The new team

  • Brian Taylor
  • 16 May 07, 12:58 PM

On with government. Alex Salmond, Scotland's new first minister, is in St Andrews House right now, finalising the plans for his team.

He was greeted at the door of executive HQ by Sir John Elvidge, the permanent secretary - who is a decidedly shrewd counsellor.

Mr Salmond will announce a Cabinet of six - plus 10 ministers. They will face a vote of confirmation in parliament tomorrow.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:44 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • August West wrote:

Nice to see the BBC adapting to the reality of the situation, and using words like "Cabinet" and "Government", and not the mealy-mouthed "Scottish Ministers", and "Executive" contained in the Scotland Act.

  • 2.
  • At 04:58 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

Please BBC remember that the appointment of Alex Salmond is not a mandate for the break up of the Union. Please emphasise to your viewers that the SNP only got 30% of the votes - 70% of Scottish voters do not want independence.
A Scot

  • 3.
  • At 05:09 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • derek barker wrote:

You get the feeling Alex S. and his ten men will head for tain and drown their sorrow,i guess the headlines tomorrow will not be Alex the great but more like "ALEX THE COMPROMISED"

  • 4.
  • At 05:13 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • GrumpyOldVIking wrote:

Matthew's comment about 'the break up of the Union' is a real red herring, perhaps a new Labour one, but still a red herring - and it didn't exactly do them much good at the last election.

It's time to move on and recognise we have a parliamentary system which is always going to give the largest party a minority. Consenus and alliance for the good governance of all is the new Scotland.

BT's blog said Parliament put a good face on today. I hope it continues for most of the next four years and our MSPs take cognisance of the real situation.

  • 5.
  • At 05:31 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Oscar MacApfel wrote:

Please Brian, ask A Scot to remove the soor plooms from his gub?

  • 6.
  • At 05:34 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • A Scot in NI wrote:

A proud day for me, as I have voted SNP since I was 18.

I am all for independance (if that is what the whole of Scotland wants) and for those not convinced then take a look how prosperous the Republic of Ireland has become. It just shows what the right direction, policies and attitudes can achive.

I predict a rosey 4 years under the SNP, with the good of Scotland put first and not as an after thought from the Labour Party.

  • 7.
  • At 05:39 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

The mandate Alex Salmond and his party sought was that the SNP should govern Scotland for the next four years with a referendum in the year 2010 on independence; the Scottish people have spoken positively on one of the policy issues, the people will decide after 4 years or sooner whether they feel that was a wise move.

Those who voted Conservative, Liberal, Labour and SNP voted against all the other parties proposals; the question of independence was implicit not explicit, therefore to claim that 70% of voters rejected independence would seem more spin than actuality.

If Jack McConnell and others are comforted by such unsubstantiated statements, so be it; nothing will change the reality of the past fortnight.

  • 8.
  • At 05:39 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Reply to #2 (Matthew)
There is NO way that you can say that!!
Many who voted for Labour, Tory & LibDem WANT Independence.
Incidentally 33% voted SNP, some of whom did not want Independence. The recent election was about the governance at Holyrood.
The Union is well past its sell by date!

  • 9.
  • At 06:02 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Alan North wrote:


Or alternatively 30% of Scottish voters voted for the SNP or Greens. To suggest that voters' independence opinions fall exactly along party lines just isn't true. Personally, I have a lot of pro-independence friends who voted Lib Dem and would imagine that the same would be true for a number of Labour voters as yet unconvinced of the SNP's ability to govern.

With this in mind it's likely that there's at least a 40% preference for independence which is only going to grow over the course of the next parliament. It's just a shame that the pro-union parties are unwilling to allow this to be tested in a referendum.

  • 10.
  • At 06:03 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Gianna wrote:

Matthew: No one has suggested there is a mandate to break up the union. Only the Scottish people can give that mandate in an independence referendum.
Given a minority government, the bill enabling a referendum is unlikely to pass so there could be no referendum, and no mandate.
There is a mandate to govern Scotland, so try to concentrate on the many policies which the new government can deliver, rather than those that it almost certainly cannot.
An SNP member.

  • 11.
  • At 06:31 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Cameron wrote:

A really fantastic, exciting day for Scotland.

I think Alex Salmond is the best politician in the country - simply because he leads the only party who are concerned centrally *with* the country.

This tired old chestnut regarding 70% of Scots not voting for Independence is getting really, really old.

It is not - nor was it - a measure of that question.

