Selection of the Parliament’s Nominee for First Minister – Scottish Parliament: 17th May 2016

Selection of the Parliament’s Nominee for First Minister – Scottish Parliament: 17th May 2016


The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh):
Good afternoon. Before we move to the first item of business, I would like to inform members
that I have decided to change the guidance on conduct in the chamber, to allow members
to make greater use of electronic devices. With that in mind, I have arranged for wi-fi
to be enabled in the chamber for members’ use. [Applause.] That is noted—as are those
not applauding. My decision is in line with the Parliament’s
commitment to invest in online access to allow members to work digitally. It is part of my
ambition to promote a modern, accessible Parliament. The decision is effective as of now. If members wish to use devices in the chamber
for social media in a parliamentary context, I have no difficulty with that, but I emphasise
the need for courtesy and respect for other members and for the parliamentary business
in hand. That translates as: “You can tweet but you certainly cannot play Candy Crush”. I will write to you all this week to give
further guidance on the implications of the change. In the meantime, I remind members
that at all times you should maintain courtesy and respect for one another and you should
not behave in a way that interferes with the proper conduct of business in the chamber. The next item of business is the selection
of the Parliament’s nominee as First Minister. A note explaining the procedures that are
to be followed this afternoon has been placed on each member’s desk. I have received two
valid nominations for selection of the Parliament’s nominee as First Minister; they are, in alphabetical
order, Willie Rennie and Nicola Sturgeon. I will ask each nominee to speak in support
of their candidacy, for up to five minutes. After the nominees have spoken, members will
be asked to cast their vote for their preferred candidate. A separate vote will be called
for each candidate, and members can vote only once. Once all voting has been completed,
any member who has not voted will be invited to cast a vote to abstain. There will be a
short break of a few minutes while the result is verified. I will then announce the results
of voting. A candidate will be elected if a simple majority
is obtained. Therefore, no account will be taken of any votes to abstain in establishing
whether a simple majority has been achieved. Members should ensure that their cards are
inserted correctly in their consoles. I call Willie Rennie. Willie Rennie (North East Fife) (LD):
Thank you, Presiding Officer. “Oh, dad. You’re not, are you?” Those
were the encouraging words from my unimpressed 12-year-old son when he heard on the radio
this morning that I was standing for First Minister. I told Stephen that I was inspired
by a woman nationalist leader who stood up against the odds—but unlike Leanne Wood
I will not be relying on UK Independence Party votes today. This is the first time that I have stood for
First Minister in this Parliament. I did not stand in 2011 or 2014 because the Scottish
National Party had a majority then. No longer—it has lost that majority. In part, I am standing
today to make that point. We are all minorities here. No manifesto commanded the support of
a majority, so we all need partners to win votes. We are all equal in that respect. Whoever becomes First Minister today cannot
compel this chamber to agree to their demands. Whoever wins the vote will need to work hard
to persuade others to back any proposal. I want this Parliament to make Scotland the
best again, so that everyone can have the opportunity to succeed no matter what their
background; where people can live as they wish as long as it does not harm others; and
where we pass on the planet in a better state than we found it. The next five years must deliver a step change
in mental health services so that they are treated on a par with those for physical illness.
