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SNP go from strength to strength

2 July 2007

Gavin Yates (Edinburgh, GYmedia): The parade to launch the third session of the Scottish parliament on Saturday was rather overshadowed by the fallout over Alex Salmond’s speech and the terrorist incident at Glasgow Airport later that afternoon.

The speech at Holyrood from the First Minster is meant to be non-partisan and on behalf of the entire chamber but Salmond used the occasion to say: "I believe in the restoration of an independent Scotland. Others in this chamber take a different view." Nothing controversial there you might think but it certainly exercised many Labour MSPs. Other Unionists were more welcoming of the FMs message though, with one senior Tory saying that Labour MSPs needed to "get a life".

Since Saturday afternoon, news has been dominated by events at Glasgow Airport. The new Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, made the rather odd statement that the suspects involved in the incident were not "born or bred" here but had lived in Scotland for a "period of time". What that might do to ameliorate strident feelings in Scotland or promote positive community relations one can only wonder.

Despite Mr MacAskill’s musings the SNP go from strength to strength as Scots witness a post-election honeymoon period. However, it might be more to do with Labour’s inability to land a blow rather than the particular merits of the new administration. At the final FMQs before recess, former FM Jack McConnell tried to attack the new incumbent with a jibe about Salmond “being no Donald Dewar.” A weak attempt at humour and one that saw McConnell serve up a simple opportunity for Salmond to retort: "The problem for Jack McConnell is that he's no Henry McLeish." Ouch!

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