And so farewell.
I am grateful, indeed I am moved, by your warm words. They are more than I merit.
Thirty-three years ago, a third of a century ago, half my life ago, I was elected for the first time.
I believed then, as I believe now, that if we are to create in Scotland a society which is enterprising and compassionate… which is comfortable with itself at home and capable of competing in today’s global marketplace… if we are to achieve these goals, then we must take a large measure of responsibility for them ourselves, through a Scottish Parliament.
It has been my greatest privilege, a third of a century later, to end my active political career as Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.
Four years ago, we were in some difficulty. The costs and delays of Holyrood had brought hostile headlines, understandably adverse comment from the public, fractiousness, and damage to Devolution. It was clear that we had to move in before we moved on.
Well we have moved in. And we have moved on.
We can all take pride in this Scottish Parliament. Since 1999 we have grown in confidence, commitment and clarity of debate.
In this Chamber, in Committee and in constituencies we have all worked long and hard to make a real difference to the daily lives of the people of Scotland.
We are now widely seen as a participative parliament, firmly founded in our principles of Accountability, Accessibility, Equality of Opportunity and the Sharing of Power. We have started to let the light shine in on Scottish life.
We have opened the doors and given Holyrood to the people. We have looked over the horizon with the Futures Forum and we have played to packed houses in the Festival of Politics.
And by bringing G8 participants, Carnegie Medallists, our friends from Malawi and the Microsoft Government Leaders to this place, we have helped to put Holyrood on the international map.
My thanks to all of you at this time of transition.
I have tried to be fair and I have tried to be firm and give you my trust. I am most grateful for the trust which you have given me in return.
My thanks to Paul Grice and the staff of this Parliament for their constant support and engagement.
My thanks to Lee Bridges and my private office staff in Edinburgh and to Ellen Forson and my staff in Alloa. They have given me laughter and loyalty, and shall remain good friends.
My thanks to the people of Ochil, the community from which I come. Over 33 years in politics, I have stood only for election there. I am deeply grateful for the trust and kindness of my own folk.
And, finally, my thanks to my dear wife Dee. For over a third of a century, on bad days as well as good days, she has always been there. And without her, it would not have been possible.
And, so, farewell. A final, fond, farewell.
Go forth now from this place and into the election battle.
Return to your regions and constituencies and prepare the next chapter in Scotland’s story.
I now close this second session of the Scottish Parliament.