A 25th anniversary is traditionally marked with something silver: a photo frame perhaps, a clock, maybe jewellery. In Scotland, as you may have noticed, we like to do things differently.

So it was that the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, was due to arrive at the Scottish Parliament yesterday bearing the gift of … a bible. Sometimes the gags just write themselves.

The obvious candidate for divine intervention at the moment is surely the governing partnership between the Scottish Greens and the SNP. At the last time of checking, it was a neck-and-neck race to see who would be out the door first. But the Scottish Parliament is doing okay, is it not?

True, celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of devolution have been low-key, to say the least. The day itself, May 12, marking a quarter century since the first meeting of the parliament, falls on a Sunday. A cynic might think the policy was to keep celebrations on the down low for fear of attracting public attention. Give the people half a chance to think about the Scottish Parliament and, well, they might start to wonder if it has been worth the candle. Heresy I know, but we are over 25 now. That is more than old enough to ponder such big questions.

Full disclosure, like the vast majority of Scots I was an enthusiastic backer of the Scottish Parliament. I still am. The more the merrier when it comes to democracy. Even after all these years, Winnie Ewing’s words on May 12, 1999, still make the heart soar. ”The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened." Has a certain majesty to it, whatever political clan you come from.

Oh for a little magic to be sprinkled on politics today. Something to take us away from the dreary and the plain upsetting, a nice surprise. They can still happen. The other day, for instance, I was listening to the radio and the news came trundling along. Something about Wales. I have a lot of time for Wales. Even lived there once.

The story was about the Welsh government’s 20mph or else policy. A lot of people hated it. Half a million of them to be precise, all of whom signed a petition to say so. And what did the Welsh government do? A lovely big U-turn, that is what. Councils were told they could go back to 30mph where it was deemed necessary and safe.

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“We’ve put our hands up to say the guidance has to be corrected,” said Ken Skates, the aptly named Transport Secretary. Imagine that. The people spoke, the government listened, the policy was changed. Just like that. When was the last time the same happened in Scottish politics?

Where there have been changes to policy recently they have had to be dragged out of the Scottish Government. The deposit return scheme, gender recognition reform, marine areas protection - they have either collapsed under their own weight of inadequacy, or were told to fold by Westminster. It was not a petition that forced change. You could argue public opinion made itself felt via the parliament and interested parties, but it was not a direct or speedy process, and it left a bad feeling.

A few years into the Scottish Parliament I visited the Welsh parliament for a piece comparing devolution in the two nations. Impressive as the new Senedd was, it was tempting to see Wales as a junior player in the devolution game. Everything seemed smaller, less ambitious, compared to Scotland. We had lots of ideas, couldn’t wait to get going on those devolved areas. The Welsh, meanwhile, seemed more cautious. They were like the Scottish Government of today, dragging their feet.

It has been the same pattern throughout devolution, Scotland up and at ‘em, Wales hanging back. The difference in attitudes was clear in the key votes of the time. In the 1979 referendums on devolution, Scotland voted 52-48 for a parliament, the Welsh voted 80-20 against an assembly. Fast forward to 1997 and Scotland was a mighty 74-26 in favour, with Wales squeaking in with 50-49, a majority of just 6721.

Even all these years, when the parliaments are in with the bricks, the same differences emerge. In a YouGov poll in 2021, Welsh voters were asked if Wales should abolish the Senedd. Some 28% said yes, 45% no, with “would not vote” and “don’t know” 10% and 17% respectively.

Asked the same question about the Scottish Parliament, the no vote was 66%. Not quite the overwhelming show of support as seen in headier days, but still a significant thumbs-up.

Would the results be similar if the same poll was carried out tomorrow? Would Scots still be vastly more in favour of their parliament than the Welsh, and why?

Looking back at the last couple of years in Scottish politics you do wonder whether Scotland’s faith in its parliament, its government and devolution in general, has been repaid. It seems like the electorate has had one set of priorities, and the political establishment another. Voters wanted better healthcare, better education, better lots of things. In food terms, the plain bread and butter of politics. Instead they were served overly complex and costly confections they could not remember asking for in the first place.

In the face of failure it is tempting to think we should lower our expectations, make our politics more transactional, not believe so much in the power of a parliament to change lives. In short, be more like Wales.

Your average Welsh voter would probably laugh at the notion they are better off and therefore an example to follow. Have you seen their waiting stats? (In February 2023, 29% of people in Wales were waiting for treatment. In Scotland it was 25% and in England 21%. Figures: ONS).

There is nothing wrong with having ambition. It is when politics fails to deliver consistently and at several levels that makes people think no one is listening. Scotland still has faith in its parliament, but it should never be taken for granted.