I MUST say I agree with David Mundell MP when he says the First Minister should concentrate on the day job and the things that are really important to people.

Healthcare is really important to me and I am grateful to the Scottish Government for the best healthcare system in the British Isles, free at point of use, unlike in England, where I would have to pay £9 for every prescription and be charged £40 to jump the queue to see a GP in a health service partly run by Richard Branson’s private healthcare company. 1.3 million asthma suffers in England skip some of their doses to save costs, according to Asthma UK.

I thank all the European citizens who have come to Scotland to work in our health service, hotels and care sector.

Scotland would not function without these workers. We should be grateful that the Scottish Government has not only opposed the hostile and disgraceful anti-immigration stance of the Westminster Conservatives but has quite correctly stated that immigration must be devolved to Holyrood.

A prosperous Scotland requires free movement of people. Federal Quebec in Canada has its own immigration system – there should be no problems transferring these powers to Holyrood, supposedly the most powerful devolved parliament in the world. I look forward to Mr Mundell supporting that as someone who wants to stand up for Scotland.

The pound in my pocket is also important and I am grateful to be paying lower tax bills than the rest of the UK whilst receiving much better public services. I am very grateful that those on low incomes are protected as much as possible from the Conservatives’ Universal Credit polices of sanctions and taking money from the poorest to give back to the wealthy.

I am proud that thanks to Scottish Government police,s Scotland produces much of its electricity from renewables, not only reducing carbon but providing high-quality jobs in remote parts of the country.

I am delighted that the Auditor-General has given such a glowing report on the Scottish Government’s welfare programme and that we are helping people effectively in Scotland rather than the disastrous flagship Conservative policy of Universal Credit which does so much to punish people for being poor.

I now look forward to the Scottish Government, after such fantastic infrastructure projects as the Queensberry Crossing – built on time and under budget and able to operate in high winds – creating a railway line between Dumfries and Lockerbie to allow Dumfries to connect directly to Edinburgh, which would be transformational.

Of course the FM has been less successful in other areas. Despite being promised in 2014 that Scotland is valued and would lead the UK, we have seen Scotland, which overwhelming and democratically voted to remain in the EU, totally marginalised and ignored in the Brexit process. This is also despite the compromises made by Holyrood that Scotland would accept single market membership. This is in complete contrast to the anti-compromise, anti-abortion, anti-gay, Orange Lodge-supporting Democratic Unionist Party, who have massive influence, and who were given an extra £1 billion to support the Conservative party.

Scotland receives £2 billion every year from the EU, and being dragged out of the largest free trade area in the world against our democratic wishes will be disastrous for our region.

Our group is composed of people living in Dumfries and Galloway who originally came from south of the Border to make our homes here and who now campaign for all decisions about Scotland to be made in Holyrood. Please join us.

John Schofield
D&G English Scots for Yes