From Rob Gibson SNP MSP highlands and Islands
It came in with a blast of winter and its going out with another whiteout. Our public services and neighbourly behaviour in the North can cope. We'll keep our heads as long as we can keep our feet!
The hesitant end to recession and the long list of job losses in construction don't make a happy tale. However a rise in manufacturing is beginning to get Scotland moving. We hope that the success of Global at Invergordon and worldwide can be added to by the frustrating end to the Nigg yard stalemate. From Scottish Government to local developers, from offshore wind farm lessees to skilled workers working in oil and gas who want to come home it's a big hope that 2011 will see the breakthrough.
At Scottish level the SNP Government received deep cuts in funds by the London coalition of Tories and LibDems who have attacked government spending with an unwelcome passion. Student fees in England, benefit cuts that hit the poorest, the privatisation of the Royal Mail, a paltry Scotland bill that is more set to keep Holyrood accountable than to give the Scots Parliament the powers to invest in our huge natural assets.
Throughout the year the Scottish Government has continued the Council Ta freeze, maintained the small business bonus and scrapped prescription charges to aid families.
Other high spots included Ross-shire and Scotland warming to the story of County's Scottish football cup run up to the final at Hampden Park. Local pride was only dented at the last moment but the dream of a wee team getting in about the big boys is the stuff of legends and a friendly confirmation that football is best when rooted in a community that cares.
2011 to see not just the 25th anniversary celebrated by our home grown Feis Rois but a vast leap in self-belief in our native music and languages which the SNP Government has backed to the hilt. Also in my village home the local staff of the Coop Foodstore Evanton showed that Highland pride could beat 3,000 other stores for customer service across the UK.
Let's spare a thought for our troops who are having to wage war in Afghanistan and hope for their safe return will be as soon as possible. And to all of you have a Happy Christmas and a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands