Week one of Anas’ staycation
This past week has been the start of my own staycation tour of Scotland – a chance to get out of the Parliament and listen to the issues that are at the front of people’s minds.
It is also a great excuse to see so many different parts of our beautiful country and to get on the road and meet people, which is something I’ve truly missed during the pandemic.
This week I’ve journeyed across the south of Scotland – and heard in their own words what people want from their Government and from the Scottish Labour Party.
In every community, I heard the same fears for the future and worries that our recovery from the pandemic is faltering before it has even begun.
But local issues, that have been ignored for too long by the SNP, are also causing concern.
In Dumfries, I saw how communities are stepping in where Holyrood has failed, rejuvenating their own high street and rebuilding communities stretched to breaking point by austerity and the pandemic. Connectivity was the biggest issue in Stranraer, where a failure to invest properly in local motorways and the crippling effect of the botched Northern Ireland Brexit protocol is throttling the economic recovery.
I met with the farmers who put the food on our table, about how a lack of economic support leaves them struggling to keep food on their own.
In Largs, I heard up close about the failures facing coastal communities – who depend on tourism and our ageing ferry system for their livelihoods.
But across Scotland, I’ve seen people pull together to come up with inventive solutions to the problems they face, in Ayr I saw new social housing and initiatives to tackle poverty and climate change.
One thing has been clear wherever I’ve gone, these problems aren’t beyond our ability to resolve.
And often the solutions are simple enough, you just need to ask the people most closely involved in living with the problem.
But that is the thing that the Scottish Government is failing to do – across Scotland, our communities could be so much better, so much stronger if we listened to one another and pulled together to find solutions.
That is the alternative vision for politics that our party can offer the country, the alternative politics that can win hearts and minds from the Borders to Shetland.
That is the alternative that we are building together.