THE MORNINGS AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

It's been more than a little strange observing the election and its immediate aftermath from Ullapool where the annual treasure of the Book Festival this year co-incided with the poll. Distance doesn't necessarily lend objectivity to the view, but it does offer a level of detachment. Watching and listening to  a re-run of some of the election night coverage  you might be forgiven for supposing that some strange alien force had conquered this land and taken its women away.  Rarely can so many men in suits have foregathered in the same place since the last AGM in the financial services sector. Perhaps some of my female colleagues must try harder to grow beards or go bald. Or both. 

The stubborn gender gap which still persists in our new parliament is hugely disappointing, but it won't budge until parties are really serious about the kind of positive discrimination which experience has proved to work. Twinned constituences and all female short lists are often derided as anti democratic - but if we're searching for a democratic deficit, look no further than parliaments throughout the UK which consistently fail to reflect the world around them or embrace its  diversity.  The 300 group set up decades ago to address this problem at Westminster has barely made an impact, whilst the Scottish parliament has actually been going backwards since it first sat in 1999.

There are of course reasons to be cheerful.  Many of the women who are going to Holyrood for the first time will bring energy, enthusiasm and intelligence to the equation.  And many of them became fully committed to the concept of parliamentary representation thanks to the passion engendered by the 2014 referendum. I had a lovely conversation in Ullapool with  shiny new MSP Maree Todd, who had rushed back from the SNP group photo shoot at the Kelpies to make sure she caught a Book Festival event. (And who had fulfilled her annual commitent to making tablet to sell for festival funds, despite a hectic round of canvassing!)  

Maree reminded me that two years ago she was sitting in the Ceilidh Place with Iain McWhirter, Willie McIlvanney and myself as we discussed the Independence Referendum.  I think we may have rashly advised her to stop cheering from the sidelines and get stuck in! Anyway she's a bright young mum who will make an entirely positive contribution.

Casting an eye over social media since the final tally has been rather more dispiriting.  Generosity of spirit is in rather short supply.  A number of men of other political persuasions have taken the opportunity to ennumerate Kezia Dugdale's supposed  shortcomings, whilst a number of men in her own  backyard- who noisily proclaimed their own importance in the run up to the poll - have apparently all  been struck suddenly dumb.  I've only met the Labour leader once - at yet another Book Festival! - but she comes across in the media as a fundamentally decent human being who was handed the most poisoned of chalices following the brief, brutal reign of James Murphy. So if  the sisterhood means anything, it means not kicking opponents when they're down.

It is, after all, no more than enlightened self interest.  As a commited feminist, Yes voter, and opponent of Trident renewal I still recognise that the key to victory in Indyref2 lies in persuading enough cross party support that the future of Scotland should lie in its own hands, and that future will encompass the aspirations and ambitions of fellow Scots regardless of where they choose to plight their  on the political spectrum.  I know, and I suspect Ms Dugdale does too, that whole swathes of erstwhile Labour voters are already persuaded of the case for `Independence. So those in her party who think there is a future in erecting pro union barricades on the left,  in a mirror image of those on the Tory right, must be suffering from some peristent form of political myopia.

Finally, for what it's worth, I am also happy to see a fresh sprouting of Greenery in Holyrood.  Folk like Andy Wightman bring huge experience and  intellectual rigour to the table. He too will be an adorment to the new Holryood chamber.  And, not at all incidentally, re-ignite a necessary debate on more comprehensive land reform.