Sense of community to the fore

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Global, national and local events have made 2015 a memorable year – not always for the best of reasons.

And at this time of year, our thoughts are with all of those who find themselves in difficult circumstances at home and abroad, and all those in the emergency services, armed forces and security services who keep us safe all year round.

I always look forward to the Christmas service at my local parish church, but as I reflect on the past year, coming home to celebrate Christmas with friends and family, it’s our sense of community, the relationships and common bonds in our local communities, that make this part of Scotland such a special place and brings out the best in local people. Recently we saw that strong sense of community pull together after the damage done by the flooding.

Locally, my thoughts are with those all across the Borders who are suffering the effects of flooding this Christmas and I was humbled by the terrific response from the emergency services and local volunteers.

The New Year will undoubtedly bring surprises, but with such a strong sense of community spirit, I am sure that we can meet them.

For me, obviously the highlight was being elected at the general election as local MP for a third time with an increased vote and an increased vote share. I am grateful to everyone who supported me in May.

And then it was an honour to be asked by David Cameron to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland. I am pleased that my first task was to take the Scotland Bill through the House of Commons, now universally acknowledged as making the Scottish Parliament the most powerful devolved legislature in the world.

Looking ahead

Overall, this has been another busy year for me and the Borders.

On a local note, we’ve had good news recently with the new distillery coming to Peebles and the boost at Glentress.

After sad news earlier in the year, both of these should give the local economy a real boost and continue to attract growing numbers of visitors.

I will continue to work hard to make sure this large rural constituency is well represented both locally and nationally.

The year ahead looks equally busy and is set to be another momentous one for Scotland, with big choices ahead.

No matter how turned off you are by politics or how fed up you are of hearing the same questions go unanswered, I would urge you to continue to listen to the arguments being made and have your say.

In 2016 there will no let-up to the political debate, with Scottish Parliament elections to be held in May. I hope that debate will focus on what can be done for this area with these new powers rather than the usual constitutional wrangling.

A Merry Christmas and A Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year to all readers.