Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
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