The message was clear just over an hour ago. When the SNPs budget failed to be passed when Labour, Lib Dem and Green MSP all voted against it. The Tories had changed it by 0.171% which was not enough for either Labour or the rest. Patrick Harvie said the the £22million injection was not enough and the Nats had eroded what less than a month ago looked like the two votes that would have tipped the balance.
So what exactly went wrong. The Greens said there were too many caveats announced by Finance Minister John Swinney in his summing up of the motion. But the eleventh hour horse trading by sum was blamed on the Lib Dems using Mike Rumbles to negotiate, but when it appears that even those that looked more likely to be on board Harvie and Robin Harper of the Greens it all came down to the Presiding Officer's casting vote. Who voted as precedent dictates for the status quo.
So is this the end of the honeymoon? Must Alex Salmond stop spouting the hyperbole and actually start to work at being a minority government? He has to be able to build bridges (and I don't mean over the Forth) in order to be able to move on. But move on he must do. The message of this messy budget is that moving on was not what he was doing energetically enough.
Three parties said it wasn't enough, the Tories decided that the miniscule addition they achieved was enough once more to side with the Nats. Scotland needs a strong budget and for all but the Nationalist members that wasn't what they saw and many of the remainder had doubts. Doubts which were not assuaged by Salmond or Swinney.
It is a disaster for the First Minister to have in the past mouth had a agreement with the Greens and then to see that ripped up in his face at the eleventh hour. The budget slipped like sand through his hands quite possibly because like King Canute he refused to budge even when the waves were lapping at his throne.