Jim’s already ruffling feathers Jim Murphy is setting the political agenda in Scotland. He has made it clear that a vote at the General Election for anyone but Labour increases the risk of a Tory Government. He’s also setting out the improvements that a UK Labour Government would bring. He has pledged that if Labour wins the General Election, Scottish Labour will deliver 1,000 extra nurses over and above anything the SNP pledges. And he’s certainly ruffling a few feathers with how this will be funded. Labour is promising a mansion tax on the biggest houses in the UK, owned by a tiny wealthy minority. Most of these houses are in the South East of England but because we are part of the UK, Scotland will receive its percentage share. Because there are so few of these properties in Scotland, we would raise very little by having a Scotland only tax. Jim’s plan is upsetting a few people but so what? Scottish Labour has made it clear that it will do the best for ordinary Scottish families. If that means sharing and pooling resources across the UK, then that’s fine by me. But the only way we can deliver these 1,000 extra nurses, is to make sure we have a UK Labour Government, and that’s what I will be working for over the next few months.

Laurens’s an inspiration What an inspiration young Lauren Cosgrove and just how proud must her parents feel. Lauren, who is only nine, was named Citizen of the Year for courageously battling illness with a smile on her face while helping to raise cash for others. The schoolgirl, who lives in Barrhead, has a condition called short gut syndrome, which means she can’t absorb nutrients through food. Lauren has to carry heavy medical equipment – the equivalent of 20 per cent of her body weight – in a backpack at all times to help her get the nutrients she needs. But, undeterred by her painful and life-limiting condition, she set up a charity – Lauren’s Life Lines – which has with the help of the local community -raised more than £16,000 to support other children who have short gut syndrome. The St John’s Primary pupil was named East Renfrewshire Citizen of the Year and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. Lauren’s efforts to help others are supported by Yorkhill Children’s Charity and more information is available at www.yorkhill.org/news/laurens-life-lines New Year – new beginnings I can’t wait to see the new Barrhead Foundry in full swing with people from all walks of life enjoying a huge variety of services in this modern state-of-the-art building right in the heart of the town. In the 1800s, Barrhead was home to two foundries, including Cunningham’s iron foundry and Shanks’ famous sanitary works, which included a brass foundry. The name represents Barrhead’s proud industrial past and new beginnings too. There’s a first-class library, enhanced sports facilities, digital hub, café, business centre and free Wi-Fi. Community groups and local businesses will be able to take advantage of the on-site support as well as book flexible meeting rooms for conferences, training events and loads of other activities and classes. Despite the tough economic constraints, East Renfrewshire Council has worked hard to make a real difference to the town centre. Doors are due to open on Wednesday, January 21.