Congratulations and commiserations

Scottish cabinet Image copyright PA

Congratulations to the new ministerial team: the new deputy first minister, those promoted to cabinet, those given a new portfolio, those staying where they are, those joining the government for the very first time.

Perhaps a special word might be reserved for Maureen Watt who returns to public office after tholing a deliberative spell on the back benches.

Commiserations to the departed. Kenny MacAskill and Mike Russell, we are told, offered to stand down. Perhaps, however, it might also be said they took the hint - or sensed the general direction of travel.

Do the maths. The cabinet is gender balanced - five women, five men. Nicola Sturgeon said she was proud of that fact, while stressing that the appointments were on merit.

Continuing spotlight

Among the non-cabinet ministers, men outnumber women by eight to five. In total, there are now 23 ministers when previously, under Alex Salmond's final structure, there were 21.

Returning to politics, the challenge for this enlarged Team Sturgeon will be to deliver, palpably, for the people of Scotland.

To be clear, she focused upon immediate, day-to-day concerns in her opening remarks: the economy, public spending, wealth distribution.

But, equally, she made clear that there will be a continuing spotlight upon the constitution. How could it be otherwise with the Smith Commission on more powers for Holyrood due to report by the end of the month?

John Swinney is one of the SNP nominees to Smith. He is also now the deputy first minister. He has also been given a particular role for pursuing constitutional issues within government.

In essence, he has inherited the role filled by Ms Sturgeon herself when she deputised for Alex Salmond.