Then there was the division bell going off as new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie got up to speak. He burst out laughing, but managed to get on with it. The Presiding Officer said she was sorry but "it wisnae me."
Willie's speech was measured, but robust. He's clearly keen to make sure that the SNP, now that it's the establishment, doesn't get too big for its boots, that Alex Salmond delivers on his promises to govern like a minority. It would be very tempting for him not to bother with trying to find consensus and be inclusive and to let power corrupt him.
This is what Willie said, from the Official Report.
I, too, congratulate the ministerial team on its appointment. This is an exciting moment and an exciting time ahead for the new ministers, particularly those entering Government for the first time. I wish them well.
Majority government is a huge responsibility. As the size of the ministerial team increases, so do our expectations of what it can achieve. I am sure that members of the new team will not take that responsibility lightly. They are answerable to the people of Scotland for the promises made during the election. Unlike last time, as a majority Government, the SNP will find that it has nowhere to hide. The SNP will be judged on how it uses its majority—and how it does not. As we have heard this morning, the Opposition parties in this place will work with the SNP on its positive promises to make sure that they are kept.
I hope that ministers will agree to engage with us so that, where possible, we can agree a joint approach on the many areas in which disagreement might be over detail rather than ambition. My fear, however, is that the First Minister will not choose to use his enlarged team wisely; that instead of the focus on jobs, on growing the economy and on excellence in education and public services there will be a focus on breaking up Britain; and that what we see before us this morning is Alex Salmond’s new independence army.
However, the First Minister’s loyal foot soldiers have a choice: services over separation; picking up the economy, not picking fights with Westminster; and putting the needs of Scotland before their party-political agenda. During the election, we heard from the Scottish National Party many welcome promises on health, education, justice and more; last week in the First Minister’s speech, we heard not one single mention of them. I hope that his new team will not make the same mistake.
Brian Taylor, who is one of my favourite journalists and who is usually pretty fair, rebuked Willie slightly for being too outspoken and not matching the gentle mood of the occasion which is now a Holyrood tradition.
However, I took a look back to 1999, the first time Parliament had to approve ministers. The Official Report for that is here. What a total bunfight that was. You don't associate David McLetchie with silly games, but there he was suggesting Jim Wallace and Ross Finnie weren't fit to be ministers because they'd been elected on false pretences. I'd actually forgotten the extent to which the SNP were such a pain in the backside during their years of opposition. I think Government has matured them quite a lot. So, this isn't traditionally quite such a gentle occasion after all.
In that context, Willie's comments today, which were pretty polite anyway, were all sweetness and light.