I would first want to congratulate Lesley Laird who was elected MP for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency last week and Peter Grant who was elected for the Glenrothes constituency both of which sit in the area covered by the Fife Times. I will work with both on constituency issues and for the improvement of local communities.
There are big issues and challenges facing all of us and many of these were reflected in the debates of the last 6 weeks. Austerity is not working, the levels of debt are rising as we fail to grow our economy, wages stagnate as prices go up and public services buckle under pressure of cuts whilst demand grows. So with a weak, and it seems clueless, Tory government clinging on to power I do hope we can build a strong consensus for change in a direction away from austerity policy to one of investment, where it is so much required.
Campaigning here in Fife and across Scotland, in the last weeks of the campaign it was clear on the doors that support was growing for the proposition being put forward by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that there is another way, a better way of tackling the big issues and challenges, and that we can move forward from the divisions around constitutional politics to focus on the big social and economic issues in our country.
So I hope we can focus on addressing the health and social care challenges, address the pressures on education, build houses and create jobs by addressing the skills gaps in our local and regional economy. This requires a willingness to redistribute resources to those areas of the economy that will support growth. It also requires investment in our public services and in our greatest asset which is people. The skills gap in our country runs across most sectors of the economy from care, construction, teaching to technology and science. Addressing this requires a rethink both from the Edinburgh and London governments in terms of investment but also in terms of workforce planning and support for business and industry. Our local council is also key to driving the local economy, supporting skills development and working with both governments to support the change we need to see. I have written to the joint leaders in Fife Council asking for a meeting to discuss the economic plan for Fife for the next ten years as this is a good starting point for us locally to build for the future.