AS members of the Scottish Cabinet take up their roles, we should all welcome them. Just as it is the duty of individual councillors, MSPs and MPs to represent all their constituents, whether they supported their candidacy or not, it is the role of any government to work in the interests of every citizen.

But there is an equal obligation for the public to acknowledge any newly-elected government’s mandate, to wish it the best and give it a chance. Opposition, scrutiny and challenge should play a part in that, but in a constructive spirit.

If the Government’s charge is to improve the nation’s position and prospects, opposition politicians, the press and the electorate ought to support measures toward that end, rather than reflexively objecting. But they need not be shy of advancing ideas for improvement or refinement of policy.

This has never been more important. During the pandemic, much of the knee-jerk partisan position-taking of which governments and opposition parties are frequently guilty was set aside, as politicians grasped the urgent realities of the crisis.

Despite the numerous criticisms that could be, and were, made of governments’ actions or other parties’ positions, a remarkable degree of consensus was achieved, both within parliaments, and among the parliaments of the UK. Such an approach, a clear necessity in the emergency, ought also to be the aim in constructing recovery from it.

Whatever the previous errors and mis-steps, Scotland and the UK as a whole are emerging strongly, with a very successful vaccine programme. Almost certainly as a result of that, the UK currently has by far the lowest number of cases of any European country. Vigilance against new variants and maintaining a cautious, common-sense approach remain important, but that position indicates that governments can turn to long-term policy in other areas, many of them seriously damaged during the pandemic and vital to recovery.

Health and social care – which, after the misjudgments around care homes, it is obvious should be tackled together – remain a top priority as we return to routine treatment for other diseases, face-to-face GPs’ surgeries, and the huge backlog that has inevitably been created. Urgently catching up with patients with other conditions will require funding, of course, but that cannot be the whole answer, or costs will simply spiral ever upwards. Imaginative, pragmatic and dogma-free approaches will be required.

Education, badly interrupted for so many, despite schools’ and universities’ best efforts, will be another area crucial to recovery. A modern economy relies on an educated workforce, and industry on skills and training. The Government’s policies to this point have, at the very least, failed to meet its own expectations. Rather than criticisms being greeted with instinctive denials and affront, now is the time to rethink and work to restore Scotland’s previously admirable reputation for equitable, high-quality education provision.

One piece of good news is that the UK economy has proven more robust than expected, but Scotland’s spending still outstrips its counterparts elsewhere in the UK, and significant growth and understanding of business’s needs is essential. Transport connectivity will play a huge role in that: devolved rail must match and work with changes being introduced elsewhere, the dreadful ferries’ fiasco must be sorted, and the state of the roads urgently addressed.

Some of this is the work of local government, which should have the proper resources to tackle potholes, housing, welfare and other fundamental services and amenities. That should involve more freedom from Holyrood, but with that comes responsibility. Taxpayers, at every level, fund such nuts-and-bolts issues, and have a right to expect accountability, decent services, value for money, and a return on investment. It is our money, not the Government’s, and must be more effectively deployed.

We should approach these issues forcefully, and positively. Whatever your own politics, this Government has strong popular support, an experienced team, and a capable First Minister. It should be familiar with the mechanisms for delivering on these priorities and be encouraged, both by active support and constructive challenge, to get to work on them.