LAST week, came the announcement that we've all been expecting. A general election has been called for July 4.

The country is desperate for change, just as it was after the last long period of Tory government in 1997. Years of Brexit, Covid and a cost of living crisis have left many households struggling.

While the austerity budgets handed from Westminster to Holyrood have left public services struggling to keep up with growing demand.

The incompetence of the Tory government has been staggering, overshadowing anything I have seen in my lifetime. Brexit has led to economic stagnation, piling costs onto business and slowing the creation of new jobs.

I feel most sorry for young people who previously enjoyed freedom of movement to work and study across Europe but now face burdensome restrictions.

The audacity of a prime minister who now proposes to introduce "mandatory national service" for young people to get them 'out of their bubble' shows the desperate levels the government has sunk to.

We face a housing crisis which is particularly damaging for young people and while Holyrood must prioritise getting new and empty homes onto the market, the Scottish Government must continue the work started by the Scottish Greens to protect vulnerable renters from extortionate increases in rents.

We also cannot forget that we are facing a generation-defining climate crisis. How we choose to respond to this challenge will determine the course of our planet, and our children's future.

For too long the Tory government has rolled back on nature protections, doubled down on new nuclear power, or refused to hold polluting private companies to account, their record is bleak.

Closer to home, the Scottish Government talk the talk on climate ambition. And whilst the Scottish Greens were in government, we worked hard to turn this into real action – from removing peak time rail fares, to supercharging our renewables sector here in Scotland.

The new first minister said last week that tackling the climate emergency was one of his four top priorities for Scotland. I couldn't agree more.

But although we know that preventing climate breakdown means leaving new oil and gas in the ground and accelerating a meaningful just transition for oil and gas workers, the first minister and his cabinet secretary for net xero are refusing to make that commitment.

Instead, they've kicked the decision into the long grass – which will do nothing to protect the long-term jobs of energy workers.

Over the next few weeks, governments in Scotland and Westminster will be under increased scrutiny from voters.

People in Clackmannanshire will be wondering who they can trust to take the brave and bold decisions to protect vulnerable people and our planet.

We simply do not have time left to waste. The next few years will be critical if we want to reverse the damage done to our climate. And I hope all candidates, elected members, and governments don't forget that.