Devolution is a dangerous game to play. You can never be sure where nationalist sentiment ends and separatist sentiment takes over.

The words are those of Tony Blair, the Labour Prime Minister who, despite his self-confessed status as “never a passionate devolutionist”, introduced bills for referenda on Scottish and Welsh devolution on May 16, 1997, during the remarkable first one hundred days of New Labour’s reign.

Blair supported the United Kingdom and distrusted nationalism but nevertheless recognised the inevitable need for devolution: English MPs, after all, dominated the Westminster parliament. And just as the nation state was having to work with others in pushing power upwards in multinational organisations, such as the EU, to meet global challenges, Blair said, so there was inexorable pressure “to devote power downwards to where people felt greater connection”.

The political landscape has changed greatly in the 25 years since the Scottish Parliament met for the first time at the General Assembly. After all, it was only a decade ago that Scotland, under a vigorous and assertive SNP administration, came close to seceding from the United Kingdom.

And while the Scottish Parliament at the foot of the Royal Mile is not exactly beloved of every last Scot, whether nationalist or unionist, it has proved Blair’s instinct correct: we do now feel a much greater connection to power and to those who exercise it. Our votes can actually mean something and can bring about change. Accountability has become a meaningful concept; our scrutiny of those who wield power over us is considerable.

How often have we been able to say that about the Mother of Parliaments, some 400 miles away?

Yes, there have been party-political failures in Scotland, just as there have been in England. You could study the Conservatives’ long reign at Westminster and ask, what have they really done for the country, apart from taking us out of Europe? Is Britain really better-off now than it was in 2010, when David Cameron replaced Gordon Brown at No10?

Holyrood has led to distinct problems. It has drained power from increasingly hard-pressed local authorities, and has been far too centralising. The committee system could do with being beefed up so that ministers are challenged more robustly than they are at present. Questions persist as to the overall quality of our MSPs.

The SNP’s record in many areas leaves much to be desired: the ferries, educational standards, hospital waiting-lists, drugs deaths, aspects of public transport, to name but a few. Many feel its determination to keep the independence dream alive has distracted it from everyday issues, while the coalition with the Greens, now ended, resulted in what some critics have derisively mocked as ‘student politics’. But while it is inarguable that the SNP has often made a rod for its own back, it is equally true that much of the criticism of Holyrood has been over the top, and ill-informed. Failures by the governing party cannot be allowed to tarnish the value of having a parliament on our own doorstep.

Yes, taxes are higher here, for most workers, but that’s democracy – if voters don’t like that, they can remove the SNP. The outcome of the general election might be an interesting forerunner of the next Holyrood election in 2026.

On the plus side the Scottish Parliament has, amongst other things, been a bulwark against the Westminster Tories’ worst instincts. Child poverty payments introduced by the SNP have helped many families. More recently, the SNP was right to reject Rishi Sunak’s “heartless” proposals to reform the welfare system to end the sick-note culture.

All told, despite its flaws, the Scottish parliament has been good for Scotland, even with its limited powers. Who knows what damage might have been inflicted on Scotland during 14 long years of unfettered Conservative power?

It is worth bearing in mind that devolution is a process, not a destination; it isn't a stepping-stone to independence nor is it set in stone.

It will change and develop – and The Herald welcomes that.