It’s unfortunate that most of the activities planned to mark the 80th anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz had to be postponed due to the pandemic. However, it was an honour as Clydebank’s MP to lay a wreath on behalf of my constituents to commemorate all those we lost during the devastation of those two nights of Blitz bombings.

I was pleased to see my colleague and friend Gil Paterson MSP lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the 80th anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz. Gil, who was first elected to Holyrood in 1999, is standing down as our local MSP and it’s fitting that his final speech in parliament should pay tribute to the people of Clydebank for their spirit, strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

Gil Paterson has served the communities of Clydebank with tireless dedication over the years. As an SNP MSP, Gil has stood up for his constituents and campaigned on a range of issues including tackling inequalities, reducing the impact of air traffic noise, and better support for women affected by domestic violence.

Although he is now retiring from frontline politics, I know Gil will continue being a strong voice in support of Scotland’s independence. The upcoming election on 6th May is the most important in our nation’s history – with it clearer than ever that Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands, not Boris Johnson’s.

Politics is about choices – and the Tory government at Westminster chooses to prioritise spending billions more on new nuclear warheads, while offering a paltry 1% pay rise to NHS workers.

A decent pay rise is the least our hardworking nurses deserve and, thanks to the SNP Scottish Government, NHS workers in Scotland are set to receive at least a 4% wage increase.

With the powers of a normal independent country, there is much more Scotland’s Parliament could do to ensure fairness is at the heart of our recovery from the Covid crisis.

The SNP take nothing for granted in the upcoming election. It won’t be easy replacing a hardworking MSP like Gil Paterson, but I l know our local SNP candidate Marie McNair is more than up for the challenge.

A Bankie born and bred, Marie McNair brings 17 years of experience as a local Councillor. Marie’s background in social care, including as a former nurse at St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, and now support worker for people with additional needs, gives her invaluable real life experience and focus on the challenges facing our communities.

I wish my colleague Gil well for his upcoming retirement, and look forward to the campaign ahead to elect Marie McNair as another strong voice for the people of Clydebank and Milngavie.

This article was written 26th March 2021 for publication in the Clydebank Post.