Opposition politicians are finding life hard since the change at the top of the education ministry. Jack McConnell has barely put a foot wrong, forcing his opponents to welcome virtually everything he has done.
However, Mike Russell, his SNP shadow, does his best to resume normal hostilities. After McConnell's holding statement on the teachers' negotiations last week, two days before the settlement, Russell got stuck in: "Does not the minister find it incredible that, after almost four years of discussion and negotiation; after the review that was set up in May 1997 under the SJNC; after te negotiations that started in September 1998; after the failure of those negotiations in September 1999; after the establishment of the McCrone committee also in September 1999; after the report of the McCrone committee in May 2000; after December 18 when groups were meant to reach a conclusion; and after two weekends so far this year during which there has been speculation, spinning and doubt, he is still unable to come to this chamber and tell us anything at all?"
Not to be deflected from the new consensualism, McConnell replied: "And I wish Mr Russell a happy new year too."