SPRING is all around, except in the Scottish economy, where few green shoots are to be seen. In the last few months of 2016 our economy shrank, and we seem headed for recession.

The Scottish Government has blamed uncertainty caused by Brexit, but surely that applies to the rest of Britain too? Yet in the same period, the UK economy grew by almost two per cent.

When you see this is a trend since 2014, it is hard not to conclude that the extra uncertainty of the independence referendum is to blame, and another one is the last thing we need.

GDP figures can seem just theoretical but the effect is real, in unemployment and suppressing wages. No coincidence that last week we discovered that a record 64 per cent of households with at least one member in work are still facing poverty. Figures also emerged showing that the ‘real’ unemployment rate, including those who want to work but are economically inactive, stands at almost 10 per cent. That does not take account growing numbers of part-time and zero-hour jobs.

This is what all politicians should be focused on. That is just as true locally as nationally.

For example, East Lothian Council’s construction academy, a joint venture with Edinburgh College, is aimed at ensuring local youngsters get a chance at the jobs when all those houses we see being built go up. Labour councillors have also fought to ensure that local companies and tradespeople get more of the contracts the council spends money on. New business accommodation and promotion of our food and drink companies and tourism opportunities have been important. Even improving bus services can help people get to a decent job.

All this matters and that is why we need local councillors who will keep their focus on putting East Lothian first – now more than ever.