30 Dec 2011

At this time of year we tend to look back at the last 12 months and forward to the next year. 2011 has been an amazing year for myself personally and for the SNP. Now I just look forward to seeing what 2012 can have in store.

A year ago I had no paid job and was doing voluntary work at Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau and Glasgow City Mission. Labour were ahead in the polls for the Holyrood elections. I was the SNP’s candidate for the Glasgow Shettleston constituency and our small band of activists were faithfully campaigning away. However, friends and family were pretty well unanimous in saying I had little chance of being elected and should have put my name on the Glasgow list to be a regional MSP.

Then came May and a remarkable result for the SNP nationally and of course in our local constituency. One of the largest swings to the SNP in a previously Labour-held seat was here in Glasgow Shettleston. I am extremely grateful to the voters of the constituency and all those who helped in the campaign.

Over the eight months since the election there has been a lot of adjusting for myself personally. Having been used to being in a small minority in Glasgow City Council and then at Westminster, it has been strange being in the same party as a majority government!

The constituency office at 1335 Gallowgate is up and running and I am grateful to Anne and David for all their work in this. We hope to recruit a third member of staff fairly soon.

So what does 2012 have in store? Firstly it takes us another year closer to freedom for Scotland! I am not predicting what year Scotland will break out of the United Kingdom. But whenever it comes, we are now closer than we were a year ago.

It looks like there will be tough times ahead with most western economies struggling under a heavy debt burden and making severe cuts in public expenditure. The fear is that it is those with least who will suffer most.

Apart from seeing Scotland free, my main hope in 2012 would be to see a narrower gap between the rich and the poor in our society. For years now we have seen that gap get wider and wider – no matter which party has been in power at Westminster. Narrowing that gap would both help poorer folk and create a more stable society with less chance of tensions building up.

Looking further ahead, we have the 2014 Commonwealth Games to prepare for and we should be seeing several buildings nearing completion in 2012. As far as I am concerned the London Olympics are of less significance compared to our games in 2014 – not least because Scotland is not allowed to compete in the Olympics.

It is perhaps my nature to be optimistic about the future and to believe there will certainly be good things to outweigh the difficulties. And that is my hope and belief for all reading this. 2012 can be a great year for yourself and for Scotland. So may I wish each and every one reading this message a very happy New Year and I look forward to being in contact with many of you in the days ahead.