MANY will be glad to see the back of 2020. It holds painful memories for so many.

For those who’ve lost loved ones before their time because of Covid-19.

For those who’ve been unable to see family and friends since March.

Then there’s the staggering number of people who’ve lost their livelihoods due to lockdown in 2020.

If we had the benefit of hindsight, we would surely have handled this pandemic differently. The coronavirus could and should have been treated with greater urgency and action from the beginning of the year. Preparations for personal protective equipment, test, trace and tracking should have been in place much earlier.

That said, many decisions looked plain wrong at the time.

Discharging frail and elderly patients into care homes without knowing if they tested positive for Covid-19 was a policy with deadly consequences. Allowing a free flow of travel in and out of the UK while other countries realised a lack of travel restrictions and isolation rules would facilitate viral super spreaders.

Even by September we were still getting it wrong. Wrong for economic reasons instead of following the science.

Encouraging students to return to university and college halls of residence had recipe for disaster written all over it, and yet our governments waved it through as universities and landlords wanted rental income. These decisions were just badly made.

Hopefully 2021 will provide light at the end of our tunnel as vaccinations are rolled out across the population.

But Covid-19 wasn’t the only story of 2020. The knock-on effect of the pandemic was to prevent life going on for many people waiting for life changing hospital operations that were cancelled or postponed.

For me, the most bewildering feature of this year has been our political priorities during the pandemic.

At Westminster we plodded on with the madness and ineptitude of Brexit; in Scotland our political agenda was dominated by politics around gender identity recognition and hate crime legislation.

What happened to our social justice initiatives to prevent needless deaths, human misery and poverty? Are too many of our politicians living in out-of-touch reality bubbles?

Politics is about priorities and last week the 2019 national statistics for drug deaths in Scotland were published. 1,264 people died; the worst rate in Europe and more than double the Scottish death rate from 2014. Two-thirds of those who died were aged 35 to 54.

Some Scottish MPs and MSPs tried to blame our drug death rate on the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act because it’s reserved to Westminster. The lie in that argument was met with the fact our drug death rate is three and half times that of England and Wales.

The truth was drug addicts in Scotland had been neglected for well over a decade; with funding for rehabilitation and harm reduction support cut year on year. There were 352 rehab beds in Scotland in 2007, we now have less than 70.

Last week Joe FitzPatrick, the public health minister, had to resign but if we’re honest the Scottish Cabinet were equally responsible. For me this all comes down to a case of priorities. If you get your priorities wrong carnage will ensue.

A similar story could easily be told for young people trying to access NHS child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Scotland. Waiting for vital services can be measured in years. Most can’t wait that long. We are failing a generation.

In Glasgow, earlier this year the city council chose to slash its funding support for free advice from law centres, CABx and money advice agencies by one third to a half. It was going to be much more. Again, what kind of political priorities can anyone have if you think removing access to free help with benefits, debts and legal disputes is a good idea during a pandemic?

Other large swathes of people who have been neglected include those trapped in temporary homeless accommodation for years, and those stuck in private lets with unaffordable rents because they aren’t social tenancies available for them and they can’t secure a mortgage.

One of the lessons of 2020 for me is the failure of managerial government. Watching deaths, human misery and poverty escalate while foolishly believing you can somehow manage crises without real intervention or action. Failing to accept that it’s your own political priorities and funding cuts that are culpable.

It’s no good suggesting it would all be different under an independent Scotland if you can’t use the devolved powers you already have. It’s about having the political leadership and will to make a difference.

We need to make a difference now.

Having to wait for many Scots is literally the difference between life and death. We have the opportunity to get this right in 2021.