I haven't blogged for a wee while. In the immediate aftermath of the election I've been focusing on my university dissertation, editing down the first draft and beginning the process of turning it into the final product.
But now, with the electoral dust settling, I want to reflect on what I think will be a fast emerging reality over these next five years - the development of very different political and social models north and south of the border.
In his speech to SNP conference last autumn, Alex Salmond said: "Much has been said about the Big Society. I am more concerned with the Fair Society." These two sentences tell us a great deal about the approach that will be adopted by the SNP government. The SNP way stands in contrast to the ambition of the UK government, evidenced by their actions and articulated once again in the speech David Cameron delivered earlier this week.
In his address to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, I believe our very different destination will become clear, and I don't mean that in a constitutional sense. As is often the case during an election campaign, some of the bigger picture themes are obscured by the day to day detail. But tomorrow's Taking Scotland Forward speech presents the opportunity to capture the various elements and present them as a whole. It will give the First Minister the chance to set out in clear terms the sort of country he believes Scotland can become. Effectively, the shape and tenor of the society we can create, together, over these next few years.
And what are some of those elements? On the economy it is a desire to continue pump-priming jobs and growth through ongoing investment in national infrastructure. The SNP, in the last session, delayed the onset of the London government's cuts and the result is a much stronger employment performance compared with the rest of the UK. This is most apparent in the construction sector which saw 14% growth over the last year. Stronger and more flexible borrowing powers in the future will be a key element, enabling us to maintain this focus on job creation.
In the health service, we are determined to ensure the preservation of a truly national service while in England, government plans will lead to the effective dismemberment of their NHS. Our model of a mutual NHS, with patients as partners rather than customers, is based on a belief in the value of a public sector ethos. We know that it is a commitment to something greater than profit that delivers exceptional performance in our public services. Contributing to a wider public good - to have meaning in what we do - is, quite literally, priceless.
In our universities, the Scottish Government's commitment to maintain free higher education stands in contrast to a Westminster approach that will see university education based on ability to pay and not the ability to learn. I have heard the First Minister, on numerous occasions, speak with pride of Scotland's early commitment to free education: free, compulsory education which produced the fertile ground for a proliferation of inventors and thinkers, gave birth to the Enlightenment and created a golden thread of learning that today is reflected in the internationally recognised excellence of our research. And that, we know, is something worth protecting.
And, if we could, we would not be spending billions on new nuclear weapons as the London government plans. Instead, as a nation, we would choose to invest, I believe, in gold-standard childcare and decent pensions. These speak more to who we are, who we want to be, than weapons of mass-destruction.
There is a harshness to the UK government's approach that goes against the grain of Scottish society. In the 1980's Scotland reacted against the then Tory government because we sensed so many of the things we held dear were under threat. And that wasn't simply a threat to any one service or any one industry - the threat was to the very fabric of our society, to the things that defined us as a nation and as a community. The Thatcher way was alien.
Then, we lacked the ability to choose our own path. Today, with a Scottish Parliament and Government, that opportunity exists. And it is an opportunity we will take. Step by step, with hard work and determination, we can build, and will build, a new and fairer Scotland. Not yet in every way, but in many ways. And, the country we create will be a very different one from the nation that is emerging down south.
This is a tale of two countries, of two very different visions of society and of the future. It reflects contrasting priorities. And that, ultimately, is what Home Rule - devolution and independence - is all about.