FOR the past 10 years, I have been the MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh and have been proud to serve the constituency. During this time, I have established an extensive, effective network of contacts and have developed relationships with businesses and across communities. This has been invaluable during the pandemic, when many have reached out for assistance.

The pandemic has also revealed the massive community spirit which produced such remarkable results. I have tremendous appreciation and gratitude for the selfless work done by so many volunteers.

No one can doubt that we face serious and complex economic challenges as we emerge from Covid-19, coupled with the continuing damage to our businesses from Brexit. My long banking career means I have the experiences in finance and economics to help support a successful recovery to our local economy.

My top priority is jobs and the economy, whilst also protecting those who are vulnerable after a hard year of isolation and economic challenges. This must be everyone’s focus as we rebuild our society once again.

We must protect our NHS from being sold. During the pandemic, we witnessed the selfless dedication of a huge number of NHS staff, as well as those working in social care and in care homes. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. The four per cent NHS pay rise from the Scottish Government is a symbol of that appreciation. Despite this, the UK Government is preparing a trade deal with the USA which will put public services up for sale, including our NHS. Already, some 37 GP surgeries in London have been taken over by American investors. NHS Scotland is not for sale and the SNP will not allow the Tories to do that here.

The SNP is committed to protecting all public services and I welcome ScotRail returning to public ownership. Privatisation of the rail network has been disastrous.

Climate change is a real threat and I have taken action on the pollution of our Esk river through the Esk River Improvement Group. I brought together key stakeholders such as Scottish Water, SEPA, the Coal Authority, community councils, fishing groups and local authorities to resolve the pollution problems. We are already seeing the benefits of this collaborative and united approach.

Scotland needs to take back control from the negligent and incompetent Westminster Government. We have proven that decisions taken in Scotland are better suited to our needs. Now Westminster are grabbing powers back from our Scottish Parliament, despite assurances in 2014 that more powers would be given.

Our future and the future of our children is too important to be left in the hands of Boris Johnson and his cronies. To put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, re-elect Colin Beattie on May 6.

Colin Beattie biography: My road into politics has been long and convoluted. My father was a hospital porter and my mother a crofter’s daughter. Looking back, I better understand the level of poverty in which we all lived then. When I was 14, I joined the SNP. At 15, I left school to work as an apprentice in the local bank. Leaving so early was not a choice – my parents could not afford for me to remain in school. I attended intensive night classes for several years, catching up on my missed education. My big opportunity came when I was accepted into the international service of a major bank. I spent 23 years in the Middle and Far East working in international banking. Like many Scots before me, moving overseas was the foundation for my future. It provided an excellent opportunity to expand my horizons and experience different cultures. Subsequently, I was head-hunted and spent 11 years working in London as a banker. The skills in finance, economics, international trade and corporate negotiations which I acquired have stood me in very good stead in the world of politics. These skills are going to be even more in demand as we emerge from the pandemic and the impact of a wrecking-ball Brexit. I settled in Dalkeith in 2001. In 2007, I was elected to Midlothian Council, representing Gorebridge, Moorfoots and Newtongrange (Ward 6). In 2011, I was privileged to be elected MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh with a majority of just under 3,000. In 2016, I was re-elected with an increased majority of just over 7,000. Now I am seeking re-election again. As an MSP I have little leisure time, but I do enjoy gardening, often accompanied by the resident fox that lives in my garden. Reading and different kinds of music remain favourite entertainment. Much has been done, but much remains to be done in this constituency. I am ambitious for our communities. I hope to be given the opportunity to continue with the job, using all my skills and experience, to keep delivering for everyone.