Later this morning, First Minister Alex Salmond will travel up the Royal Mile to the old Scottish Parliament building on the High Street beside St Giles Cathedral to formally become the First Minister again.
At the Court of Session housed in the old Parliament, Mr Salmond will receive the Royal Warrant, signed by Her Majesty the Queen in Ireland yesterday, be sworn in as First Minister in front of the nation’s top judges, and be confirmed as the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. (Well, even a modern nation should keep some of its traditions, and the person with the Seal is the top walrus around.)
The FM will then announce his Cabinet around lunchtime. Expect no great changes, and Frank Mulholland QC, the Solicitor General, will be made Lord Advocate. All the ministers and the new Lord Advocate will be confirmed in office next Wednesday, May 25.
The order of business for the new session of Parliament shows that next Thursday, May 26, the First Minister will played the leading role in the first debate entitled ‘Taking Scotland Forward.’
TRIAL JURY TO DECIDE
It seems like we’ve been predicting this all week, but finally, after a 15 week-long trial, the story which will make all the Scottish headlines later today or tomorrow will be the verdict in the most sensational murder case in recent Scottish history.
At the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Bannatyne will make his final, final, remarks to the jury who will then decide whether or not Malcolm Webster, as charged, murdered his first wife, tried to murder his second wife, and attempted to bigamously marry a third woman.
The longest-ever Scottish trial of a single person accused of murder is testing the robustness of Scots Law as the attempted murder charge relates to incidents that took place in New Zealand 12 years ago.
Prosecutor Derek Ogg QC said that, if convicted, Webster would be seen as one of the “most notorious murders of our modern times.” Webster’s defence counsel Edgar Prais QC said his client was “a liar, a thief and a philanderer” but not a murderer.
It is for the jury to decide the outcome, either this afternoon or tomorrow.
ALCOHOL CRIME BAN
Grampian Police and Aberdeen licensees will cause controversy later today with the announcement of a radical plan to tackle alcohol-related violence in the city.
Area-wide or whole city exclusion orders will see those convicted of alcohol-fuelled crimes being banned entirely from licensed premises.
BUSY DAY FOR NEWS
An exceptionally busy day for news yesterday, so here’s a quick round-up of what made the headlines. All these stories can be accessed via the web.
The First Minister’s election by Parliament and his speech and those of the opposition parties’ leaders were given wide coverage, particularly Mr Salmond’s six priorities of greater borrowing powers; control of corporation tax; a Scottish share of crown estate revenues; control of excise duties; improved broadcasting including a digital channel; and a stronger say in European policy.
The growth in sectarian crimes was given prominence by The Herald and The Scotsman. The latter also features a full preview of Alistair Darling’s speech to be given in Edinburgh tonight – is there any point in anyone now attending his Hume Lecture? – in which he is calling for the referendum on independence to be held now. His advice will no doubt be given much attention in Scottish Government circles…
The Daily Record rightly gives a lot of space to the growing mystery over the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease which has killed three people and infected six others in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Worryingly, the source of the outbreak has not been traced.
The business pages are dominated by the anger of Lloyds Group shareholders at the AGM in Glasgow, where there was much criticism of executive pay rates.
The Herald, STV and others give details of the initial stopping off places for the Olympic Torch relay in June 2012. Judging by the route, it seems impossible that the Torch will be seen in Argyll, the Inner Hebrides, Caithness and Sutherland, Perthshire, South-west Scotland or the Borders. In other words, much of the country will miss it.
Margo MacDonald has penned a very thoughtful column in the Edinburgh Evening News. Whether or not you agree with her ‘Independence and Beyond’ concept, her musings are well worth a read. See it at http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/opinion/Margo-MacDonald-Time-to-move.6770295.jp