Jack McConnell, the Scottish Labour leader, and Alex Salmond, his counterpart in the Scottish National Party, made their first public appearance together after the election at last night’s Kirking of the Parliament ceremony.
The grim-faced First Minister and his likely successor stood shoulder to shoulder as they awaited the arrival of Prince Charles at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh.
The service to bless the parliament was attended by newly elected MSPs, spiritual leaders and representatives of the Scottish establishment.
The leaders of Scotland’s four main political parties put aside their negotiations to bow their heads as the assembled faiths of Scotland sought God’s blessing for the new parliament, which convenes for the first time today.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Rt Rev Alan McDonald, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, listened as George Reid, the outgoing Presiding Officer, began the ceremony by reading from Proverbs 15.
That offered pertinent advice to the Nationalists as they try to put together a coalition government: “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
The service included prayers from a Muslim imam, Mustaqeem Shah, and Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities.
After the service, Prince Charles met the leaders of the four main parties, who stood side by side in the lobby.