I propose that extra resources be directed to primary care so that mental health professionals
can work alongside general practitioners; for work in accident and emergency and in
partnership with the police; and for extra capacity in child and adolescent services. The next five years must deliver policies
that will enable us to exceed our climate change targets. I propose a warm homes act,
low-carbon transport and no opencast coal so that we can deliver real change. Cutting
air passenger duty by 50 per cent will not help. That will cut funds for public services
and cause damage to the environment, so I am not proposing that cut. Fracking will not
help, either. That is where the SNP must remember that its rhetoric about the Tories may come
back to haunt it. The SNP may have to rely on the Conservatives for a majority from time
to time. We should use the next five years to make
Scottish education the best in the world again. I propose a £500 million transformational
investment so that we can deliver extra resources for nurseries, schools and colleges to get
our education back up the international rankings. We have already persuaded the SNP of the merits
of a pupil premium to get extra support to children who need it, no matter where they
live in the country. Now we need a change of heart from the SNP on the use of tax powers
so that we can make that big investment—or will the SNP look to the Conservatives to
help it to block that investment? The next five years should be used to guarantee
our civil liberties. There should be no return to armed police on routine duties or industrial-scale
stop and search, and we need to kill off the much-delayed but still possible intrusive
super-ID database. I propose bringing back local democratic oversight of the police. I am positive about the Liberal Democrat agenda
for the Parliament; I am positive about our ability to bring people together; and I am
even more positive about our chances of winning today. There are signs of change—important
signs that the momentum is with me. I do not want to upset Joe FitzPatrick, but some of
his members are indicating that they may cast a vote for me. Mark McDonald smiled at me
in the garden lobby just last week; Jamie Hepburn shook my hand; and everyone knows
about the special understanding that I have with Bob Doris. [Laughter.] With those positive signs, I will leave it
to members to choose the best programme and the best person to lead the Scottish Government
for the next five years. The Presiding Officer:
I call Nicola Sturgeon. Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Southside) (SNP):
Thank you very much, Presiding Officer. I begin by thanking Willie Rennie for his
candidacy. I was delighted to hear that I start today with the full support of Willie
Rennie’s son. As Willie Rennie provided some of what I can only describe as the most
colourful imagery of the election campaign, it is only right that we heard from him today. Willie Rennie and I chatted earlier about
what we might do if the vote ended up in a tie. We decided that we would settle matters
with a race down a giant inflatable slide—that is an incentive to ensure that it does not
happen. Seriously, if I am elected today as the Parliament’s
nominee for First Minister, I will look forward very much to working with Willie Rennie and,
indeed, colleagues across the chamber as, collectively over the next five years, we
confront the challenges and harness the massive opportunities that our country has. Today, I am asking MSPs across the chamber
to support my nomination for First Minister. Since Parliament first elected me to that
position back in the autumn of 2014, I have worked hard to repay that support. Eighteen
months on, I am a little bit older and a lot wiser. The experience of being First Minister
has made me more acutely aware of the challenges that our nation faces, but even more aware
of our vast potential. The challenge for me and for all of us is to harness that potential
for the good of our country and those of us who are lucky enough to live here. During the election campaign, I said that
closing the attainment gap in education would be the defining mission of a Scottish Government
that is led by me. I look forward to working across the chamber to ensure that that is
the mission of not just Government, but Parliament as a whole. The economy and jobs will also be at the top
of my list of priorities—that is reflected in my intention to create a new dedicated
cabinet secretary post with responsibility for the economy. With new powers coming to this Parliament,
the responsibility placed on us and, in particular, on the First Minister is greater than ever
before, but that is a responsibility that I am ready and eager to seize with both hands. During the election campaign I described the
SNP manifesto as my application for the job of First Minister, and the election allowed
the people of Scotland to deliver their verdict. The SNP increased its constituency vote share,
we won a record number of constituency seats, and we became the first party in the devolution
era to secure more than 1 million constituency votes, so there is no doubt that the SNP has
a mandate to govern and that I have a mandate to continue as the First Minister of our country.
I hope that Parliament will recognise that clear mandate today. I have also made clear my intention to lead
an inclusive Government. Being an inclusive, open and outward-looking Government is, of
course, about much more than what happens here in this parliamentary chamber, but there
is no doubt that it starts here in this chamber. I have already made suggestions to strengthen
Parliament’s scrutiny of the First Minister. I would like to see more time allocated to
the weekly session of First Minister’s question time to ensure that back benchers are given
more opportunity to ask questions. As First Minister, I would welcome the opportunity—“welcome”
is perhaps not the right word; I would embrace the opportunity—to appear more often before
the Parliament’s committee conveners. The proposals might in themselves be relatively
minor, but I hope that they serve as an indication of the tone that I want to set in the Scottish
Parliament’s fifth session. I firmly and passionately believe that there
should be no limit to our ambitions for our national Parliament or our nation. If I am
successful today, the First Minister’s door will always be open to people across and outside
the chamber with constructive ideas to make Scotland the prosperous, fair country that
we all know that it can be. I will work every day to serve this country to the very best
of my ability. The Presiding Officer:
Thank you. We now move to voting. I remind members that they must vote once
only and must use their yes button. If any member records a vote more than once or records
a vote other than a yes vote, their vote will be treated as spoiled. Once the voting for
candidates is completed, members who have not voted for a candidate will then be given
the opportunity to vote to abstain by pressing their yes button. I will announce the result
once all the votes have been cast and verified. The first vote is for Willie Rennie. Members
who wish to cast their vote for Willie Rennie should vote yes now. The Presiding Officer:
There will be a short pause while we print the vote. Thank you. The next vote is for Nicola Sturgeon.
