THE Omicron variant described by Professor Chris Whitty as a “pandemic on top of a pandemic” is spreading in East Lothian, even though most have followed the First Minister’s guidance on masks and reduced social contacts. Getting vaccinations and boosters is the best way to welcome 2022.

I was proud to top the poll for Holyrood and vote for the SNP-Green Party agreement but there is no doubt it has been a challenging time. Alongside the pandemic, other problems remain: the school attainment gap; people in poverty relying on foodbanks; long-term drugs-related deaths. But the people of East Lothian demonstrated confidence Scotland can become a better country under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership, an outcome showing voters’ commitment to democracy amidst the worst domestic crisis of our lifetimes.

According to recent polling, support for independence has reached 55 per cent nationally, with 50 per cent support in East Lothian. Both statistics and timing suggest that this extends across the parties, benefiting from the contrast between an orderly Holyrood and Westminster’s disintegrating chaos.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson floundered at a televised press conference, unable to explain why he disregarded the First Minister’s policies to slow the spread of Omicron and, as Mr Johnson’s proposals didn’t impact on Scotland, SNP MPs didn’t vote on them. When Tory MPs rebelled, the PM needed Labour support to get even limited pandemic measures approved, weakening Boris Johnson. Tory by-election defeat further damaged Mr Johnson’s reputation as ‘a winner’.

The Brexit Minister’s resignation shows that, far from ‘getting Brexit done’, the Brexiteers have engineered diplomatic and political failure as well as economic disaster.

A great irony underlies Brexiteer claims about “freedom and independence as a country... building a new relationship with the EU... [with] full freedom about our future choices as a country” – not SNP words about independence, but Lord Frost’s in his resignation letter praising the Brexit deal soundly rejected by the people of Scotland. Truly we are now a ‘nation in waiting’ for full control of our own country.

I wish you healthier and happier times ahead in 2022.