YOU may have noticed the selection process that each political party is undergoing in advance of May’s Scottish Parliamentary elections. Last week, members of the Glasgow Conservative Association had the opportunity to select our suite of candidates to contest constituencies across the city. I am honoured to have been selected as a candidate for the Shettleston constituency next year, and join fellow councillors and activists as well as incumbent MSP Annie Wells in seeking to represent the people of Glasgow.

Some of you will know my story. I grew up in the Cranhill flats that will be so familiar to Shettleston residents and attended Eastbank Academy before going on to represent the community I call home on Glasgow City Council. My upbringing wasn’t easy. Both my parents suffered from addiction issues and it was because of that upbringing I got into politics to try to set an example for my younger sister and thousands of other kids who grew up like me. To show that your past doesn’t define who you are – no matter our background or the start in life we have, we only need to be afforded the opportunity to succeed and we will grasp that challenge with our whole being.

While we direct our energies towards defeating coronavirus, democracy isn’t on hold. The electorate deserves a chance next year to pass judgement on the Government’s record on its delivery of devolved services.

On education, they have completely failed to deliver on their manifesto commitments to reduce class sizes, having overseen a reduction of 3000 in teacher numbers since coming to power in 2007, on top of curtailing the opportunities of our young people by cutting college places and reducing the number of subjects available in our schools. On local government, they have slashed funding for our councils at a rate far outstripping their own budget restrictions and as a result landed local residents with annual hikes to their council tax to fund ever depleting services in our communities.

On health they have failed to keep up with increased spending in other parts of the UK, with Treasury figures showing that health spending in England increased by 17.6% between 2012-13 and 2017-18 but only by 13.1% in Scotland – that’s a £505 million shortfall for our NHS because of the decisions of SNP ministers. On justice, the Scottish Government has failed to stem the rise in violent crime – with recorded incidences of non-sexual crimes of violence increasing more than 27% between 2014-15 and 2018-19. What’s more, the SNP have consistently gotten it wrong on our civil liberties – with my party leading the charge to defeat them on their misguided Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, Named Person Scheme, not to mention their Hate Crimes Bill.

It’s no wonder that the SNP are desperate to try to distract us from the issues that matter by pushing for another referendum on independence. Their record is so indefensible that they’ve given up even bothering to try. Shettleston is an area that has been so let down by successive Labour and SNP politicians who take our community for granted, and don’t even get me started on our current MSP who has been nothing short of an embarrassment constantly getting headlines for gaffes and shameful comments.

We can do better, Shettleston. I represent a fresh start and a change from the politics of division, with a record of success in the council holding our failed nationalist administration accountable and shining a light on their scandals and neglect. My leadership of the Glasgow Tories has seen the council’s Conservative Group go from strength to strength and focusing on the issues that matter. Most importantly, I have a track record of success in my ward delivering for local people. That’s what Shettleston and Glasgow needs in the Scottish Parliament.