We’ve been having a bit of a chat in the Better Nation team about the possible contenders for Presiding Officer.  It is a pivotal post, the public face of the Parliament, and it really does matter who gets to sit in the big chair at the head of the Chamber.  So we thought we’d post our thoughts – or at least Malc and the Burd did.

First up Malc’s views:

Thinking about the role of the Presiding Officer (PO), obviously there are no hard and fast rules here.  Its a non-whipped secret vote and candidates are on their own in seeking support.  Historically, we’ve had a Lib Dem PO (with SNP & Lab DPOs) in 1999, an SNP PO (with Tory & Lab DPOs in 2003) and a Tory PO (with SNP & Lab DPOs) in 2007.   Contrast this with Wales, where Plaid peer Lord Daffyd
Elis-Thomas has held the PO’s seat since 1999.

Historically then, three of the “big four” (can we still include the Lib Dems as a “big party”?) have held the chair – so I suspect that it probably should be Labour’s “turn” to provide the PO.  However, they were burned pretty badly on Thursday, and lost a lot of experience from their benches, replacing some of the class of 1999 with new list members.  There may then be some reluctance to give up an experienced MSP to the PO’s chair, preferring to keep their experience to help some of their new intake get used to the new job.

That said, I think they have a really strong candidate for PO in Patricia Ferguson.  She’s experienced – she’s been in Parliament since 1999.  She has experience of the PO’s job, having served as DPO in the first parliamentary session.  And, perhaps just as importantly – she would be the first woman to take the job.  I think she’d do it well and do it fairly, which is pretty much all I’m looking for in a PO.

I’ve heard a couple of other names mentioned in connection with the job.  Tavish Scott has apparently been touting himself (though with a party of 5 at Holyrood, that’s surely unlikely).  Roseanna Cunningham has been touted by some Nats – and with a majority, it may well the easiest thing for the PO to come from them.  It also may help smooth over some of the legal issues with the referendum bill… but I’m sure that thought hasn’t crossed their minds!

I’ll leave my contribution there.  Any other ideas?