Members who wish to cast their vote for Nicola Sturgeon should vote yes now. The Presiding Officer:
That concludes the votes for candidates. There will be another short pause while we print
the vote. Thank you. The next vote is for any members
who have not yet voted and who wish to record an abstention. Members who wish to abstain
should press their yes button now—not the abstain button. The Presiding Officer:
That concludes this round of voting. There will now be a break, not just to print the
votes but to verify them, so it will be a few minutes longer. In the vote to select the Parliament’s nominee
for First Minister, the total number of votes cast was 127. The number of votes cast for
each candidate was: Willie Rennie 5, Nicola Sturgeon 63, Abstentions 59. There were no
spoiled votes. As the result is valid, and as Nicola Sturgeon
has received more votes than the total number of votes for the other candidate, I declare
that Nicola Sturgeon is selected as the Parliament’s nominee for appointment as First Minister.
As required by the Scotland Act 1998, I shall now recommend to Her Majesty that she appoint
Nicola Sturgeon as the First Minister. [Applause.] I offer my congratulations to you, Ms Sturgeon,
as the new First Minister. Ruth Davidson (Edinburgh Central) (Con):
I offer my congratulations, and those of my party, to the First Minister on her election
today. As I said on the day after the election result, it is a significant achievement to
win three elections in a row. If nothing else, it presents a test of stamina for the Government
and for the First Minister as she gets back to work. I wish her, her family and her wider
support network well in meeting that challenge. I also salute Willie Rennie for offering himself
up as this afternoon’s willing human sacrifice. Like my own attempt to persuade Parliament
to hand me the job of First Minister 18 months ago, Willie’s bid for the summit has fallen
just short. The challenge itself helps to demonstrate a serious and key point: it is
this Parliament that approves who is the First Minister of Scotland and it is this Parliament
to which the First Minister is accountable. Perhaps that is something that we need to
be reminded of, given the last five years of majority rule—a period that saw a Government
repeatedly exercising its executive power to the detriment of the authority of this
institution. Now, with a new minority Government, I hope that we can look forward to five years
when the Parliament is once again able to demonstrate its authority, its oversight and
its challenge. There has been a lot of talk about mandates
in the days following the election and, again, from the First Minister today. The truth is
that it is this Parliament that holds the real, unchallenged mandate: to decide on our
First Minister, on our cabinet secretaries and the ministerial team, and—once that
is done—to scrutinise their decisions, their actions and the legislative programme that
they bring forth. To question and to challenge, to argue and
offer alternatives, and to promote better governance in this place, not for its own
sake but for the people of Scotland—that is the task that I and my team dedicate ourselves
to today. Unlike Mr Rennie, I chose not to stand against
the First Minister—that was by design. As some of you may have noticed during the election
campaign, we asked for votes not to form a Government but rather to form the strong Opposition
that the Parliament and this country so desperately require. Now that we have been returned, that
is the job that we are determined to fulfil over the coming five years. We will engage with the people and the institutions
of Scotland to listen to their concerns. In Parliament and in committee, we will provide
the challenge required to ensure better law. We will use the job of opposition to provide
real alternatives for the Scottish Government to consider, and the debate over those alternatives
needs to start immediately. We know, from the election campaign, the scale
of the challenges that we face. We see unemployment on the rise—up 20,000 in the first part
of this year and now above rates in the rest of the United Kingdom. We hear warnings from
business figures saying that our economy is on a knife edge. We see school results going
backwards and cuts to colleges meaning fewer places to train and to retrain for the world
of work. It is now this Parliament that will hold sway,
more than ever before, over how the country moves forward. The new tax powers that are
coming here over the coming months mean that we are about to embark on a new chapter of
devolution. For the Conservatives’ part, we intend to bring not just principle to the
debate but evidence and expertise—that is the least that people expect of us. Where there is consensus or common cause,
we will work with others. Where there is difference, I pledge always to be a positive Opposition,
providing challenge—yes—but alternatives, too. Out of the fire of honest and principled
differences, we will bring debate back into the public discourse, creating a stronger
Parliament, demanding a better Government and building a more positive future for Scotland,
the country that each of us here loves and serves. [Applause.] Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab):
There is more that unites us than divides us across this chamber, and today every party
in this place will wish Nicola Sturgeon well and offer her congratulations as she begins
a fresh term as First Minister. It is the votes of MSPs in this chamber that officially
nominate her again for the office and title of First Minister of Scotland, but it is the
votes of the people of Scotland that have really put her there. Nicola Sturgeon will be acutely aware of the
responsibility on her shoulders. She is the leader of the first Scottish Government to
