Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:20 pm on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party 12:20 pm, 28th November 2001

I know that you do not possess it, Presiding Officer, but patience is indeed a virtue. I am just coming to that point. The announcement of Mr Gray's appointment as Minister for Social Justice sees Mr Gray coming off the subs bench as Susan Deacon joins the ranks of the ministerial undead. To us, it appears that it was a panic appointment. Perhaps it was to balance the east of Scotland purge that saw three ministers and a deputy minister from Lothian given the boot and only Malcolm Chisholm promoted.

In his speech, Mr Eulogy talked about how wonderful Mr Gray was and said that he was widely respected. Well, Mr Gray is widely respected, but if he was so great why was he not Jack McConnell's first choice for the post? If it is not about cronyism, why ditch Jackie Baillie? Does the First Minister believe that she failed? We certainly believe that she failed. We believe that she failed to eliminate rough sleeping, to invest properly in housing, to reduce child poverty significantly and to spend £122 million of her budget last year. If she has failed, what will Iain Gray do differently? Will the policies be different, or will it just be the same old same old, albeit with a new face who is a devotee of the First Minister?

What we have today is not so much the best team for Scotland as the best team for Jack. The Executive takes the Forrest Gump approach to politics. We look at who is going to be in the Executive next, but we just never know which one we are going to get.