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In Dumbarton and across the country, these past 12 months haven’t been easy. For many families – especially those living in our most deprived communities – the pressures and strains of the pandemic have had a particularly adverse impact on mental health and wellbeing.

With Spring upon us, things are looking a bit brighter – but the path out of the coronavirus crisis is set to be a cautious one. As we look to recover from covid, it’s vital that those hit hardest in our communities are not forgotten about.

Politics is about choices, and the upcoming Scottish election on 6th May gives us all a chance to decide what kind of country we want to be after the pandemic.

The SNP Scottish government is prioritising giving a helping hand to the many families whose struggles after a decade of Tory-imposed austerity have been worsened by the impact of Covid-19.

Plans to provide free school lunches and breakfasts all year round for all primary pupils in Scotland; every child to be given a laptop for use at home and in school to tackle the digital divide; and a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment to boost the incomes of thousands of hard-pressed families.

These are just a few of the ambitious policies announced by the SNP which will help tackle the poverty and inequality facing so many families in West Dunbartonshire.

However, these efforts continue to be undermined by a Tory government at Westminster which prioritises bombs over bairns – pledging to spend billions more on new nuclear weapons whilst planning cuts to the incomes of millions of people struggling to get by on Universal Credit.

Next month’s election is the most important in our nation’s history – and it’s clearer than ever that Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands.

Our local SNP candidate for Dumbarton is Toni Giugliano – a tireless campaigner who is committed to tackling injustice, poverty and inequality in our communities. Toni’s years of experience as a mental health worker give him a real insight into the challenges facing many local families just now, and he is determined to deliver change for Dumbarton.

With the full powers of a normal independent country, there’s so much more we could do in Scotland to build a fairer society post-covid and transform lives for the better.

The issue at this election is who has the right to decide what sort of country Scotland should be after the pandemic – people in Scotland or Boris Johnson.

I look forward to campaigning to elect Toni Giugliano as a hardworking SNP MSP for Dumbarton. And together making the positive case for independence and the choice to put Scotland’s recovery in Scotland’s hands.

This article was written for publication in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter.

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