The first 100 days of the re-elected SNP Government will see us working harder than ever to deliver for all the people and communities of Scotland.
I have already stated that my pledge to close the attainment gap in education – to ensure equal chances for all children, regardless of their background – will be the defining mission of this, the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament and the third term of an SNP Government.
But, as will also become clear when I outline the shape of the administration this coming week, the economy and jobs will also be at the top of our list of priorities.
Put simply, none of our other pledges, whether in health, education or elsewhere, stand a long-term chance of success if we do not keep a laser like focus on the economy and the need to generate revenue to invest in our future.
We have already achieved a lot in terms of employment, inward investment and export successes, but in a constantly evolving and challenging global environment, with the potential for renewed economic turbulence internationally, it is vital that we make sure Scotland is as well-equipped as possible to make a success of our considerable economic strengths.
To that end, I have already signalled my intention to create a new, dedicated cabinet post with responsibility for the economy.
That will involve separating out some of the responsibilities which have up until now been part of the finance brief.
It is a necessary step now that Holyrood is gaining new tax and welfare powers – and is something that John Swinney himself, as Finance Secretary in the last parliament, suggested was needed.
Under the new set-up I will unveil in the coming days, the new Cabinet Secretary for the economy will be focused entirely on supporting the economy and engaging intensively with business to make sure that we do everything possible to stimulate growth, boost productivity and help protect and create well-paid jobs.
Meanwhile, there will be a dedicated Finance Secretary responsible for overseeing the government’s budget and for managing the introduction of the parliament’s new tax and welfare powers.
Much has been said in the days since the election about the need for compromise and consensus in this new parliamentary term.
I broadly agree with that – indeed, in principle I think it better that, whenever possible, laws are passed with the highest possible degree of consensus, regardless of parliament’s make-up.
That isn’t always possible of course, and I want to be absolutely clear that I as First Minister and the Government I lead will always be open to listening, finding common cause wherever we can – and, on occasion, compromising.
I think that an ability to adapt proposals, to be flexible and to listen and sometimes to take on board suggestions made by other parties will be to the benefit of governance as a whole.
But nobody should mistake that willingness to compromise for a lack of determination to implement the manifesto that we were so emphatically elected on.
Let me be clear: the SNP has won an overwhelming mandate from the people of Scotland to continue as the country’s government for the next five years and to deliver on the election pledges we made in our manifesto.
We may have fallen a whisker short of an outright majority, but the SNP’s share of the constituency vote went up from 2011, and we became the first party ever to win more than a million votes in a Holyrood election. We have a higher share of the vote than any other government across the UK and Western Europe.
That being the case, other parties also need to respect the will of the people, and be prepared to compromise themselves on occasion.
It is not for the party which finished a distant second – or any of those which came after that – to dictate terms or to try and turn this session into one of obstruction for obstruction’s sake. The electorate would look very dimly indeed on any attempt to turn this into a “blocking parliament” – people want efficient government unencumbered by political gamesmanship or needless politicking.
So while I have made clear that I am more than open to new developments to ensure greater scrutiny – such as extending First Minister’s Questions to 45 minutes or having committee conveners elected by parliament as a whole – this session of parliament must not turn into the opposition for opposition’s sake style which has too often characterised too much of the other parties’ stances in the past.
And let me also be clear what that means when it comes to Scotland’s future. I have already said that there will not be another independence referendum without a material change in circumstances – such as being taken out of Europe against our will – or clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the majority view of people across Scotland.
That remains the case, and the election result has changed nothing in that respect. Parliament retains a majority of MSPs from parties which backed independence in the 2014 referendum, and any proposal for a second referendum in this term would be a matter for parliament has a whole to consider and vote on. But it is the people of Scotland who are sovereign, and ultimately it will be they and only they who decide this country’s future.