EVERYONE in East Lothian is impacted by the hard yards of the pandemic, facing another winter of restrictions designed to keep the community safe. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon again reaffirms this as her top priority, placing it before the question of Scotland’s future or party politics.

Some constituents might question whether the SNP’s Ian Blackford should also have introduced a parliamentary censure motion rebuking the Prime Minister. I say to the doubters: holding the powerful to account during the most serious social, economic and human crisis for three generations is not a distraction, it’s a political and moral obligation.

Even newspapers and media outlets favourable to Boris Johnson comment on his omni-shambles premiership, ranging from u-turns on social care and trains to scrutiny of his personal conduct and ill-prepared speeches. The infamous Peppa Pig address to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) not only embarrassed the UK but also obscured thoughtful comments by CBI director general Tony Danker advocating for economic and decision-making devolution for English regions.

He argued that growth should be evenly spread and new jobs in clean and renewable energy, life sciences and cyber-security should not be concentrated in south-east England. Old industries in Lancashire and Sheffield and shipbuilding on the Clyde had been “allowed to die” since the 1980s, leading Mr Danker to declare that the UK operates as a “branch line economy”, with the free market failing to deliver equal prosperity everywhere. Thirty-four years after Margaret Thatcher was photographed in Middlesbrough’s industrial wasteland, the Tories’ ‘levelling up’ agenda is trying to fix a problem of its own making. Holyrood needs full powers to follow its own path.

A new report by PwC finds that in the move towards net-zero transmission and green jobs, Scotland and London lead the UK. Around St Andrew’s Day, a newspaper is being delivered across Scotland with multiple voices discussing the objectives of independence: develop our talent and resources; promote wellbeing for a fairer nation; make us a green powerhouse for the future. We can achieve this: by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland. Build back better.