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.

Last week in Neilston I was delighted to meet with J & M Murdoch & Son Ltd and discuss a wide range of issues. In Barrhead, I’ve been pleased to welcome the success of the Save Fereneze Braes campaign. I’ve also been meeting with residents in Neilston who are concerned about potential developments at Kirkton Road. 

In Barrhead, I was also pleased to meet with the Tuesday Friendship Club and present a motion from the Scottish Parliament recognising their amazing work supporting adults with additional support needs. 
There’s been positive news for Uplawmoor too, with a delay to any changes to the flightpath. I’ve been pleased to work with concerned residents and I will be replying to all who responded to my survey with an update.

Last week the Scottish Parliament reconvened for the start of what promises to be another busy parliamentary year, with the launch of the Scottish Programme for Government. While the past 12 months at Holyrood have taken place 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. 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 and 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. 

Delivering a eulogy to Senator John McCain two weeks ago, 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.” 

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.