achieve three terms in office and she is the most powerful First Minister that this country
has ever seen. With the mandate that the people have given her, I hope that she uses it to
be bold. I hope that she has the courage to change course: to use her power to challenge
vested interests, to stand up for the majority and to do everything that she can to make
Scotland a country where a person’s destiny in life is determined not by their postcode
but by their potential. In the election, the Scottish people have
delivered a result that has matched a strong Scottish Government with a strong Scottish
Parliament to keep it in check. The people have changed the balance of power in the Parliament
and they have deprived the Government of a majority. That means that there is an even
greater responsibility on the First Minister to build consensus and to reach out to parties
that represent the wide and varied interests of people across Scotland. Each time she reaches
out, she will be faced with a choice—a fork in the road. She can look to the left, where
she will find allies in progressive parties, who believe in the power of Government to
transform lives, or she can look right to conservative forces, who ask Government to
do less and cut more. I hope and expect the First Minister to use her mandate to be radical
and progressive, and to use all the powers that are available to change the lives of
the people who live in our great country. In navigating minority government, the First
Minister might want to take a leaf out of the book of her predecessor, when he said: “The Parliament will be one in which the
Scottish Government relies on the merits of its legislation, not the might of a parliamentary
majority.”—[Official Report, 16 May 2007; c 24.] For my part, I will take some advice from
one of my predecessors—Donald Dewar. When he was nominated as First Minister, he said: “We are indeed a country with a past. The
past has shaped us, but our task now is to shape the future.”—[Official Report, 13
May 1999; c 19.] Since Donald was First Minister, we have written
new chapters in Scotland’s story. We have seen the parties in power change, our Parliament
has come of age, and we have had a referendum that has changed the face of our nation for
ever, so whatever roads we may choose to go down in the future, this Parliament cannot
be a prisoner of the past. We have to take the best of what we have learned and use it
to take our country forward. Our job, as at the birth of this Parliament, is to shape
the future. Therefore, let us be inspired rather than
bound by our past. For the next five years, this chamber should echo with the same energy
and passion that we saw in 2014; it should be fuelled by the same hope and expectation
that people who voted yes and people who voted no felt when they voted; and it should not
just be the place where we debate the kind of society that we want to build, but the
place where we lay its foundations. That is a responsibility that we all carry. [Applause.] Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green):
I offer my congratulations and those of the Scottish Green Party to Nicola Sturgeon on
her re-election as First Minister, and I express a little bit of relief on your behalf, Presiding
Officer. The first time the Parliament met to choose
a First Minister, the process was interrupted by no fewer than eight points of order from
members who showed various levels of brass neck. Some of them were made by members who
are still with us—Fergus Ewing and Mike Russell—and there were a couple from the
late Phil Gallie. Others were made by former members Dennis Canavan and Ben Wallace and—here
are a couple of obscure names—Tommy Sheridan and Alex Salmond. Someone should look those
people up to find out what they are up to these days. I am very grateful that you have
been spared that level of chaos, Presiding Officer. Just a few days after that exchange, in what
I think was her first speech in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said: “we, as members of the first Scottish Parliament,
must be guided by the principles that guided the consultative steering group. That group
envisaged an open, accessible Parliament in which power would be shared between the Parliament,
the Executive and the Scottish people”.—[Official Report, 19 May 1999; c 113.] I hope that this session, with a second minority
Government, might be a chance to recapture that spirit. Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon was quoted
yesterday as intending to “lead a government that seeks to win votes,
not simply by the force of our numbers, but by the strength of our arguments”. That was very reminiscent of a speech by Alex
Salmond on taking office in 2007—though how quickly the intention was forgotten once
the SNP no longer required the parliamentary numbers. In truth, minority government sometimes worked
well and sometimes less so, but at its best it was an opportunity for creative thinking
and for the broadest range of ideas to come forward without being shot down by parliamentary
arithmetic alone. Green influence in session 3 included some
successes that are still with us, such as the climate challenge fund, which has enabled
hundreds of communities across the country to put their own ideas into practice to reduce
their environmental impact while building a stronger community and addressing related
challenges such as fuel poverty and a dysfunctional corporate food chain. However, despite our
strenuous efforts in that session, there was less success on the energy efficiency agenda,
which continues to this day to experience budget cuts. On a number of issues, the challenges that
we face today clearly require the combined effort and creativity of MSPs working across
party lines. The case for progressive taxation to protect our public services is strong.
