THIS month marks 25 years since the Scottish Parliament opened its doors and held its inaugural meeting.

Much has changed in that time – not least the parliamentary building and the party which is in government, though John Swinney, the new First Minister, was among that first intake of MSPs.

However, the principles which underpinned the new parliament remain important.

Scotland is a nation within a union of nations, but devolution is a vital mechanism in decentralising power and accountability.

Bar the Conservatives, the only major party against devolution in 1997, there has long been consensus that bringing decision making processes closer to citizens is a good thing.

This quarter-century mark is an opportunity to draw a balance sheet and assess what has been accomplished.

Scottish Labour, alongside a Labour government at Westminster, delivered the new parliament and served as the leading party in administrations over its first eight years.

We’re proud of what we achieved: the fastest drop in child poverty anywhere in Britain; the abolition of tuition fees; free personal care free nursery places; land reform and community right to buy; free eye and dental checks; free bus travel for over 60s; Freedom of Information, and sustained investment in public services to name but a few.

These changes were delivered through consultation and collaboration with campaigners, community groups and trade unions.

There’s no doubt mistakes will have been made along the way and no administration is perfect, but progress was made on key metrics.

Since then, though, we’ve had 17 years of the SNP in power.

To be blunt: not a single institution is in a better state now than in 2007.

The NHS faces extraordinary pressures and A&E waiting times in hospitals are at a record high.

The number of children in relative poverty has steadily risen since the turn of the 2010s.

Scotland’s world famous education system has gone downhill, with severe declines in maths, science and reading levels recorded in schools.

A housing emergency has been declared, with waiting lists stretched and rents spiralling.

Prisons are overcrowded, with buildings in a state of disrepair and many prisoners being considered for early release to ease the load.

And key climate targets have been scrapped, with few green jobs created and no meaningful industrial strategy put in place.

Inevitably, many in government pass the buck to Westminster. In some ways, they have justification: the Tories have decimated services and budgets up and down the country in the name of austerity, an economically illiterate policy which has immiserated millions.

However, that doesn’t absolve the SNP. I campaigned for devolution and continue to fight for more powers, but I believe parliament could have achieved much more in its first 25 years and been far more radical – its potential has been wasted.

It’s time to return to the visions of John Smith, Donald Dewar and many others, and build a parliament which works tirelessly in citizens’ interests.

I believe it’s time for Labour governments at Holyrood and Westminster which will deliver that.