Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with a range of local businesses, community groups and constituents. In doing so I’m always struck by and reminded of the energy and vitality of the many communities that make up the Renfrewshire South Constituency, that I’m proud to represent as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. 

In Johnstone last week I had a meeting with Active Communities to discuss how I can support their plans to transform the old police station into a dynamic community hub. In Lochwinnoch I met with Morag Thow to discusses issues relating to both the local arts festival and the Dementia Friendly Village Project. I also presented a parliamentary motion to Howwood Emergency Amateur Rescue for their selfless work and inspiring community spirit. In Linwood I had the honour of attending the unveiling of a memorial stone on the 100th anniversary of the death of Private Hugh McIver VC.

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I was also pleased to have the opportunity to spend a morning working with the excellent Foodtrain, who provide a much-valued service for many older people across Renfrewshire and beyond. I’ve also been busy in the other side of the constituency and I look forward to updating readers in the Gazette’s sister newspaper, the Barrhead News.

This week the Scottish Parliament reconvenes for the start of what promises to be another busy parliamentary year. While the past 12 months at Holyrood have been against a backdrop of darkening political skies in both the UK and abroad, the Scottish Government has been focussed on getting on with the job of delivering for Scotland. 

From making Scotland’s tax system fairer to record investment in our NHS, the past year has shown a Government committed to taking Scotland forward. 

The Gazette:

Over the coming weeks and months, Holyrood will debate and vote on new laws across a range of areas including planning, health and social care and the management of offenders. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss these or any other issues.

It is unlikely to have escaped the attention of many that a strand of politics has become nastier and more intolerant in recent years. Social media, a platform offering huge opportunities for politicians and the public to connect, is often hijacked by individuals and groups who hurl abuse and threats at those who dare have different political views. More concerning is the erosion of shared understanding of basic concepts such as truth and facts, which can make reasonable political debate impossible.

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Delivering a eulogy to Senator John McCain last week, former US President Barack Obama stated: “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, can seem small, mean and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult and phoney controversies, and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born of fear.” 

The Gazette:

Former US President Barack Obama has some words we can all adhere to

These are words that will resonate with any observer of Scottish politics. As we begin a new parliamentary year, I hope all politicians will resolve to return to the reasonable, fair and balanced approach to politics that the people of Scotland rightly expect.