What is special about today?

On Monday 3 September 2007 the old Scottish Executive became the Scottish Government – the first truly Scottish government since the Union was imposed on the nation in 1707. The first democratic Scottish Government in history. Surely this makes today a very special anniversary.

In the elections for the third Scottish Parliament held on Thursday 3 May 2007 the SNP under the leadership of Alex Salmond won 47 seats, making them the largest party – one seat ahead of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). Those were different times.

Initially, the SNP sought to negotiate a pact with the British Liberal Democrats in Scotland. When talks failed, Alex Salmond chose to form a minority administration. On 16 May 2007 Alex Salmond was elected First Minister of Scotland. A notable event in itself given what he went on to achieve.

When Alex Salmond took office his administration was known as the Scottish Executive. In the late 1990s when the devolution settlement was being dictated by the British parties, the British establishment had to be assured that the new Scottish Parliament would never pose a threat to their ‘precious’ Union. Scotland’s subordinate status in the Union had to be ensured and made evident. They did not want the Scottish people to think they had a real government. So it was called ‘Executive’ instead.

On this day in 2007 this situation was rectified when in accordance with one of Alex Salmond’s first acts as First Minister, the name ‘Scottish Executive’ was discarded and the Scottish Government was born.

This marked the start of a new era in Scottish history. The Scottish Parliament was becoming the locus of political life in Scotland. Scotland was developing its own distinctive political culture. A political culture which over the next decade and more would increasingly diverge from a British political culture that was to descend ever deeper into a mire of corruption, incompetence and tragicomic chaos.

Scotland was embarked on a journey which, with Alex Salmond at the helm, would take us to an SNP majority administration in 2011 and the first Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

There have been many special days in Scotland’s long history. Days made memorable by events both glorious and tragic. It is proper that we remember our history. It is fitting that we mark those days – whether it be in celebration or in sorrow. It is surely proper and fitting to commemorate the day our Scottish Government was formally recognised as such. We might also want to thank the individual who, perhaps more than anyone, brought about that day – Alex Salmond.

11 thoughts on “What is special about today?

  1. The amazing thing is why the government was ever described as the “Executive” in the first place. Perhaps because I am not a plastic Jock , I can’t get my head around unionist thinking.

    I remember the gnashing of teeth when Alex renamed it. They claimed he was politicising the parliament! Who would have thought a parliament was political!

    I look forward to the day when our MSP’s are just called MP’s , and every institution in Scotland no longer has to have the word Scottish at the front ,which make it inferior or secondary to the English institutions.

    The FA , The SPCA, The National Theatre , National Opera, The NEC e.t.c.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Good to have a full reminder Peter.
    I remember at the time the MSM played it down.
    Instead of political land marks, which should have been rejoiced from the rooftops.
    From your historical reminder, it shows the significance of positive political processes.
    Grand, many thanks to Alex Salmond.
    A political Giant amongst dwarves.
    Lol, onwards and upwards.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Does the SNP ever anticipate Westminster’s duplicitiousness. It seems they are constantly outmanoeuvred and reactive these days. Is this by design under a failing leadership?


    1. “Failing leadership” FFS! Again, I feel I have to point out that 55% in the polls for the SNP and Indy while Sturgeon remains by far the most popular and trusted leader in the British Isles is not “failing”.


  4. Without wanting to detract from the enormous debt the Indy movement owes Alex Salmond, he didn’t deliver an indyref. David Cameron called his bluff and foisted one on him before he was ready.

    Salmond’s strategy was no different to that being pursued by Sturgeon. In 2007 he said he would build support for independence through demonstrating good government before calling a referendum. In 2011 he said he would only go for a referendum at some unspecified point in the second half of the Parliament, after more powers (again unspecified) were returned to Scotland. Whether it would ever have happened is one of history’s “who knows”. I doubt he would have called it without being confident of winning it from the get-go.

    Why should Sturgeon be vilified for following Salmond’s strategy almost to the letter while he is effectively lauded as the leader she should be emulating …. which she already is?


    1. “Alex Salmond is a brilliant political operator. A master of the art of keeping open as many options as possible and a man who can calculate, on the fly, all the values in a complex trade-off. Setting a precedent by requesting a Section 30 order was dangerous because, on the face of it, this might limit the options available in the future. Remember that, in 2012, Salmond had little reason to suppose that a referendum could be won. He was pretty much bounced into going for it because, in 2011, the Scottish electorate broke the voting system in a way that not even Alex Salmond could have predicted. He had to declare the referendum. And he would do his utmost to win it. But he was also planning for the loss and looking to get as much out of the whole exercise as he could.”


      Liked by 1 person

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