- Ian Murray: Happy new election year resolutions to all

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget will be on March 6Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget will be on March 6
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget will be on March 6
I hope all readers had a merry Christmas and I wish everyone a very happy new year. When we ring in the bells next week, I’m sure politics won’t be on most people’s minds.

But when the dust settles on the festivities, we will be at the start of an election year – and it’s the first time since 2015 we can say that with certainty.

The announcement that the Chancellor will deliver his budget on March 6 makes it increasingly likely that we are heading towards a May election.

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Certainly, Labour will start the new year by gearing up for that likelihood.

The forthcoming budget will come after 14 years of economic failure under the Conservatives, which has left working people worse off.

The tax burden is set to be the highest in seven decades, with 25 Tory tax rises since the last election (not to mention the additional tax rises imposed in Scotland by the SNP), and economic growth once again in reverse.

Zero growth between April and June, followed by a contraction between July and September, has increased the risk of another recession.

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Whatever Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announces in March will simply be unable to repair the huge damage the Tories have inflicted on our economy and household budgets.

For workers and businesses, the start of 2024 brings yet another period of financial uncertainty.

The SNP will, inevitably, blame Westminster – it is the only argument it has.

The Tories will highlight the mess the SNP has made of Scotland’s economy without recognising their own failings.

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What a sorry state of affairs for two parties that have, respectively, been in power for 17 and 14 years.

Perhaps they should have bought each other large mirrors for Christmas so they could see who is responsible for the chaos.

But 2024 also brings hope.

Next year the public have the chance to vote for change and a Labour Party that will change our country and economy for the better.

Under Keir Starmer, Labour has changed to become a credible alternative UK government – and we will ask the people to give us the chance to serve.

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Everyone knows the Tories and SNP are unfit to govern – they know that themselves – but for Labour we must also prove to the people that we offer real change and hope.

And that’s precisely what Keir and Anas Sarwar are focused on.

We will go into this year’s election with a positive policy platform which puts your priorities first.

We will fight in every community for every vote, so that towns and cities are represented by MPs who will put Scotland’s voice at the heart of government.

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The role of the Scotland Office will not be to pick fights, but to promote Brand Edinburgh and Brand Scotland on the world stage, as well as delivering reform at home.

The set-up of GB Energy, headquartered in Scotland, will be an early priority of a Labour government, with our plans supporting 50,000 highly skilled clean power jobs.

Scotland – like all of Britain – is desperate for change.

In 2024, we will ask the voters to give us the opportunity to serve so that we can deliver the change we all need.

Now that’s a New Year’s resolution I can keep.”