Time to Get Hold of Levers of Power; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

THE second year of the Scottish Parliament starts tomorrow, and the Executive must be hoping it will be a lot more successful than the first.

Everywhere the Executive turned there seemed to be trouble. Work your way around the cabinet table and there was hardly a minister not affected.

It begs the question: why should a team of politicians who in the past have shown themselves to be capable, even innovative, look so accident prone when they join the Scottish Executive?

When measuring the performance of our new government, it might be worth bearing in mind what went on before devolution.

Then, Scotland was less governed by politicians as managed by civil servants.

In the years of Tory rule, there was a distinct shift from government of Scotland to management of Scotland.

After the Poll Tax crisis ended up costing Margaret Thatcher her job, the Tories seemed to decide that Scotland wasn't worth the bother.

New initiatives only got them into trouble, so it was better just to keep the Scots quiet than try anything new.

Thus, the water industry might have been privatised in England, but up here it remains in public hands.

Just about the most controversial things which the last Tory Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth did were to bring back the Stone of Destiny, and wear full highland dress at the premiere of Braveheart.

But the lack of a strong hand on the tiller of Government over the past 10 years may have caused problems when Donald Dewar tried to navigate with a bit more direction as First Minister. …