THERE is a tendency amongst politicians of every stripe to claim that “this year’s election is the most important for a generation” or that it will “determine the future of our country for the next fifty years”.

All such claims are, of course, exaggerations. It is usually only in retrospect that we can definitively state that certain elections were historical watersheds that marked a distinct change of political direction or public mood.

Today’s election, I would argue, should not be about the next fifty years or any grand schemes. It should, very specifically, be about the next five years; how we finally defeat Covid and recover from the damage it has done to our society. There has to be a laser focus on rebuilding our economy and keeping people in jobs. The health service must be supported to catch up with all those operations, tests and treatments that have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the pandemic. The education of our children has been severely disrupted for well over a year. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that this generation of school students do not suffer a lifetime of disadvantage as a result.

Only Anas Sarwar and the Scottish Labour Party have placed those priorities at the heart of their manifesto and the core of their campaign. Nicola Sturgeon, on the other hand, has generously conceded that she would spare the first 100 days, if re-elected, for such matters before returning to endless discussions of referendums and fomenting constitutional uncertainty. We are unlikely to be fully recovered from Covid in the next hundred weeks let alone days.

The opportunity to actually speak to voters face-to-face during this election has been severely limited. That said, those I have spoken to over the past couple of weeks have been fairly consistent in what they view as the priorities for the next Scottish government: recovery, recovery and recovery.

The Scottish Parliament has a budget of billions and a wide range of legislative powers. Education and the health service, for example, are entirely devolved. We need to elect a Scottish government that uses those powers constructively and distributes those financial resources effectively to play its part in ensuring a speedy and secure recovery.

We also need a Scottish government that respects and properly funds local government. Councils have a pivotal role to play and, yes, our community centres, pitches, museums and libraries re-opening fully are a vital part of our communities getting back to normal. Support for advice centres, heating allowances for the elderly, garden maintenance for the infirm, fortnightly bin uplifts, the upkeep of parks and road repairs have all been slashed or cut as a direct result of SNP government cuts. Covid has impacted the lives of every single one of us over the past year or so.

It will be at least the autumn before many of the domestic restrictions are lifted but we cannot relax until the pandemic is controlled across the globe, not just in Scotland or the UK.

When you enter the polling station today think about the job in hand, not vague promises of jam tomorrow. Think about the thousands of Scottish workers still on furlough who desperately need jobs to go back to.

Whether you are Yes or No, Leave or Remain, only Scottish Labour can set aside the divisions of the past and concentrate on what we all know needs to be done.

Glasgow and Scotland deserve better.