100 days in power
admitted yesterday that he would have to alter his plans for
the first 100 days of a Nationalist government if the SNP was
forced to operate as a minority government.
Two months ago,
Mr Salmond published a document setting out exactly what he
would do in his first 100 days in office.
admitted that everything would have to change if he had to
fight and persuade for every vote.
will remain the same, particularly those that do not need
primary legislation - such as announcing the go-ahead of a new
Forth crossing or negotiating with Westminster for money Mr
Salmond believes is being withheld - but others will change.
"If we have a
minority administration, quite clearly what you try to
implement, not just in the first 100 days, but in the first
year, you have to look at areas which will command widespread
parliamentary support," he said.
"If there is
legislation involved, you have to look at the areas which
command more broad consensus in the parliament."
Mr Salmond did
not say which issues would be postponed and which less
contentious ones would be brought forward, but he did say his
controversial plans to introduce a local income tax were
always designed to be introduced towards the end of the
parliament, not at the beginning.
"You would have
to take from the programme those things which you think have a
good chance of going through."
tried to run a minority government in Scotland before and
no-one has wanted to. Mr Salmond knows it will be incredibly
difficult, not least because his party will not command a
majority on the parliamentary bureau, which decides how
parliamentary time is allocated. If the SNP cannot timetable
its business and legislation when it wants, it will be at the
mercy of the other parties.
Mr Salmond also
cannot have Executive majorities on the parliamentary
committees. This will leave any legislation open to radical
change and even defeat in committee, before it gets to the
floor of the parliament, where, once again, the SNP will not
be able to control enough votes to get legislation through.
It will be
uncharted territory for the SNP and for the other parties in
the parliament. It is likely that Mr Salmond's opponents will
be keen to inflict defeats on him and he will endeavour to
secure as much cross-party support as possible - sometimes
from the Greens and the Liberal Democrats and sometimes even
from the Conservatives.
But Mr Salmond
knows that this experiment in minority government has to work
and the SNP has to be seen to be making achievements for the
good of Scotland. Otherwise, his dreams of building
credibility in government will be finished.
MR SALMOND has
promised to publish a white paper on an independence
referendum within his first 100 days in office. There is no
reason why this cannot be done. In fact, civil servants are
probably preparing it already.
wants to cancel the Edinburgh Airport rail link. He can do
this without legislation simply by not providing the money for
it. He also intends to give the go-ahead for a new Forth
crossing, probably a tunnel, as soon as possible. This may
need parliamentary approval but that should not be a problem.
This is likely to be the first issue where the SNP meets major
opposition from the Greens.
promised to ask Westminster for Scotland's share of oil and
gas revenues within his first 100 days. There is nothing to
stop him doing that, but his chances of success are slim and
he might find his time is better spent in the daily battle to
get votes in Holyrood than arguing with ministers in London.
He also wants to start formal discussions with the Norwegian
government for a North Sea Super Grid. He could do it without
legislation, but it would cause problems with London.
also promised to go to Westminster and demand the return of
£40 million in attendance allowances which, he claims, should
be coming to Scotland. This is money that was coming north
before the Executive introduced free care for the elderly.
claims it should still come to Scotland. He can argue his
case, but his chances of success are slim given that the
Labour-led Executive already tried asking for the money back,
wants to slim down the Scottish Executive as his first act in
government and there does not seem to be any reason why he
should not be able to do this.
nine departments will be slimmed down to six: the Office of
the First Minister, Finance and Sustainable Growth, Health and
Wellbeing, Education and Skills, Justice and Rural Affairs.
This does not
require legislation so should not prove a problem.
wants to introduce a Criminal Justice Bill for tougher
community sentencing, which should get the backing of the
Liberal Democrats, and he wants a full judicial inquiry into
the Shirley McKie case, which he could do without
parliamentary support. The Criminal Justice Bill is the sort
of legislation the Conservatives might support. Annabel Goldie
made it clear she would back the government on an
"issue-by-issue" basis and policies such as sentencing will
Mr Salmond has
promised to publish plans for a full St Andrew's Day holiday
and to convene meetings with stakeholders to see if Scotland
can put out its own Olympic team. Neither of these will need
legislation so he should be able to start the process on both.
But both are likely to be hugely contentious and Mr Salmond
runs the risk of the opposition parties using their time in
the parliament to debate, and vote, on these issues. Defeat
would not be binding but it would be embarrassing.
promised to introduce a local healthcare bill, including
direct elections for health boards, to phase out public
private partnerships and abolish prescription charges. Mr
Salmond will be able to publish these plans but he will have
some trouble getting them through.
depends on the Liberal Democrats, who might support the
community health proposals but who will oppose the scrapping
of the PPP scheme. This part might be delayed until later in
administration's first real job will be to produce a budget,
setting out where the money is going to come from for its
spending plans, how much will come from efficiency savings and
The stakes on
the budget are high. If it is voted down, the Executive will
have no money - a move which would be tantamount to a
no-confidence motion. But the other parties might agree to
allow the SNP budget to go through, giving it the time to
start to govern.
THE SNP has
pledged to introduce a bill abolishing tuition fees. This
should get the support of the Liberal Democrats, which would
give it the backing it needs to go through parliament.
The SNP also
wants to increase free nursery provision by 50 per cent and
reduce class sizes to 18 in P1 to P3. Neither of these
measures would be controversial and might even generate
cross-parliamentary support, if they were seen to be improving
On a personal
note I would say that I was delighted that the SNP has won the
election as I believe Scotland needs a fresh look at
everything. That's not to say that I might agree with
everything but at least this is a chance to look afresh at how
Scotland governs itself.