Last month marked three years since I was elected as an MSP representing Mid-Scotland and Fife, so this is a good opportunity to reflect on the issues that have come before me as a representative of constituents in the Stirling region.
In 2016, my first article for this paper emphasised the need for a strong Scottish Conservative and Unionist voice in the Scottish Parliament to effectively hold the SNP Scottish Government to account and to resist calls for another damaging independence referendum.
We have seen just last week the importance of this strong opposition voice at Holyrood as Nicola Sturgeon launched yet another attempt to force a divisive referendum on independence.
Stirling voted overwhelmingly to remain in the United Kingdom in 2014 and, as part of Ruth Davidson’s Shadow Cabinet team, I have been at the forefront of opposition to the SNP’s obsession with independence.
I will continue to do all I can to ensure that the focus of this SNP Government is back on the issues which really matter to the people of Stirling and beyond, our schools, our hospitals and our economy. I will resist any attempt to force another referendum on the people of Stirling.
However simply opposing independence is not enough to convince the people of Scotland that the Scottish Conservatives are ready for government.
That is why I have been using my 25 years of business experience to engage with the business community across Stirling and Scotland to formulate a ‘New Economic Model’ which can return Scotland to economic growth.
Only with a stronger Scottish economy can we finance the increase in public spending that can make a real positive difference to the vital public services we all cherish.
I announced this ‘New Economic Model’ last month and the aim is to restore Scotland’s economic growth to above 2% - and, in doing so, generate over a billion pounds more funding for public services. I will be announcing further policies in the months ahead that will make sure we deliver higher-paid jobs, quality apprenticeships and training opportunities across Scotland.
Local issues however have been the day-to-day focus of my work at Holyrood. I have spent every week meeting local residents and campaigning on the issues which matter to them.
Stirling, and the surrounding towns and villages, are incredible places and I remain determined as one of your representatives to make it an even better place for people who live and work in the area.
That is why I have been a strong local champion for local social enterprise initiatives such as Forth Valley Social Enterprise, backed large and small local traders through my ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign, campaigned for better connectivity and broadband services in the region, supported the campaign to trunk the A811, launched a successful petition to address poor connectivity in Crianlarich, pressed Transport Scotland for a solution to the dangerous junction at Blair Drummond Safari Park and championed the views of high-street traders through the ‘Stirling Business Summits’.
I am hosting another business summit in September so please do come along if you want to be involved in discussions on how we can further improve our High Streets across the Stirling region.
I also hold regular surgeries across the Stirling region to assist constituents who need help. My next surgeries will be on the 14th (Albert Halls, Stirling), 21st June (Albert Halls Stirling and Muir Hall, Doune). I would be delighted to meet you if there are any issues that I can help you with.
I remain incredibly honoured to serve the interests of the people in the Stirling region and I have high ambitions for what we can achieve together in the years ahead.
This article was originally published on 5th and 7th June 2019 in the Stirling Observer.