Well, the people who voted have chosen the government they want to rule over them for the next five years.
The nationalists did well and although we have a new cabinet, many of the same old faces remain.
Given the concerns there have been over health, it was an interesting choice to place Humza Yousaf into that department. He is a strong and determined individual, unlike the previous incumbent and will undoubtedly leave his mark.
Setting aside the inquiry into Covid-19, there is a shortage of qualified medical staff and those left are feeling exhausted following their unswerving dedication over the last year. There is a large backlog of elective surgery cases.
All of that has to be dealt with.
The challenge of introducing a national care system, which has been on everyone’s agenda for over 20 years, will be difficult. But no doubt Labour’s Jackie Baillie will use her experience to hold Yousaf to account.
All parties pledged to deal with failures in health and education
In education, Shirley-Anne Somerville takes over from John Swinney who leaves behind him falling standards, exam chaos and staff unhappiness. Hopefully this time round the government will listen to the parents, pupils and trade unions and improve our once proud education system. Labour’s Michael Marra will relish pressuring Somerville on these burning issues.
And, who knows? The political parties may decide to work together to improve Scotland’s situation, especially since all parties pledged to deal with the failures in health and education.
My hope is that all the MSPs who asked for our vote in the north-east will challenge the government on its failure to provide sufficient funds for local councils.
The government’s grant-aided expenditure is supposed to meet 85% of the monies required by local authorities. However, it seldom does, and additional new responsibilities placed on councils inevitably lack the real cash required.
Business rates, which go directly back into the Scottish Government’s coffers, are also extremely high and discourage new businesses.
Give organisations guaranteed funding
It would be worth our representatives arguing for a three year budget cycle of funding.
I tried this in the final years of my leadership of the city with the voluntary sector.
They were guaranteed to receive the same funding over the next three year period. If things went well, they might get more – but they would never receive less.
This gave them financial stability and meant they could undertake their charitable work without having to spend the bulk of their year worrying about donations. There is no reason why the government couldn’t follow that example.
Aberdeen is a city with so many positives
With newly elected representatives in our parliament, I want the best for Aberdeen. I look forward to the days when the opening of a new harbour and visitor centre arrives, which would present Torry with a golden mile into the city. To when Union Terrace Gardens is finally opened for live events for our citizens to enjoy. To when the council finally decides to pedestrianise Union Street, and our iconic buildings like the Music Hall, Beach Ballroom and Maritime museums have fresh, welcoming signs encouraging the public to use them.
Let’s stop whining over the loss of John Lewis and look for new, more innovative and quality shopping for Aberdeen
Let’s stop whining over the loss of John Lewis and Debenhams. They were commercial business decisions, based on falling sales and the rise in online shopping. You can find those stores in most city centres. Let’s look for new, more innovative and quality shopping for Aberdeen.
I sometimes visit Michie’s Pharmacy on Union Street, but I don’t go there for medicine. I go to enjoy their book selection, their unusual quality gifts, their different foodstuffs and – more importantly – their coffee shop. That’s a diverse shopping experience, and all from one unit. It’s what modern shopping is about – innovation, quality and an enjoyable experience.
Then we have our leisure facilities at the Sports Village and two leading universities with strong international reputations. We are recognised as the European energy capital, which is now diversifying into new green technologies. And of course, our arts sector has produced many talented people. There are so many positives.
MSPs need drive and ambition
Aberdeen is my city and the north-east my roots. I want people to come here and enjoy a city that’s different from the usual run-of-the-mill.
Our elected representatives are privileged to be serving the people of the north-east. They are now our ambassadors for the area, and must respond accordingly. Ordinary people have put their trust in them.
Let’s hope those MSPs have the drive and ambition to leave a lasting legacy of which we can all be proud, encouraging others to come and sample the delights of Scotland’s third city.
Len Ironside is a former champion wrestler who served as an Aberdeen councillor for 35 years, with four years as council leader