This week was one of ceremony, appointments and resignations
First off, all 129 MSPs were sworn in this week ahead of the first session of the fourth Scottish Parliament. Once sworn in the MSPs settled down to elect a new Presiding Officer. With three nominations – Christine Grahame, Tricia Marwick and Hugh Henry – the SNP dominated parliament elected the first ever female PO in Tricia Marwick. Her election caused opposition parties to raise concerns over whether Marwick can be even-handed and ensure proper scrutiny in the fourth session. In an emotional acceptance speech, the experienced MSP for Mid-Fife & Glenrothes, sought to quash these fears and proclaimed the parliament has work to do. Her deputies were later announced as Tory stalwart John Scott and Labour’s Elaine Smith.
As the latest poll on independence suggests that English voters support Scottish independence more than their Scottish counterparts, Nick Clegg and David Cameron vowed to present an “uplifting and optimistic” case for the Union. Nick Clegg, also ruled out the possibility of a UK wide referendum on Scottish Independence after a number of English MPs demanded a say due to the potential consequences for the rest of the UK.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, met with Alex Salmond last night where the latter demanded further powers be devolved or risk going against the will of the Scottish people. The First Minister wants the Scotland Bill, currently passing through Westminster, to be amended to grant Holyrood borrowing powers, control over corporation tax and the Crown Estate. In talks that were described as “constructive” it seems Westminster are more keen on the idea of extending the parliaments borrowing powers rather than devolving tax. Another amendment, proposed by the former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth this week, which is unlikely to see the light of day is that the Scotland Bill should include an early referendum on Independence to settle the question once and for all. The idea being an early referendum is likely to be defeated and also prevents the SNP from preparing favourable ground.
Alex Salmond achieved a full house over the weekend when Annabel Goldie announced that she will step down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives come the autumn. Her announcement follows on from Iain Gray’s announcement that he will be stepping down after an internal party review and the immediate resignation of Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott.
Finally, Willie Rennie, new regional MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife has thrown his name into the hat to replace Tavish Scott as Scottish Lib Dem leader promising to stand up against the “bulldozer SNP Government for Liberal Values”.