Merry Christ­mas and a happy New Year

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reformer View -

As the fes­tive break ap­proaches it is nat­u­ral to look back at the year passed, and for­ward to the one just around the cor­ner.

This is al­ways quite eye­open­ing in the po­lit­i­cal world; the old adage is that a week is a long time in pol­i­tics. In 2014, a year has been a lifetime.

The big event of 2014, and ar­guably the big­gest po­lit­i­cal event in Scot­tish his­tory, was the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, which saw Scot­land vote to stay in the UK by a mar­gin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

The ref­er­en­dum was the big­gest cam­paign in Scot­land’s his­tory and the peo­ple of Scot­land were hugely en­gaged on the is­sues – whether it was the fu­ture of Scot­land’s cur­rency, the tied bonds of the Labour move­ment across the UK or sim­ply what we thought was best for our fam­i­lies, ev­ery per­son in Scot­land voted for what they thought what was best for Scot­land.

The chal­lenge now for all po­lit­i­cal par­ties is to har­ness that en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm, and use it to build a bet­ter na­tion. The work to cre­ate that bet­ter Scot­land for our chil­dren be­gan on Septem­ber 18.

The af­ter­math of the ref­er­en­dum brought about the Smith Com­mis­sion agree­ment which will turn Holy­rood into a pow­er­house par­lia­ment with in­creased pow­ers of tax and wel­fare, to sit along­side pow­ers over ed­u­ca­tion, health, jus­tice, trans­port, and hous­ing. Scot­land will have all the pow­ers needed to pro­tect our vul­ner­a­ble and grow our econ­omy.

And we must re­mem­ber that politi­cians can do it, they merely need the po­lit­i­cal will to make de­ci­sions that will help peo­ple.

That is why this year I pro­posed a range of mea­sures to make peo­ples lives bet­ter. I pro­posed ex­tend­ing the liv­ing wage to more low paid jobs, a ban in rip off rent rises to pro­tect hard pressed ten­ants from ex­ploita­tive rent hikes from bad land­lords, and I pro­posed halt­ing the Sco­tRail fran­chise to al­low for a non-profit bid, mean­ing our trains could be run for the pub­lic, not prof­its.

On ev­ery one of th­ese is­sues I faced op­po­si­tion from the SNP, but th­ese is­sues are not go­ing away. In 2015 th­ese is­sues – the cost of liv­ing, bet­ter jobs and bet­ter pub­lic ser­vices will be at the fore­front of the 2015 Gen­eral Elec­tion.

In Septem­ber Scot­land de­cided the fu­ture of the UK. In May we can do it again. In May Scot­land can de­cide if David Cameron gets another five years in Num­ber 10, or a Labour gov­ern­ment which will freeze en­ergy prices be­fore re­form­ing our bro­ken mar­ket, tax bankers bonuses to fund our NHS, de­liver a jobs guar­an­tee for our young peo­ple and raise the min­i­mum wage.

Scot­land is now one of, if not the most po­lit­i­cally en­gaged coun­tries on Earth. In May we can take the steps to a fairer, bet­ter na­tion with a UK Labour Gov­ern­ment. But be­fore that comes the fes­tive break, and I would like to wish all Re­former read­ers a Merry Christ­mas and a happy and safe New Year.

Fes­tive spirit James Kelly MSP (right) with Tom Greatrex MP and Ruther­glen Ex­change shop­ping cen­tre man­ager Jane Cowan

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