This Scottish Government will have the responsibility, but also for the first time much greater power,
to protect Scotland from the impact of austerity economics and the UK Government’s continued
destruction of the welfare state. The First Minister must resolutely ignore the increased
number of cheerleaders for that vandalism, and she must be clear, in seeking the Parliament’s
support for her budgets, that she should look to those who oppose austerity, not to its
advocates. On climate targets, the Government has—even
though, during the election campaign, some SNP candidates appeared to be in outright
denial of the fact—so far missed all four climate targets. Now, with a promise of new,
even higher targets, the Government has a chance to raise its game to match the increased
ambition that was expressed in the Paris agreement. What must absolutely be avoided is a repeat
of the Climate Change (Scotland) 2009 Act, in which targets were agreed without the clear
and radical programme of action that was necessary to meet them. On parliamentary reform, all of us, in attempting
to recapture the spirit of an inclusive Parliament, will have a role to play. I am convinced that,
in this generation—the most networked generation that there has ever been—we can create new
opportunities for public participation in our work that can add to the quality and depth
of our scrutiny. The past few years have shown that, when it matters and when involvement
in the political process is meaningful, the appetite for it is strong. I offer Nicola Sturgeon the good wishes of
the Scottish Green party as she approaches the work ahead. We have always tried to be
constructive where we can be and challenging where we must be. It is an approach that has
achieved results in the past, and we look forward to the opportunities that will arise
in the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament. [Applause.] Willie Rennie:
I congratulate Nicola Sturgeon on her personal and political achievement today. It is significant
that she has secured the position of First Minister for the second time, this time with
her own mandate. Her family, who are up in the gallery, will be proud of her, and so
they should be. I also take the opportunity to pay tribute
to two of my former colleagues who were not re-elected. Jim Hume and Alison McInnes were
great servants of my party and this Parliament. [Applause.] Thank you very much. I am sure that Nicola Sturgeon will mark the
loss of eight of her SNP colleagues who were not re-elected. I pay tribute in particular
to my predecessor in North East Fife, Rod Campbell, who was graceful and generous at
the count and afterwards. I know many people in the constituency who were grateful for
his advice and support. This Parliament presents us with many opportunities.
All members in the chamber have a responsibility to do things better so that we can make Scotland
a better country. Because we are all minorities, we need to hunt for agreement with others.
