SO, it’s the “dream team” at the helm of the SNP with the punters’ favourite Kate Forbes installed as deputy beside John “safe pair of hands” Swinney.

There’s no change in the Cabinet except for the inclusion of Forbes, which has left the opposition carping about a “continuity Cabinet”.

Of course, the absence of new faces could equally mean policy not personality will drive the next government.

Which would be fine. But since there’s been no leadership contest, debate, or Scottish election – what policy direction will the new government take?

READ MORE: The small but potentially crucial changes in John Swinney's Scottish Cabinet

Leaving important issues of human rights and gender identity aside for a moment, both Swinney and Forbes have supported policy on the “left” and “right” with Forbes attracting the support of Robin McAlpine from left-leaning think tank Common Weal.

And despite her criticism of the Scottish Greens, the new Economy Secretary talks readily about the need to invest in the Green Transition.

So, what’s it to be?

Green or fossil-coloured brown? Left or right? Higher personal taxes (which annoys business) or a “business” agenda?

A Rishi-style pick ‘n’ mix of unrelated proposals designed to appease warring factions?

A “let’s please everyone” eye-catching confetti of assorted “changes” which vanish in the first economic storm?

A general “change” message may sound good, win votes, and satisfy a definite itch amongst voters and the media.

But very soon generalisations about the direction of change must get specific.

After all, the cursed Liz Truss was change personified – destroying living standards and Britain’s economic credibility in the process.

Both Fergus Ewing and Patrick Harvie support “change” – from radically different perspectives.

The National: John Swinney stands with the Seals of Scotland as he is sworn inJohn Swinney was sworn in as the new First Minister of Scotland

So, what kind of change is Swinney after? We know he aims to “eradicate child poverty, drive economic growth, meet climate obligations, invest in our vital public services and … reach out to those who remain unconvinced about Scottish independence”.

But can he eradicate child poverty while Westminster controls so many economic levers or will that pledge become as difficult to fulfil as Nicola Sturgeon’s determination to close the educational attainment gap?

You’d imagine a long-standing finance secretary who helped embed the Scottish Social Security system will have done the maths.

It’s also a clever choice of priority – which opposition party can possibly oppose it? Not even the Tories.

And yet, is that affordable without deep cuts elsewhere – and is it bold enough to help the SNP reach dry land in the General Election and beyond?

It’s still possible – probable according to some polls – that the party will lose Westminster seats and perhaps even control of the Scottish Parliament in 2026.

Despite an unbelievably smooth velvet revolution at the helm of the SNP this week, things aren’t great. And time is of the essence.

Labour fell from power in 2007 because it lost its change credentials.

The party looked entitled and sluggish – unwilling to tackle stuck problems or problematic structures and not nearly bold enough to create a progressive, modern, and confident Scotland.

Polling suggests some voters feel the same about the SNP – including some independence supporters. How can the SNP avoid Labour’s fate?

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Well, they must avoid the temptation to do glitzy window-dressing and devise an agenda that’s bold, progressive … and surprising.

There needs to be sense, argument, direction and a well-communicated bold strategy. Of course.

But there also has to be surprise that a minority government will dare to tackle thorny issues other governments – every other Scottish government in 25 years – has left behind.

This will be difficult for Swinney.

But despite the media clamour for “safe” economic policies and a “temporary” (aye right) pausing of the case for independence – choosing safety would be a colossal mistake.

Let’s take indy first. The state of the movement in 2024 reminds me of 2017 when Sturgeon decided to “take independence off the table” at the Scottish Parliamentary elections and totally scunnered SNP members.

I remember hearing reports of “indy-free” leaflets arriving from HQ and being binned by angry activists.

We can’t go back to a slightly embarrassed mention of indy as an afterthought, especially not after Humza Yousaf’s “first activist” pledge and his assertion that the first line of the SNP manifesto would state that a “vote for the SNP is a vote for independence”.

That’s the very minimum needed to keep jaded Yessers on board.

Agreed, it’s not too clear where else independence supporters can take their votes, with the Greens bringing down an SNP first minister and Alba’s Ash Regan joining forces with Unionist parties in a vote of no confidence against his government. But Swinney can’t take Yes support for granted.

There’s still the 2017 danger that disillusioned activists just stay at home. What might encourage everyone is a serious platform of long overdue change.

Bold progressive measures that surprise critics, seize the agenda (much as Alex Salmond did back in the day) reassure those who doubt Swinney’s energy, call the bluff of opposition parties who’ve long complained about broken systems without producing workable alternatives, and use the Scottish Government’s newly acquired internal stability to do what previous leaders could/would not.

And that means listening to folk beyond the Holyrood opposition parties and the all-powerful consultant class.

After all, it wasn’t KPMG that proposed the Scottish Child Payment (SCP), which has become the SNP’s most cited and effective change credential.

A coalition of all the poverty charities in Scotland managed to reach and persuade Sturgeon. Last year Professor Danny Dorling said the SCP has made the biggest single change to child poverty anywhere in Europe over the last 40 years.

An impressive achievement that did NOT come from the SNP, accountants or the consultancy classes. Ditto minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which has produced a 13% reduction in alcohol-related deaths, according to The Lancet.

That policy was the brainchild of the late Evelyn Gillan, formerly director of Alcohol Focus and one of the few people able to penetrate the shield of minders around Sturgeon.

The National: First Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister John Swinney with the CabinetJohn Swinney with his appointed Cabinet of Ministers

The move triggered attacks by the powerful alcohol lobby, prompting five years of legal battles at the Court of Session, the European Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court – all of which the Scottish Government won – against the expectations of most sage professionals.

It’s time to do that again.

Restore the SNP’s change credentials and surprise everyone by getting off the back foot with long overdue reforms – like abolishing the Council Tax and replacing it (even partly) with a form of land tax.

Like pausing the current ineffectual Land Reform Act and pushing ahead with a Succession Act so children can join the rest of humanity and equally inherit land or a Compulsory Sales Order that lets councils order the sale of derelict land without taking it onto their own books – long promised and very useful now.

Similarly, it’s one thing to have the strongest inward investment track record in Britain, but it means our key economic assets from airports to hydro dams are mostly owned by foreign private companies.

Common Weal amongst others have a lot of ideas for growing our own small and medium-scale Scottish companies.

Will Forbes take their thinking on board? Her decision not to stand clearly disappointed many, but though she is not in charge, she is in power.

There will be no policy debate thanks to Swinney’s unopposed victory, so it’s vital that the SNP organises a truly open autumn conference about ideas without silencing dissent, bypassing popular resolutions, or pricing volunteer indy groups out of attendance.

Swinney has a lot of people to please and mouths to feed.

But “doing away” won’t work.

Surprise us, John.