PARLIAMENT started back this week after summer recess and much of the hype was about the new cooperation agreement between the SNP and the Green Party.

The pro -independence newspaper, The National, was excited that this would start a renewed drive for an independence referendum, but I would urge caution, and suggest the absolute focus of parliament and government must be the ongoing threat of the virus as well as the massive detrimental impact it has had on health, education, the economy and society in general.

I am not signed up to the ‘never’ argument against another referendum, but I certainly think now is not the time and I would caution those who are desperate for one to be very careful what you wish for.

Defeat on a binary question in the middle of such crisis would not only kill the issue for many decades but would cement Scotland into the current flawed UK system of government for many generations to come.

As a devolutionist I believe there is a better way but first we must face up to and tackle the massive challenges our country faces in the here and now.

The vaccine roll out has been a great achievement without which we would not be opening up as we are, but I would urge those who have not had the vaccine to do so.

I do get correspondence from anti vaxxers pointing to things they have read most of which are not accurate, exaggerated, or downright lies.

Killer diseases such as smallpox, measles, polio, tetanus, rubella have been defeated through vaccination so I would ask people to think carefully before listening to some of the dangerous misinformation around Covid vaccination.

My office is dealing with a high volume of constituency issues around our NHS with waiting times for many services at unprecedented levels.

The truth is these services were struggling before the pandemic with an SNP government in power for 14 years failing to get a grip on the issues.

The same is true in education where promises on class sizes were broken, and both staffing levels and the curriculum have been mismanaged.

Likewise, you can look at transport, the economy, skills and training, all of which are the responsibility of the Scottish government and all of which were in trouble before the pandemic.

So these are in my view the issues that must be the priority of our parliament for the immediate period ahead.