament has purported to vote on whether its numbers should follow the law as laid down in the Scotland Act 1998 by reducing its own numbers in terms of that Act in accordance with the reduction in numbers at Westminster.

An amendment to this motion was tabled by David McLetchie, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives - as a Scottish lawyer, he should really know better, although one can perhaps forgive him because he wished to make the point I am about to make, I imagine! The Scotland Act 1998 is the primary legislation which created the Scottish Parliament and only the UK Parliament at Westminster can amend such legislation, however much the Members of the Scottish Parliament debate (i.e. bleat about) this. For the record, Mr McLetchie's amendment to reduce the number of MSPs from 129 to 108 was defeated by 100 votes to 18. Presumably the 11 MSPs who appear not to have voted were elsewhere on more important business?

It is too soon to know how this will develop in my view - the Labour Government in London would probably, instinctively, wish to allow the Scottish Parliament to retain its existing numbers (even though this would require an amendment to the Scotland Act 1998 which it passed only four years ago) because this will prove popular with its own Party members who are the majority of the membership of the Scottish Parliament (swathes of central Scotland have been Labour 'fiedoms' for decades), but it is not clear how widespread this policy would be amongst Westminster MPs, even Labour ones who have to try and 'sell' this policy to their own electorates  in England at the next General Election.

There is no requirement to vary the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 - the numbers of MSPs must be reduced in accordance with its current terms.

Scout (13) is killed in knot prank - or was it suicide? (27 March 2002)

It is reported that a boy of 13 was found hanged after "accidentally hanging himself while practising knots at a Scout hall" in a small town in Aberdeenshire (Scotland). The television news report of the incident yesterday evening indicated that "no others were involved and that there were no suspicious circumstances".

My antennae for a cover story were already on high-alert when I heard the report, but today it is reported in a major newspaper here that "He was found in the lavatory on Friday night with a rope around his neck" - rather different, I think, from the implication in the earlier reports that he was in the hall "in charge of a group tying knots". Although it is not entirely clear from the reports, one assumes that there was a Scout meeting in the hall, because it is reported that "Scout leaders tried for 25 minutes to resuscitate him".

It would appear therefore that this boy left the hall on his own and went to the lavatory, where he tied a knot around his neck and ending up hanging himself - we are told this was a 'prank' - and was found later, no doubt being missed in the hall. This boy is described as a Scout patrol leader - someone who presumably had a little more idea than some of those in his patrol of the way to tie knots and the potential dangers of putting one round his neck 'for a prank'.

His mother is quoted as saying: "He seems to have had a rope around his neck and somehow managed to cut off his air supply. It seems to have been a prank that went wrong." She went on to say: "He liked his fashion, music and girls. He was planning to join the Air Cadets and wanted to be a pilot."

This whole story does not ring true. It sounds like a suicide to me. The sub-text of his mother's statement that "He liked his fashion, music and girls" seems to be, in reality, a statement that her son was not 'gay', or any kind of 'cissy boy'. I have no idea whether the boy either committed suicide or was gay. What I can imagine, though, is that some of the other Scouts, perhaps those in his patrol, taunted him (seriously or jokingly) that he was gay or for some other reason and that he, being upset, went to the lavatory where he proceeded to hang himself. I can also surmise that the verdict of death by accident was reached because, as the boy was dead and nothing can (unfortunately) bring him back, it was felt less damaging/shameful to his memory (and to his mother's/family's sensibilities) for an accidental death to be recorded, rather than a suicide or have it suspected that he might have been developing gay feelings. Society still has a long way to go before it can face up to certain aspects of humanity, if my reading of this report is in any way accurate.

Whatever the truth, it is very sad.


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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron