POLLS brought mixed news for Yessers this week.

While support for independence was riding high at 53% in the Ipsos Scottish Political Monitor poll reported by this newspaper, support for the Scottish National Party in voting intentions at Westminster has dropped to 41% and the SNP face the threat of losing seats to the Labour Party.

However, when the pollsters put six questions to voters on which party they trusted most, the SNP came out on top each time, including on the questions of which party is most trusted to stand up for Scotland’s interests, to grow the economy and to tackle the cost of living crisis.

This last point is very important as it could determine who wins the next election in Scotland.

It is quite clear to me that for my constituents this is the most pressing issue they face.

Almost everyone is affected from mortgage payers to people on low wages or benefits who are struggling to eat and folk who are in work but are struggling to pay their bills and rent despite having a job.

The party which prioritises this issue and has a good record to point to in tackling it is the party which stands to win Scottish voters’ trust. And there is no doubt that that party is the SNP.

We can point to concrete examples such as the Scottish Government’s game-changing child poverty payment and our MPs’ campaign against the Universal Credit cut.

The way in which an SNP government has dealt with NHS staff pay claims is also radically different from the Tories’ confrontational approach. On the housing crisis, we also have a good story to tell.

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On Tuesday, I summed up for the SNP in a Westminster Hall debate on short-term lets and planning law. The debate was prompted by the Tories’ recently opened consultation on a registration scheme for short-term rental properties in England.

I was able to point to legislation already implemented in Scotland and a scheme which is now up and running, together with other steps including a rent freeze put in place by the Scottish Government to tackle the housing crisis.

I was able to tell the Tory MPs who had demanded the debate that in Scotland the SNP have already taken the vital measures needed to ensure short-term lets are not replacing affordable, long-term accommodation for local residents in tourist hotspots.

Edinburgh became the first let control area in July last year and a smaller control area is planned in the Highlands.

These powers will take some time to bed in but they are now in use, with Airbnb hosts having until October 1 to register their properties.

The National:

The City of Edinburgh Council’s policy means the majority of short-term let applications for homes in tenements or any property with a shared main door will be refused, so there will likely be a significant number of properties brought back into use for long-term private rent or available to buy.

It was refreshing to hear Tory MPs agree that in this area at least the UK Government should be looking to the Scottish Government for guidance.

This past week at Westminster has provided ample evidence that it is the SNP rather than Labour who are making the running in challenging the Tory government on the policies which have caused the cost of living crisis and proposing a different way of doing things.

Labour are otherwise engaged, intent on dancing to the Tories’ tune on immigration and seemingly content with the Tory plan to let that issue dominate the election at UK level.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Keir Starmer went with topics designed to show that Labour would be even tougher on immigration than the Tories.

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It was left to SNP group leader Stephen Flynn to raise the impact of the cost of living crisis on families across Scotland and the UK.

While the overall inflation rate fell from 10.1% to 8.7% this week, food inflation is near to a 45-year high, with the basics on which we all rely worst affected. Pasta is up 27%. A loaf of bread is up 18%. Milk, cheese and eggs are up 29%. And overall, food costs are 19.1% higher than they were a year ago.

It is little wonder that Radio Scotland reported this week that many of the most important workers in our society, our carers, are reliant on food banks to make ends meet.

After PMQs, my fellow SNP MP Carol Monaghan secured an urgent question on the Tories’ new visa rules for international postgraduate students, which are likely to discourage many from coming to the UK. When Labour’s spokesperson got to his feet, he confirmed they supported the changes.

Even though I have got used to Labour’s capitulations, I can tell you that my mouth literally fell open – particularly as he went on to use his allotted time to attack the Tories for not doing more to reduce net immigration, trotting out Gordon Brown’s tired old rhetoric about British jobs for British workers.

When he sat down, the Tory minister hailed his “Damascene conversion”. It was more than depressing.

An English Labour friend remarked to me later that “the SNP are the only decent party on immigration now”. That she was right was confirmed when Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was on her feet in the Commons lambasting the Tories for having “no plan and no grip on immigration” and bemoaning the increase in work visas issued by the Tories.

Labour’s position on migration is insane. To take just student migration as an example, data produced by Universities UK shows that in the year 2020/21 international students contributed £42 billion to the UK economy.

In my Edinburgh South West constituency, where international students flock to attend Edinburgh Napier, and Heriot-Watt universities, the figure was £170.8 million.

Higher education is an important Scottish export. Universities Scotland, the umbrella body representing Scotland’s 19 universities, estimates that university exports of education, research and commercialisation add £1.9bn to the Scottish economy annually.  This is just one example of how inward migration benefits the Scottish economy. Yet Labour will ignore that reality to pander to anti-immigration English voters.

Likewise, Starmer has now completely thrown in the towel on Brexit, refusing to contemplate reversing it notwithstanding the growing evidence that leaving the EU has failed to deliver what was promised and is actively damaging our economy and contributing to the cost of living crisis.

In Scotland, voters understand that soaring food prices and staff shortages, particularly in the hospitality industry and NHS, are down to Brexit. Another recent poll showed that 70% of Scots agree Brexit has been a failure.

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In Scotland voters get this – but Starmer’s Labour Party cannot even acknowledge it and only the SNP offer a route back into the European Union.

So, despite the undoubted challenges the SNP currently face, our party, our parliamentarians at Westminster and our government at Holyrood are in tune with the number one concern of Scottish voters and have a good story to tell on facing up to and tackling the issue.

While the polls are giving us a bumpier ride than we have had for a while, these self-evident strengths will stand us in good stead as we enter the long campaign towards next year’s General Election.

The SNP have the message Scottish voters want to hear. Yes, the aspiration of independence must be front and centre in our manifesto, but while so many voters in Scotland are scared by and struggling to meet day-to-day costs, it is on that issue that most votes will ultimately be decided.