This month marks 25 years since the Scottish Parliament was established.

The first election took place on 6 May 1999, and just six days later, rather poignantly on the fifth anniversary of the late Labour leader John Smith’s untimely passing, the new Parliament met at its temporary home, the Assembly Hall on the Mound, for the first time.

I vividly remember the procession going up the Royal Mile to mark the official opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999 as I watched it on television from my hospital bed in Yorkhill.

Even though I was just 10 at the time, a child of devolution, I could sense that it was a significant moment in our nation’s history – high hopes abounded for this new voice in the land, emboldened with the mandate of three-quarters of Scots who voted in the 1997 referendum.

I am proud that the last Labour government delivered devolution for Scotland, and I am proud of what Labour achieved while in government in Holyrood: free bus travel for the over 60s, free nursery places, the smoking ban and unprecedented investment in our NHS with nearly 700 extra doctors and more than 5000 extra nurses, to name but a few achievements.

Reflecting on a quarter century of devolution, it is clear to me that the Scottish Parliament has now cemented itself as the primary seat of political power in the collective consciousness of Scotland’s people.

Looking to the next quarter century and beyond, the Parliament must continue to evolve to meet its much larger workload and to more effectively hold government ministers to account.

The committee system would benefit from the introduction of elected committee chairs as well as devolving more power out of Edinburgh so that it is as close to the people as possible. It is all well and good devolving power from London to Edinburgh, but we must devolve power into the varied regions of Scotland to truly unlock the nation’s potential.

Since 1999, health and social care has been by far the most important responsibility of the Scottish Parliament – to this day, it remains the Scottish Government portfolio with the largest budget. However, the last 17 years of SNP administration have not been good for the NHS.

A staggering 820,000 Scots are languishing on an NHS waiting list, the worst record ever.

10,000 Scots are waiting for social care assessments or packages.

And just in the last few weeks, the City of Glasgow has lost more than 150 jobs in health and social care services.

The SNP tell us that they are putting record levels of funding into the NHS, but at the beginning of devolution – under a Labour administration – Scotland invested 22% more per head on health than England, today that gap has fallen to just 3%.

In Labour-run Wales, however, they continue to invest more per head on health than Scotland, despite having a more limited devolution settlement.

The SNP has been running the Scottish Government for my entire adult life and our NHS is now at breaking point due to their incompetence. Whilst the new First Minister John Swinney wants you to believe he is the fresh leadership needed to turn things around, he has been at the heart of their mismanagement since the very start. Afterall, he was the Deputy First Minister tasked with getting the NHS back on its feet following Covid but instead handed down £400 million worth of cuts to the health and social care budget.

Since it first started, the Scottish Parliament has had many policy successes and undoubtedly it has been of net benefit to Scotland, with 357 Acts of the Scottish Parliament now on the statute books, a work rate that would have never been possible in the House of Commons.

However, the SNP years in government have left the Scottish NHS in a perilous state. Time and time again they have taken their eye off the ball on the vital matter of Scotland’s health, preoccupied with their own self-indulgent constitutional Punch and Judy show.

Donald Dewar’s hope on that opening day in 1999 was that MSPs would “never lose sight of what brought us here - the striving to do right by the people of Scotland, to respect their priorities, to better their lot and to contribute to the common weal”.

Well, after 17 years of increasingly stale nationalist control, it’s high time we had a reset of Scotland’s Parliament and Government, to recapture the true spirit of that founding ideal.