Of course, there will be times when we oppose. If we strongly disagree, we will strongly
oppose, but it will be based on principle and belief. We will not hunt for those differences,
and SNP members should avoid a knee-jerk reaction to any opposition to their plans. If SNP members
seek to portray any defeat of the Government as a Conservative alliance, they can surely
expect similar portrayals of any time that the SNP and the Conservatives vote the same
way. It may be the case that to secure a majority on, say, tax or fracking, as well as other
issues, the SNP will need Conservative support. [Interruption.] I am pleased to hear those
members; that is a good indication of the policy that might come. I was pleased that Nicola Sturgeon did not
include independence in her remarks. That was wise, because we should respect the result
of the referendum and focus on the challenges that our country faces and the ambition that
we should have to make our country the best again. I have already set out the changes that we
need in mental health service provision: in primary care, emergency services and child
and adolescent services. We have a lot of work to do, as the share spent on mental health
has fallen in each of the past few years. The Government’s mental health strategy
expired last December and the failure to renew it means that tens of millions of pounds of
funding remain unallocated this year. That has real consequences. A young constituent
had to wait for months for urgent treatment; another self-harming teenager waited for a
year to see a consultant; and, after a debate on the subject, a mother told me that for
weeks she had been on the phone every day, sometimes all day, in order to get help for
her son. When 673,000 working days are lost every year in Scottish businesses as a result
of depression, the First Minister needs to make the issue a priority. Early education is another top priority for
the Liberal Democrats. I will work in partnership with Nicola Sturgeon to deliver an expansion
of early years provision, especially as the SNP Government has struggled to roll out what
has already been promised. Nicola Sturgeon can count on our support when
she brings forward plans to boost mental health services so that they are treated on a par
with those for physical illness. We will support plans to exceed climate change targets. We
will be with her when she guarantees to ditch the intrusive super-ID database, injects local
democratic oversight into the police and agrees to push power down into communities rather
than centralising it at Holyrood. She can count on our support when she brings forward
plans to make a transformational investment in education for nurseries, schools and colleges,
with a penny on income tax. Let us now get on with the job that we were
elected to do. [Applause.] Nicola Sturgeon:
Thank you for your kind words, Presiding Officer. I also take the opportunity to thank all the
other party leaders for their contributions today and for their words of support. I deeply
appreciate all of them. I thank my fellow members of Parliament for
selecting me as Parliament’s nominee to be the next First Minister of Scotland. There
is quite simply no greater privilege than to be elected to serve as the First Minister
of our country. I pledge that, for each and every day that I hold this office, I will
strive to fulfil the duties that are placed on me to the very best of my ability, and
I promise to use all the powers that this office places in my hands to make our country
an even better place to live. It means a great deal to me to be joined here
today by my family. I take the opportunity to thank them, especially my husband, my parents
and my sister, for the unwavering support that they give me. I know that I do not tell
them often enough—I suspect that they would say that I do not tell them at all—but I
simply could not do the job that I do without their support, and I want them to know how
grateful I am for it. I say a special thank you to my niece and
nephews, who are here today. Each of them has what I can only describe as a unique ability
to keep my feet firmly on the ground and remind me of what really matters in life. Presiding Officer, this is a Parliament of
new beginnings. I lead a third-term SNP Government, but I am a First Minister who has been elected
for the first time in my own right. More than a third of MSPs are new to the chamber, which
gives Parliament a renewed sense of energy and a fresher feel than at any time since
1999. We have a new principal party of opposition, perhaps making the choice of the kind of country
that we want to be sharper than it has been before. We are a Parliament that is preparing to assume
important new powers over tax and social security as the country takes the next steps on our
journey of self-government. With new beginnings come new and higher expectations.
It is the duty of each and every one of us to live up to those expectations. Of course, we represent different political
parties for a reason. We each want what is best for Scotland, but we have different ideas—sometimes
very different ideas—about how to achieve that. We should not seek to mask those differences.
At its best, politics will always be a creative battle of ideas. Just as importantly, we should not allow our
differences to obscure the areas of agreement that exist between us. I hope that the current
session of Parliament will see us expend as much effort on finding common ground as we
do on debating the differences. That will not always lead to unanimity; perhaps it will
do so rarely, but we must be prepared to reach out beyond our party boundaries to build alliances
across the chamber and in the country as a whole for the common good. As First Minister,
I recognise my duty to lead by example. On 5 May, the people of Scotland gave me a
clear mandate to govern but also an instruction to do so inclusively. That verdict of the
people will determine the tone and substance of my Government. I will lead a Government
that does not seek to win votes simply by the force of our numbers but does so by the
strength of our arguments, and by the support that we are able to build for our policies
in the country as a whole. When we make mistakes, as all Governments do—we will make strenuous
efforts not to—we will try to have the courage and humility to face up to them and to put
them right. We will not assume a monopoly of wisdom; good ideas exist across the chamber
and I promise that we will always seek to judge ideas on their merit rather than on