1 - The SNP campaign wasn't based on Ind. It was based on giving people the choice - i.e. the very heart of democratic politics!

2 - The 'unionist' parties have their own politic rationale and beliefs. They have their own politics.

3 - If unionist members of the public continue to insist that people did not vote for Independence (wrong assumption) then can we conclude that people were *NOT* also voting for unionism?

Quite simply - this question has not been asked in *any* formal manner. The SNP *does* want to ask that question.

If unionist parties are so confident that 70% of people *do not* want Independence, then why not go *with* the referendum?

Point in example - the Lib-Dems.

Surely responsible for the most un-liberal political behaviour on record?? - and all this on top of an SNP promise to put in a third 'more powers' question for their efforts!

The SNP have behaved in a truly democratic fashion from day one - hats off to them - and they are the only party willing to put trust in the people, whatever the outcome.

In contrast, the Lab-Lib parties seem to be banding about this 'unionist vote at 70%' tripe - whilst not engaging the public will nor the question itself.

No political party has a mandate to be fearful of the people's will.

What does that mean?

Ask Gordon Brown and Menzies Campbell.

It means that a Lib-SNP coalition was never on the cards, because Lab-Lib unionist politicians in Westminster and Holyrood were terrified at the prospect of a successful term by such a coaltion...

...and despite this minority SNP government, astonishingly, they remain terrified...

Give it your best shot Alex - and well done.

  • 12.
  • At 06:52 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Ian MacIntyre wrote:

How on earth can Alex Salmond become First Minister when 140000 votes were not counted? The election should be re-run.

  • 13.
  • At 07:42 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Another Scot wrote:

At least 50% of Scots would vote for independence tomorrow according to all recent pills - which is the obviously more honest and transparent way to pose the question to voters through opinion polls. Its innevitable and its coming...

  • 14.
  • At 08:33 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Fraser Wallace wrote:

Remember that only 25% of Scots or less voted FOR the union as it is...the rest all want more power North!

  • 15.
  • At 09:05 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Seonaid wrote:

One worrying aspect of the different styles of ballot papers used during the Scottish election is the very fact that different styles could be used at all. One thinks of the sorts of electoral devices used in the American Deep South with the sole purpose of disenfranchisement. While the reasons for differing papers might seem understandable, it seems that the need to accommodate electronic counting assumed greater importance than any need to hold a demonstrably fair election.

We know already that the combined Parliament voting paper was more driven by electronic needs than anything else.

Surely the calls for a wholly independent judicial inquiry cannot be ignored?

  • 16.
  • At 09:15 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • David wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with August West, at least we are hearing proper parliamentary language beinf used to describe our government - keep it up!

Matthew, better allow the party to govern which receive the majority of votes than the other parties which received less, now that would be undemocratic. And another thing, do you still really believe the Daily Retard when they said the election would double as referendum? Better the people have their say in a referendum, what are you afraid of? People saying yes? Would you like to overrule that effect of democracy as well??

  • 17.
  • At 09:24 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Åge Kruger wrote:

The Labour party at the last general election got only 35% of the vote, and yet they have a mandate to introduce anything in (and not in) their manifesto.

Matthew, the SNP's policy is not the "break up of the union". It's a referendum on independence; it's the right to choose the form of government best suited to your needs. The SNP have even talked of a three-option referendum, with your option, my option, and LibDem/Tory option.

Most of this talk of referenda is now moot in any case. And I for one would hope that the BBC remain impartial and balanced as their charter demands.

  • 18.
  • At 11:30 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • SArnott wrote:

Reply to Matthew:

There wasn't any mention of the break up of the Union in the article you are commenting on. In fact there has been very little mention of it since the election because, as everyone knows, with a minority government a bill for a referendum on independence will never be approved. The point is that SNP got a greater % of the vote than any other party and deserve the opportunity. The people of Scotland voted for a change of government first of all and we will take it from there.

  • 19.
  • At 12:28 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Harry Shanks wrote:

Matthew, we don't know which of the Unionist Parties you support so let's just say this:

1) Both Labour and the Tories would happily govern and claim a mandate with 30% of the vote whilst the Liberal Democrats would suffer a collective seizure if they received anywhere near 20%

2) McConnell was so brass-necked he was quite prepared to claim a mandate on the basis of having LOST! So we can take no lectures on democracy from Labour.

2) The SNP actually got an average of 32% from the constituency and regional ballots, but don't let the correct figures get in the way of your argument.

3) You cannot reasonably deduce that 70% are against Independence. We know from polls that there is significant support for Independence from within the Labour and Lib Dem voters who for their own reasons would not vote for the SNP.

