Three months ago Glaswegians returned the SNP as the biggest party in the local elections, giving us the mandate to form a new city administration.

They did so on the back of our record in targeting the impacts of poverty and low incomes, of delivering record attainment in our schools and steering Glasgow through the turmoil of pandemic.

And they heard our ongoing commitment to do all in our power to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, continue to address challenges around the look and feel of our communities, and ensure Glasgow leads the way on tackling the climate emergency. 

The SNP - along with our Green colleagues - also believes the interests of Glasgow will be best served in an independent Scotland. Our manifesto made clear our determination to ensure the people of Glasgow are able to exercise their democratic right to choose Scotland’s future.

Glasgow voted Yes to independence in 2014 and all the evidence today tells us that Glaswegians overwhelmingly support Scotland’s right to choose in another referendum.

In 2021, like people from all over Scotland, Glaswegians elected MSPs to a Scottish Parliament with a decisive majority in favour of independence.

The Scottish Government has a clear and indisputable democratic mandate to hold an independence referendum, something which none of Boris Johnson’s potential successors as UK Prime Minister have any right to block, now or in the future.

As the First Minister has said repeatedly, independence in itself does not guarantee success for any country. It isn’t something that will automatically alleviate the long-standing challenges Glasgow has and continues to face. I want to ensure the role and powers of cities in a future Scotland is part of the conversation on our constitutional future, for example.

But so many of our deep-seated social and economic challenges - such as generational unemployment, poor health and low life expectancy, and high levels of vacant land - can be traced directly back to the deliberate abandonment of the city by successive UK Governments.

And time and time again Glaswegian households are hit hardest by Westminster policies and actions, be that the bedroom tax, the rape clause, benefits cap or the current Tory-created cost-of-living crisis, which is sending household bills spiralling.

Or indeed the damage to our city economy, businesses and workforce caused by the disastrous Brexit that Glasgow didn’t vote for.

All of these factors are causing real suffering to so many Glaswegian households and businesses right now, giving a real urgency to the independence debate, even more than in 2014.

Faced with the ever-growing shambles of the Westminster system, the casual cruelty of Tory policies and the contempt by Tories and Labour alike for Scotland’s democratic voice, it feels more important by the day that the people who live here should finally have control of the levers and powers we need to set Scotland’s own path.

As Nicola Sturgeon said in the Glasgow Times recently, independence is not a distraction from recovery from the pandemic, the challenges of Brexit or the demands of net-zero. It is an alternative, a means to better equipping ourselves to address those challenges and fulfil Scotland’s - and Glasgow’s - potential. We can’t do that with Westminster delivering more of the same empty promises and failed agendas.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the Tory Prime Ministerial hopefuls, offer nothing to Scotland but even harder Brexits, spending cuts and denial of Scotland’s democratic mandate.

As the UK continues to fall behind other European states, we can only look enviously at the success of independent nations the size of Scotland across the continent, which are fairer, wealthier and more successful.    

Meanwhile, in council chambers across Scotland, Anas Sarwar’s Labour would rather do shady deals with those same architects of austerity, Brexit and the sweep of cruel policies which have devastated communities for decades, than work with the SNP on our socially progressive policies.

Theirs is tribal politics of the very worst kind.

The Glasgow SNP city administration will never take our eye off our day job. But we know how different the results of that day job could be for Glasgow, with the tools to address our challenges, to reap the rewards of our assets and successes and take our rightful place as the social, economic and cultural beating heart of a modern, European, independent nation.

That’s the opportunity for Glasgow in an independent Scotland.

Glasgow gift cards

Glasgow Times:

From the middle of next month, households across Glasgow will begin receiving gift cards worth £105 as part of our efforts to address the cost-of-living crisis and help businesses and communities recover from the pandemic.

In all, we’ll be sending out around 85,000 cards and if you’re one of the eligible households, you should have already or will very soon receive an initial letter with your unique personal activation code for your card.

Make sure you keep this letter – you’ll need the code to use your card when it arrives and the code provides security so no one else can use it.

This will be the biggest gift card scheme ever to have been organised in the UK and is already more than double the size of the previous biggest programme.

So far, well in excess of 700 businesses have signed up to accept the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow card and the numbers are still rising.

The programme has been funded with almost £9.5m of Scottish Government Covid recovery cash but I’m particularly pleased that here in Glasgow we’ve decided to use that to help as many homes and businesses as possible.

I am sure that we can make a positive and genuine impact on our communities and local economies.


Glasgow Times:

As Glasgow Times readers will now no doubt be aware, Glasgow has expressed its interest in hosting next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

We are the safest of safe hands when it comes to delivering a big event in difficult circumstances, not least COP26. But we also have something extra - the warmth of our welcome is famous for any event, but music-mad Glasgow would be particularly well suited for Eurovision.

There’s already been a considerable amount of work gone into preparing our bid and our strong track record, infrastructure, facilities and expertise puts us in a great position.

One aspect that has really heartened me is the position being taken by Eurovision’s organisers as regards Ukraine.

They have repeatedly emphasised that whichever city does stage the event they are doing so on behalf of Ukraine, with a strong Ukrainian element in the show.

From the outset of Russia’s unprovoked invasion, we have made sure that Ukrainians, both here in Scotland and at home, can see that Glasgow stands in solidarity.

The 2023 contest will still be Ukraine’s Eurovision - but Glasgow would be honoured to lend ourselves to them for the occasion.