their party of origin. That is the open, inclusive and outward-looking approach to government
that I will endeavour to take. If it is matched by Opposition parties determined to be robust
but constructive in how they discharge their duties, it can make a real difference to how
we do business in the chamber and, ultimately, to how well we serve the people of Scotland. Of course, in seeking to make common cause,
we will be guided by principle and by the manifesto on which we were elected. We are
a left-of-centre social democratic Government, so the alliances that we seek to build will
be progressive. We stand for an economy that is founded on inclusive growth, fair work
and fair tax. We stand for strong public services. We stand for universal services, such as free
prescriptions and free education, and for a social security system that has dignity
at its heart. We stand for human rights and trade union rights. We stand for fair and
transparent land ownership. We stand strong in our determination to protect our environment
for the generations that will come after us. Above all, we stand for a society that offers
opportunity for all. As I accept the nomination for First Minister
today, the promise that I am making to the country and, indeed, to myself, is that I
will do everything that I can to ensure that this moment in our history marks the beginning
of a new age of national self-confidence—confidence in our strength, our wealth and our potential
as a country but, more than that, confidence that ours is a country where opportunity can
flourish for everyone who is lucky enough to live here and confidence that, wherever
someone is born and whatever their gender or family background, they will have the opportunity
to make the most of their talent and fulfil their potential. That is why education is
so firmly at the heart of everything that my Government will aspire to do. Transforming
early years education, raising standards in our schools, and ensuring access to the opportunities
that come after school will not just be the hallmarks of my Government and the issues
on which we ask to be judged; they are the foundation of the kind of society that I want
us to build. They will be the building blocks of our new age of self-confidence. I have no desire to be First Minister for
its own sake. I want to use the opportunity that I have as First Minister to change this
country for the better. My passionate and lifelong belief that Scotland should be independent
is well known and enduring. A majority of MSPs are from parties that support independence,
but we know that Scotland will become independent only if and when a majority of the people
are persuaded. I also know that my job as First Minister
now and at all times is to govern for all the people of our country. That is what I
pledge to do. Two weeks ago, I asked for a personal mandate
as First Minister and I was given one. The people of Scotland have put their trust in
me to lead. My task now is to repay that trust, to take tough decisions knowing that I might
not always get them right, and to lead a Government with purpose—a Government that is bold,
ambitious and creative. I know that the next five years will throw
up challenges aplenty. There will be ups and there will be downs. I will work every day
to ensure that there are many more of the former than there are of the latter, and I
will strive to meet whatever comes my way with strength and with courage—and always,
I hope, with a positive outlook. What I know beyond doubt is that I will be
inspired and sustained each day by the support of my family and my colleagues and by an unshakeable
belief in the potential of our country and the people who live here. Presiding Officer, like many of us, you were
present in the chamber when it was officially opened in 2004. On that day, Liz Lochhead,
who would become Scotland’s second makar, read a poem written by the late Edwin Morgan,
our first makar. The poem closes with these words of wisdom. They are words penned by
a makar on behalf of the people—words that every man and woman elected to serve in the
Parliament now and in the years to come should carry in their hearts. “We give you our consent to govern, don’t
pocket it and ride away. We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern
well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold.
We give you this great building, don’t let your work and hope be other than
great when you enter and begin.
So now begin. Open the doors and begin.” This Parliament, with its new powers and responsibilities,
its new members and its newly elected First Minister, has a renewed mandate to be bold,
so let us approach the next five years with a passion for hard work, a sense of great
hope and a determination not just to live up to but to exceed the expectations of the
people we serve. That is what I will strive to do each and every day, so now let us begin.
[Applause.] The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh):
Can I thank the First Minister and the next item of business is consideration of business
motion 61, in the name of Joe FitzPatrick, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau, setting
out our first business programme. I would ask any Member who wishes to speak
against the motion to press their request to speak button now. I call on Joe FitzPatrick
to move motion 61. Formally moved. No Member has asked to speak against the motion
therefore I will now put the question to the Chamber. The question is that motion 61 in
the name of Joe FitzPatrick be agreed to, are we all agreed? Yes The motion is therefore agreed to. The next
item of business is consideration of business motion 63 in the name of Joe FitzPatrick on
behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau setting out the number of members of the parliamentary
corporation. I would ask any Member who wishes to speak against the motion to press their
request to speak button now. I call on Joe FitzPatrick to move motion 63. Moved. No Member has asked to speak against the motion
therefore I will now put the question to the Chamber. The question is that motion number
63 in the name of Joe FitzPatrick be agreed to, are we all agreed? Yes. The motion is therefore agreed to. The Presiding Officer:
Before I close this meeting, all members are reminded to remain in the chamber as we are
going to take a photograph shortly. I will ask the photographer Andrew Cowan to take
over proceedings from the gallery and I close this meeting of the Parliament.

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