Well 2013 has certainly gone out with a blast of some extreme weather.
Looking ahead to 2014 it is certainly going to be a momentous year for Scotland as we make the biggest constitutional decision of our generation in the independence referendum in September.
In recent weeks I have been asked by more and more people locally about the referendum, helping them get the information that they want - information that is often different for each individual depending on the issues that they, personally, care most about.
One of the biggest events of the year was the launch of the Scottish Government’s White Paper on Independence entitled ‘Scotland’s Future - Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’. The launch event was quite an experience with wall-to-wall broadcast media from right across the world covering the event. I mention that aspect of it because it demonstrates how Scotland is recognised as a nation internationally and the respect that we have as a country.
The underlying question that the referendum poses is, of course, are we being the best that we can be? My answer would obviously be that we need the normal powers of independence to do the best that we can for our people and contribute the greatest that we can to our friends in other countries across the world. My job for 2014, along with many others, is to demonstrate why that is the case and why we need a Yes vote!
In the coming months up to September I will be out and about dealing with both the ‘normal’ day-to-day work of an MSP but also speaking to as many people as possible about the referendum and setting out the positive vision for Scotland’s future that I know many others out there share as well.
Locally, in a year of more ups than downs we have a lot of things to be positive about. Following the sad loss in 2013 of Buckie Shipyard, there has now been positive news at Buckie Harbour with investment by Macduff Shipyards. The community-led campaign to save Cullen Library succeeded with Moray Council forced into a u-turn.
Banff Museum re-opened under community management. Peterhead Prison neared completion and created more local jobs. Fraserburgh launched its ‘Super Saturdays’ which were a tremendous success and got people back into the town centre. I’ve noticed also that a number of new shops and businesses are starting to fill some of the gaps in our town centres.
2014 is certainly going to be an interesting year with challenges and major opportunity. We just need to grasp it!