PART of getting back to life as we knew it before this pandemic hit, is the fact that the democratic process goes on and we are now embarking on an election campaign for the Scottish Parliament.

Whilst it will be a campaign like none of us have seen before with many of the traditional elements ruled out because of the ongoing necessary restrictions, this is a hugely important election which will determine the road our country takes towards building our economic recovery from twin onslaught it has suffered at the hands of both Brexit and Covid.

If the last year has taught us anything it's that politics is about improving people's lives or it is about nothing at all. And that takes purpose and hard work.

Since being elected as your MSP in 2007, I've a proven track record of delivering for local communities.

I've built up good relationships with local businesses, community groups and third sector organisations.

I've organised an annual jobs fair to support jobs and employment opportunities for local people and supported many groups and organisations to gain funding.

I've also campaigned on issues such as improving road safety, protecting vital bus services. and keeping health services in our local area.

I was also pleased to play a part in securing millions of pounds of investment through the City Deal, investment which will be crucial to our local economy.

I'm proud of the incredible efforts of individuals, communities, third sector organisations in response to the Covid-19 crisis and, if re-elected as your MSP, I will work with you to build on this community spirit and resilience going forward.

This election is about who will lead us through and out of this crisis, and then onto recovery.

And while we must focus - first and foremost - on the difficult decisions that are still needed to make sure we don't give Covid the upper hand again, this campaign is also an opportunity to think about, and debate, the kind of country we want to build after the pandemic.

A fairer country, founded on the values of compassion and love, with an economy that is strong and works for everyone, and an equal partnership with our friends in the rest of the UK and across Europe. I believe Scotland's recovery should be in Scotland's hands.

We need to secure a recovery that is made here in Scotland and based on the values the majority of us subscribe to.

These are serious times, and the country needs serious leadership. The SNP has already announced a bold, progressive policy platform where our national mission will be to end child poverty.

Having already introduced the "game changing" Child Payment of £10 a week for low income families, we will increase this to £20 for each eligible child.

We will nationalise Scotland's railways bringing welcome stability and certainty to those who use our railway for work and leisure.

And that's only the start. Over the next days and weeks, we'll be setting out our plans in more detail, and our manifesto will be packed with limitless ambition for Scotland.

In this crucial election, we can tackle child poverty, build a fairer economy, invest in jobs and our people, and most importantly - secure Scotland's right to choose independence when the crisis has passed. Because the choice is not between a referendum or recovery, we need a referendum for recovery.