One of the first few difficult decisions that new Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick will have to make is who gets to quiz the First Minister at Question Time, how many questions will they get and how regularly will they be asked.

Given the SNP enjoys a majority in the Parliament, there is an even greater incentive for Salmond to duck and dodge answering questions. A ‘you can’t do anything about it anyway’ mentality could easily seep in over the next five years so a strong opposition with ample time to press the Government is as important as ever. It was relatively easier for the SNP to take umbrage with opposition parties on policies from Local Income Tax to Minimum Pricing because the onus was as much on Labour, Tories, Greens and Lib Dems to get involved as it was on the SNP to deliver on its promises. Not any more, and that means opposition parties have more of a right to be righteous.

Labour and the Conservatives will no doubt take first and second spots in the questioning stakes, possibly even with an extra question each.
It is difficult to quantify to what extent FMQs defined Gray and Goldie’s tenures as leader but it could be a useful springboard into the public arena for either (or both) of their replacements.

The Liberal Democrats, to reflect their shrunken size, will no doubt be entitled to a couple of questions every other week. A frustrating demotion for the party but it may lead to more targeted and more effective questioning as the party seeks to find a foothold in the electorate’s hearts. It does seem that Willie Rennie is going to opt for the Mr Angry mould of opposition that didn’t serve Gray or Scott terribly well. We shall se if that changes in the chamber at Question Time.

There is an argument that as the Greens are the only Opposition party not to lose any seats then Patrick Harvie should not suffer a reduced profile at FMQs, and perhaps even increase it given the overall shrinkage for other opposition parties. Realistically this won’t happen and it’ll be business as usual for the Greens. The battle for relevance, within or outwith FMQs, will be even more challenging now that the party’s 2 MSPs do not hold the balance of power.

The main problem of course is the content. We have had ‘hamster wars’ between McLeish and Swinney and last term was more than a little bit panto. Adding a touch of theatre to proceedings is welcome of course but whoever asks however many questions in whatever order over the next five years, they will do well to have learned from the election that a constructive, positive, logical line of questioning is key.

And there’s no Lord Foulkes any more so at least they should be a little bit quieter…