Welcoming Holyrood's new Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh


Congratulations, then, to Ken Macintosh who has been elected as Holyrood's new Presiding Officer. He has a tough job ahead, of which more anon, but he made a notably fine start.

First, there was no hubris or bombast in his tone. Indeed, in acknowledging victory, he deployed some deft drollery, at his own expense.

He apologised in advance if he failed to recognise every one of the new MSPs - all 51 of them, albeit with four retreads. In his zeal to acknowledge and welcome newly elected colleagues, he said that over the last couple of days he had warmly congratulated… two catering staff, one BBC journalist and a Special Branch officer.

The Presiding Officer then went on to set the theme for his term in charge. He would seek "to work together across the party divide for the common good."

This objective, decidedly well expressed, matched exactly his statements in the run-up to the contest. He offered consensus. He offered conciliation.

Perhaps it was this offer which attracted the degree of SNP support which, by arithmetical definition, the winner required.

Image copyright Philip Sim
Image caption Mr Macintosh was congratulated by the party leaders on his way to the presiding officer's chair

However, the new PO will also require steel. To convene a Parliament where there are shifting power bases and no clear majority. To convene a Parliament which has much more power, including over tax.

Equally, the role is wider, as each incumbent testifies. It involves welcoming guests from around the globe to Holyrood. It involves acting as an envoy, representing Scotland to the world.

Today's proceedings were conducted with dignity and humour. Tricia Marwick caught the mood perfectly, handling business properly - but without bogus solemnity.

But, of course, today was a family day. Spouses, offspring, sundry relatives and friends on hand to witness the first formal day of the new Parliament.

The mood was friendly and consensual. That will not - entirely - last. Ken Macintosh now has - to quote Tricia Marwick - "the best job in Scotland". He will find soon enough that it can be challenging too.

PS: On another job vacancy filled. A warm welcome from me to Ray McKinnon as the boss at the once and future champions. I remember him as an outstanding United player. Best of luck to him as the manager.

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