Much has been written and spoken, over the 10 days which have passed since First Minister Humza Yousaf delivered his Programme for Government, including on these pages of The Herald. I must say, though, that of all the words uttered by Mr Yousaf last Tuesday, there were two which made me sit up in my chair and take note: “David McLetchie”.

It is almost exactly 10 years since David, my first boss, died. I went to work for him completely by accident. I was fresh out of university, with a Bank of Scotland corporate banking graduate job awaiting me 12 months later, and my friend worked as one of David’s researchers. He asked me to come and help for a year, and after that David asked me to stay. With a pay rise which meant that I would still be earning less than 50 per cent of the salary that the bank was offering, I said yes.

Such was the power, the allure, of David McLetchie. At times inspirational, at times frustrating, at times kind and tender, at times incredibly difficult. We, his inner circle, were invested in him. We were protective of him. We loved him.

His time in charge was, alas, too short. His defenestration over taxi expenses, errors which in today’s politics would have merited 100 words on page 34 of a tabloid, robbed Scottish politics of someone who can be regarded as one of the top five or so figures of the devolution era, and as the best Conservative politician of the era.

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I was one of four people in the sitting room in David’s house on the day we reached the conclusion that he would have to resign. He, and we, were distraught. He loved that party, and being leader of it, and despite his and his party’s opposition to its creation, David loved the Scottish Parliament too.

I now measure him, though, by what he did after he was leader, rather than what he did during his time in office. Eighteen months after his resignation, his successor Annabel Goldie took the party into the 2007 Holyrood elections. By then, I was its communications director and was responsible for writing the manifesto. However, this was an election in which we intended to focus on Annabel’s personality rather than any policy substance. So, while time and energy went into photo opportunities of Annabel abseiling or riding tractors, there was little interest in the dots and commas of the manifesto.

I needed help. I was 26 years old and I lacked the life experience to understand the holistic impact of the wide range of public policy about which I was writing (perhaps that is a lesson for some of those occupying the brown chairs in Holyrood today). David was there; he was the only one who was there. Other than me and David, I am not aware of any other person on the planet who read every word of that manifesto. It was not a great platform (David’s from four years hitherto remains the best the Tories have produced in devolution) but it was certainly better for his input.

Four years later, in 2011, the party suffered its most dismal result, which led to the campaign by Murdo Fraser to consign the Scottish Tories to history and start a new Scotland-only party of the centre right.

Murdo and I, along with a couple of other very notable souls, had been early adopters of this solution to the centre-right’s problem. David was not one of them, and indeed it was really the only matter about which he and I regularly argued. I wanted a separate party and fiscal autonomy for the Scottish Parliament, and David did not. We argued about it on the golf course, in the curry house, and at work.

Nonetheless, David never let it impact his core loyalties and ideological sensibilities, and so he supported Murdo in the leadership contest. The negotiations were excruciating. I spent nearly two hours on the phone to David, by Edinburgh Zoo’s panda enclosure, during a visit with my wife and daughter, who was less than a year old at the time, going back and forth over how we could phrase his support for Murdo, whilst simultaneously making clear that he was sceptical about the new party concept.

The vast majority of MSPs backed Murdo; and after the leadership election David played a key role in holding that group together in support of Ruth Davidson. I have absolutely no doubt that, had we won, he would have been at the forefront of helping us create the new party that he did not, deep down, want.

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I reflect on all these things now because, after hearing David’s name again last week, I cannot help but wonder how he would have viewed our politics today. David was a committed Conservative and a fierce unionist, but despite that enjoyed an excellent relationship with contemporaries such as Lord McConnell, John Swinney and a host of others from his peer group. They did not like his politics, but their feelings towards the man went past respect and into genuine affection.

Those, like me, who have been in and around the Scottish Parliament throughout most of its existence, know that the Holyrood of 2023 and the Holyrood of 2013 are very different. There is an atmosphere of distrust and, at times, downright hatred, both within and between parties.

David would have disliked that. He would have been distressed at the impact that it is having on the perception of the Parliament, and about the impact it is having on outcomes for the neediest people in this country.

And I am certain he would want the wise heads in all of Scotland’s political parties to lift those heads up and look outside the building they occupy. He understood that he was part of a Parliament which can change lives, and he took it seriously.

The walls of Scotland’s political bubble are thicker than ever. I think David would want them burst.