But Alex Salmond, SNP leader and first minister, has warned of battles ahead with Westminster over the level of funding Scotland receives.
The party has moved rapidly to implement a series of popular election pledges, such as ending tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges, cancelling the closure of hospital A&Es and abolishing endowment fees for graduating students – Scotland’s version of tuition fees.
However, Mr Salmond has claimed Scotland has been short-changed in the Treasury’s recent comprehensive spending review and warned the settlement posed a threat to his public spending plans.
Spending by the devolved administration is set to grow by an average of 1.8 per cent in real terms over the next three years, reaching almost £30bn ($61.4bn) by 2010, according to the spending review.
But Mr Salmond said the Treasury had lopped £342m ($700.9m) off the £26bn ($53.2bn) expenditure baseline from which the increases were calculated, meaning Scotland would receive an average real term increase of only 1.4 per cent over the next three years – and a mere 0.5 per cent in the first year.
Scotland already offers free personal care to the elderly and the SNP is committed to widening further the gulf between Scotland and the rest of the UK by abolishing all National Health Service prescription charges.
This means the minority SNP government – which ousted the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition that controlled the first two four-year terms of the Holyrood parliament – faces tough budget choices.
Well, yes and no. If Mr Salmond believes that the measures that he wants to implement are really that important, then he has another choice.
The Scotland Executive does have limited tax raising powers; you might remember that there were threats of enacting a "Tartan Tax" at one point. If Wee 'Eck really wants to implement his budget promises, he could simply add another penny to income tax.
It seems that Wendy Alexander may be starting to get the message.
Wendy Alexander yesterday called for a Scottish Constitutional Commission to draw up plans over the next year for the Barnett funding formula to be replaced.
The controversial 29-year-old system for the Treasury granting money to Scotland would be replaced by significant new powers for Scotland to set levels for some taxes and to be assigned a share of other taxes set in London. There would be a smaller block grant based on a new assessment of need.
The Scottish Labour leader suggested welfare and road traffic law could be among more powers to be devolved.
This may, in fact, be a way of defusing the current funding row, as David Farrer notes.
I believe that English opinion will force financial autonomy on us whether we want it or not. We may as well get used to it.
Quite so. Further, a "block grant based on a new assessment of need" to Scotland will enable both England and Scotland to better assess how much we subsidise our cousins north of the border. It would certainly stop people writing bollocks like this.
Still, the SNP will continue to moan about the North Sea oil and I am tempted to say that we should just allow Scotland total autonomy, including over oil revenues (which are far less valuable than they were). Here is a map of the main oil field locations and how they would be divided between Scotland and England under international maritime treaty guidelines.
This map was made by Robert Sharp and is the culmination of a discussion between the two of us over the oil fields' ownership some 18 months ago (the red line is my somewhat simplistic—for which read "probably wrong"—attempt at a border divide). The Viking Field off the coast of England is, in fact, natural gas and not oil.
Fiscal autonomy would, of course, mean that Scotland was pretty damn close to being an independent country; but maybe Great Britain should be heading towards a federal arrangement anyway...