Interesting to read the hints in both the Scotsman and Herald this morning that the SNP majority in Holyrood may coalesce behind "one of their own" (either Tricia Marwick or Christine Grahame) in the vote to select the new Presiding Officer tomorrow. If true, there are fairly obvious pros and cons...
1. It would remove the danger that a Presiding Officer from the opposition ranks would do what John McTernan suggested, and pull a fast one by ruling an independence referendum bill out of order.
2. It would infuriate Tavish. In fact, it sounds like the mere possibility of it is already infuriating Tavish.
1. It might look a bit tribal given that this is generally regarded as being Labour's 'turn'.
2. It would reduce the SNP's absolute parliamentary majority from a potential ten to eight. Of course, that's still a position that would have been beyond our wildest ravings a week ago, but who knows when an extra vote might come in handy? It's worth remembering that the SNP are now more vulnerable to having to face Holyrood by-elections than the other parties due to holding 53 of the 73 constituency seats. I gather that they also used up their full complement of candidates in Central Scotland, so if any of the list seats fell vacant in that region they couldn't be replaced. Of course it's still highly unlikely that such a solid majority would be significantly reduced over the course of the parliamentary term, let alone wiped out, but with five long years ahead you just never know.
Or to put it another way, you'd need to have a crystal ball to know what the most rational thing to do is!
UPDATE : I see that Labour's Hugh Henry has explicitly made clear that he would not use his powers as Presiding Officer to block a referendum bill, and indeed has added that he thinks opposition members should stop "carping on" about the validity of such a bill. So I'd suggest that removes the main argument against the SNP installing a Labour Presiding Officer.
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What an absolute tragedy about David Cairns. I dare say I've criticised him on this blog at some point, but he came across as a genuinely lovely guy. He also has the important legacy of overturning the ban on Catholic priests becoming MPs - in some ways an even more pernicious piece of discrimination than the one on Catholics being able to accede to the throne.