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Opinion: After a muted New Year due to the pandemic there is hope on the horizon for the Independence movement as there has been real progress with public opinion

By Scott Maclennan

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Green MSP John Finnie.
Green MSP John Finnie.

This season’s festive celebrations were somewhat more muted than many of us are used to. Sadly, coronavirus is incapable of recognising the holidays and so we had to remain cautious.

There’s no doubt that this will be difficult for many of us. Loneliness and social isolation become more acute in the winter months at the best of times, but after a difficult year when so many more of us have been cut off from friends and family it will doubtless be felt more keenly.

The prize for sticking with it is reuniting with our loved ones in a pandemic-free future. We’ve taken some major strides towards making that a reality with the roll out of the vaccine which presents our best chance of escape from the coronavirus.

Dr Jonathan Whiteside, clinical lead for critical care with NHS Highland, became the first person to receive the vaccine in the health board area. He and NHS Highland staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and the vaccination will allow them to continue to care for patients safely. Vulnerable older people, especially those in care homes, will also be top of the list for receiving doses and so there’s good reason to be optimistic.

None of that means we can be complacent, the virus still poses a threat to many, but the vaccine does provide hope and, on the day I write this, we learnt that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK. This is great news as the Oxford vaccine is easier to store and distribute, as it can be kept at normal fridge temperature.

This year will, however, bring other challenges, in the form of our final and complete departure from the EU, something the people of Scotland didn’t vote for.

The stockpiling of food and other essentials at the start of lockdown had a real consequence for many, particularly the most vulnerable in society. So, while I have real concerns about our departure from the EU I’d encourage everyone to resist the temptation to buy more than needed.

Perhaps predictably the right-wing UK government secured an eleventh hour deal with the EU – equally predictable was them sacrificing our fisherman along the way. In the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Greens, along with all bar the supine Tories, voted to refuse to give Legislative Consent to Boris Johnson’s calamitous deal won on half-truths by a Tory government whose own analysis acknowledges this deal will make Scotland poorer.

For months successive polls have shown a majority of those living in Scotland believe there is a better option for the country where we can shape our own future, taking our seat at the European table, as an independent nation.

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