“Shock” and “bewilderment” was how Tory leader Jackson Carlaw described the atmosphere at Holyrood as MSPs woke up to the news that Derek Mackay had bombarded a 16-year-old schoolboy with 270 online messages.
That air of disbelief was evident in the Garden Lobby, corridors and offices as opposition politicians said more action needed to be taken against the former Finance Secretary.
Many pointed out that his former colleague Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark Macdonald had been suspended from the SNP two years ago following claims of inappropriate and unwanted behaviour against women.
Politicians and researchers drank their morning coffee and speculated on what Nicola Sturgeon will say when she gives a statement on the matter later.
Colossal lapse of judgment
The creepy and distasteful nature of Mr Mackay’s online conversations with the schoolboy were discussed as they pored over copies of The Sun.
Sky News had set up in the Garden Lobby and grabbed Mr Carlaw, who described Mr Mackay’s behaviour as a “colossal lapse of judgment” and suggested Ms Sturgeon needed to do more.
“I don’t think if she believes that simply accepting his resignation from government is an end to the matter,” the Tory leader told Sky News.
“I think there are huge questions to be asked. Parents will be concerned and I think many colleagues in the parliament will wonder how on earth Mr Mackay can continue to enjoy the confidence of his constituents or parliament. It is a huge blow to politics in Scotland.”
Mr Carlaw went on to make the comparison with Mr Macdonald.
“We had a similar incident involving another Scottish Government minister a couple of years ago, the first minister immediately then suspended the individual from the Scottish National Party, he now sits as an independent member,” Mr Carlaw said.
“Having set that bar, if the first minister thinks however illustrious Mr Mackay was at the Scottish Government that there can be different standards set now and that she can simply accept his resignation from government I don’t think that will be regarded by many as appropriate and effective action.
“Parliament has a responsibility to set the tone and protect the reputation of politics in Scotland.”
Mr Carlaw added that he thought Ms Sturgeon would realise that “more needed to be said and done” when she makes her statement.