4) The only way to find out the true level of support for Independence is to have a referendum. We know this will not happen because the Unionists will of course band together to defeat the proposal. In 2011 or whenever the next Scottish Election is held, they will have to defend this denial of the people's right to choose.

Meantime, we will have a First Minister who will prove to be a credit to Scotland. This will be a welcome change. Wait and see.

  • 20.
  • At 12:36 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Paul Marshall wrote:

#2 I think Brian and his colleagues are well aware of that. To get an independence referendum bill through all the parliamentary stages is nigh on impossible!

Even if the party whips weren't involved and a free vote was allowed, I doubt there would be a majority in favour.

Trying times for the future. Looking forwards to it!

  • 21.
  • At 01:22 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Kenny wrote:

Realistically, Salmond's use of the phrase "secretaries" in his cabinet (Cabinet, by the way, is a phrase, i would point out to poster number 1, that has been used since Dewar's first one) is as much to do with trying to make his minority government seem strong, by using big tough words, as it is to do with calling the Scottish Ministers (their legal and proper name) anything else.

Call a spade a leotard, for all I care, there are still only 47 SNP MSPs.

  • 22.
  • At 02:59 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Phil fae Sydney wrote:

I think it was Alex Salmond who used the words cabinet & government. He is entitled to use any words he wishes as he is leading the biggest party returned after the scottish elections.

  • 23.
  • At 03:43 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Tom Berney wrote:

>> Please emphasise to your viewers that the SNP only got 30% of the votes - 70% of Scottish voters do not want independence.

That's a silly comment. Nobody knows how many people who voted for any of the parties are for or against independence. And we never will know until we have a referendum on that single subject. If you are really convinced that 70% oppose it why are the Unionist parties, so afraid of having one?
Surely they should be clamouring for it?
A Real Scot

  • 24.
  • At 08:12 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Alan Hotchkiss wrote:

It is correct to say that there will be supporters of independence among the 70% who did not vote for the SNP.

However it is also correct to say that many of the 30% of people who voted SNP do not support independence due to the clever side lining of the independence issue via the 'referendum bill'. This resulted in many being able to vote for a much needed change of executive without voting for independence.

And of course the referendum will never see the light of day...gosh, maybe Alex even realised this.....

  • 25.
  • At 11:03 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • David Andrew wrote:

After the relentless negative campaigning from the press it would take a special kind of voter not to realise that support for the SNP is support for independence. Also there were at least 2 other parties that support independence. Finally it seems a bit weird that any other party should think it has more of a right to govern when it got less votes

  • 26.
  • At 12:53 PM on 17 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Although an Independence supporter, I can't but help feeling that the Union may well benefit from a referendum. This entity has never once been put before a democratic vote of the people. Actually its never been put before any sort of democratic vote.

Were I a Unionist I would be whole heartedly in favour of a vote. It would be a boost to the Union if it won.

Unionist and pro Union parties must stop just telling us the Union has a right to exist just because it does.

A vote would benefit all. It would answer the question and finally remove the one major fault line in Scottish politics and life.

  • 27.
  • At 04:36 PM on 17 May 2007,
  • fiona wrote:

Heres a wee prediction for you...

Alex Salmond will thrive as First Minister, His drive and determination has brought about a monumental change for the better in Scottish politics. I am proud to live in a country who is willing to embrace the challenges and the changes that this modern nation faces...

However, I see labour being the masters of there own downfall, and now with GB at the helm their fate is sealed. In 2 years when we go to the polls in a UK election, the Tories will be back in power...GB will not win over the SE of England...for their own reasons..The Tories will be back in Downing street and the Nats in Scotland........fireworks..??

I completely agree that the Unioinist parties are scared of the answer on a independence referendum. The talk the country down because they dont trust the will of the Scottish people...a true case of "WE KEN WHITS BEST"....The patronising unionist parties should wake up and smell the heather...its on fire and the natives are resltess!!!

It is true to say that the Scottish election was not a vote on Independence. It was however a vote on a referendum as this was the cornerstone of the SNP manifesto. The SNP are the largest party but they do not have a mandate for a referendum as most voted for parties that clearly opposed that policy.

A manadate in parliamentary terms is expressed by commanding a majority that can carry a policy forward.

The BIG FISH and the SNP do not have such a parliamentary mandate and would clearly lose any attempt to put their referendum policy into effect.

So the BIG FISH will need to content himself with governing. And a good thing too.

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