I'm glad to see that today's media gave a fair bit of coverage to Jack McConnell's pledge to put education at the centre of Labour's manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections. It's a good positive message to show what can be done in the Scottish Parliament, and also underlines what has already been achieved since Labour was elected. In my own constituency, when people want to know the positive achievements of the Scottish Parliament, I can point to the physical evidence on the ground - the big refurbishment and fine new sports hall at Drummond, the new primary schools built or on their way at Forthview, Pirniehall/St. Davids, Royston and Granton, the new secondary schools to built at Broughton and Craigroyston; and the new dining hall, gym and music facility at Flora Stevenson's starting this summer is more good news.
I've been out campaigning in different parts of Edinburgh North & Leith - West Pilton & Telford, Dean Village, and Leith Walk. The response on the doorsteps is quite positive, certainly a lot better than the opinion polls. There's a lot of awareness that there is a clear choice between Labour and the SNP, and understandably a lot of unease about what an SNP government would mean for Scotland. It seems to me Labour's task in these elections is to combine asking quite reasonable questions about the implications of separation and an SNP government with a positive message about our achievements at both Scottish and UK level. Without wanting to give a party political broadcast, we - in the UK, Scotland, and Edinburgh - do have one of the strongest economies in the world, low unemployment, high employment, low inflation and mortgage rates, and a lot of investment in public services (schools I've mentioned, but hospitals in our area as well, like the £50+ million investment at the Western General). Not a bad record!