AFTER the past year, our communities, our economy and often our families are under immense pressure. It is essential that we spend every waking minute in the next parliament concentrating on recovering and building for a brighter future. If you listen to the SNP and the Tories, it’s as if nothing has happened, with yet more rounds of constitutional bickering. That’s the choice we face in this election: another five years of divisive arguments or a positive future where we put recovery first.

If elected, I pledge to do everything in my power to fight for our jobs, our health service, our schools and our environment. I will not spend the next five years obsessing over independence. In my professional career in charities, social care and child protection, I have always fought to empower the most vulnerable in our communities. If elected, I will fight to put more power back into the hands of our communities: trust our councils, teachers, doctors and carers to make decisions rather than the Edinburgh-centred approach of the current government.

When the SNP came to power 14 years ago, they pledged to cut class sizes and close the attainment gap. Nicola Sturgeon said judge me on education. I am sorry to say, it’s a big fail from me on that report card. The attainment gap is wider than it has been for years, disadvantaging our poorest families. Her Government initially allowed the SQA to overrule teacher assessments, based on a flawed computer algorithm. The education secretary has sat on an OECD report until after the election. We need a different approach, one that accepts and acts on international evidence and trusts our teachers; an approach that helps our young people bounce back, with more in-class support, job guarantees for teachers and a laser-sharp focus on literacy and numeracy.

Our NHS has done us proud over the last year, but it needs help after one of the hardest years in its history. We will finally put the so far only warm words into action and inject real investment to make sure that mental health is seen as just as important as physical health, putting mental health professionals at the heart of our communities. We would create new diagnosis and treatment centres to help break through the backlog caused by the pandemic. On the economy, we need to fight for a recovery that doesn’t merely accept going back to the situation pre-pandemic. That left too many individuals, families and businesses out in the cold. We need a sustainable recovery that is based on fairness. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they recover from the pandemic.

Time is running out for us to tackle perhaps the greatest crisis of all, the looming climate emergency. Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see one million homes converted to ‘green’ central heating and urgent moves to decarbonise our transport network. We also need to fight to protect our natural spaces with 36 million trees planted a year, two new national parks and a national strategy to rewild our country.

No matter your view on independence, surely now is the time to put our economy, our society and our communities first rather than our views on the constitution. We have so many challenges as a country, let’s come together and put recovery first.

Please make both votes Scottish Liberal Democrat.

Euan Davidson biography: I was brought up in nearby Loanhead. Now 26, I first became politically active as a teen fighting for a local skatepark and to protect our green spaces. After leaving school, I spent some time in Aberdeen, where I worked in social care with adults with learning disabilities and for a gender-focussed violence charity. During this time, I also undertook voluntary youth work, promoting relationships and drugs education to other young people. I qualified as a social worker from Sheffield Hallam University in 2019 and have worked in child protection, among children with disabilities, in social work and youth homelessness. I also had a spell volunteering with an education charity in the Calais refugee camps. I currently live in Edinburgh with my partner and am employed as a case worker for an MP, helping residents with a huge array of issues, from business grants and bin collections to benefits appeals and lobbying government ministers for policy change. I have served as president of the Scottish Young Liberals, where I led on campaigns to ban the barbaric practice of LGBT conversion therapy, stopping unfair tenancy fees for renters, and for a ban on snaring to help protect our precious wildlife. East Lothian is an incredible place and it deserves better than an obsession with the constitution and invisible representation. As we begin to see an end of lockdown, we need to shift to a recovery phase that must not be a ‘return to normal’. We need a greener, fairer and more balanced vision for our communities. I’ve worked in the public and voluntary sector for those facing deprivation and discrimination. Our public services are crumbling and a lasting impact of this pandemic is making existing inequalities worse. I have the passion and knowledge to be a strong voice on these issues.