THE past year has been difficult for all of us. The restrictions on what we can do and who we can meet with have changed our daily lives and, for many, the pandemic has brought hardship in the form of lost jobs or reduced incomes and great sadness with the death of loved ones.

It has, however, shown how resilient our communities are. The dedication of our health and social care staff and other key workers cannot be thanked enough.

And the efforts of volunteers in our local communities have made a real difference to those having to shield or self-isolate.

But it has also shown the benefits of Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. In particular, the furlough scheme and additional funding from the UK to Scottish Government that has been put in place by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has saved hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs and protected the incomes of many more.

The foresight of the UK Government to invest in the development of vaccinations and secure a large portfolio of supplies has ensured that over half the adult population of Scotland has now had their first doses.

Working together across the UK with the NHS and the British Army, we have one of the fastest vaccinations roll out programmes in the world.

Despite this, the SNP are going into this election on a platform of securing another referendum on separation.

On 6th May, you have two votes: a constituency vote for your local MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane on your lilac ballot paper; and a party vote on your peach ballot paper.

Over the past five years, I have stood up for residents of the Wee County and challenged the SNP’s record of failure in government.

I have given local issues a national platform at Holyrood, including the SNP’s failure to get laptops to children during the pandemic, and overly long mental health waiting times.

But there is lots still to do. I want to see fair funding for Clackmannanshire Council so that we can protect vital public services.

I want to put a stop to the SNP overturning planning decisions taken by local councillors.

I want to reverse the SNP’s cuts to education by recruiting 3,000 teachers. And I want to continue to support our businesses to recover from the pandemic.

I hope that you will be able to help me to do this by electing me as your local MSP.

But it is just as important that you cast your party vote for the Scottish Conservatives.

At the last election, party votes for the Scottish Conservatives are what deprived the SNP of an overall majority.

Now we need to do it again, because the SNP say if they win a majority in May they will push for another referendum, perhaps as soon as later this year.

Scottish Labour have said they won’t take part in a coalition to stop the SNP and the LibDems are too far behind to challenge them.

And a vote for new, untested parties will split the pro-UK vote and let more pro-independence parties into Holyrood.

So only your vote for Scotland’s main opposition party, the Scottish Conservatives, can stop the SNP and their referendum, and instead get the Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focussed on recovery from the pandemic.