Editor's comment

Leaving aside the farce of the 140,000 spoilt ballot papers, the only thing that can be said with certainty about the results of the Scottish parliamentary election is that we will have to get used to living in uncertain times. The delays and doubts which followed may be new to the Scottish scene, but they are the stuff of government-building in most other countries. Some of the comments suggesting that the haggling and indecision imply that we could not organise a jolly evening in a brewery are wide of the mark.

As we went to press, the signs were that the SNP would try to form a minority government, with tacit rather than formal support from the Greens - perhaps even from the Liberal Democrats. If that proves to be the case, the Nationalist education minister will have his or her work cut out with promises to keep - expand nursery education, cut class sizes to 18 in P1-3, reform the curriculum to favour languages, science and technology, improve vocational education, end the graduate endowment and pay off student debt.

At the same time, the SNP's pledge to sweep away council tax with a local income tax, supported by the Liberal Democrats, has the potential to prolong considerable uncertainty for local services such as education - if the reform doesn't get bogged down in parliamentary wrangling or kicked into the long grass somewhere between Holyrood and Westminster.

It may not be the result of the national election but of the local ones, however, which will have an immediate impact on schools. The varied political hues which will take control in council chambers could create a similarly varied educational landscape. Tussles between a national SNP-led administration and local authorities could be as much of a feature of the next four years as rows between Edinburgh and London.

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