IT would be completely remiss of me not to start my first column of the new Scottish Parliament term without a very heartfelt and humble note of thanks to everyone that voted to return me as their MSP in Glasgow Anniesland – so thank you all very, very much.

My team and I will try to continue to promote and defend the issues that really matter to you, both on a personal and on a political level, to the very best of our abilities.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, and being stuck for the short election campaign within the Level 3 tier of our hoped-for recovery, there were no guarantees that voters would turn out in large numbers. But turn out you did, so well done to you all.

At the count on May 7, we had both major parties within the constituency recording sizeable increases in their percentage vote, which is always good for democracy. And, if you’ll allow me this wee sentence, it is a testament to the hard work of all parties’ activists that within the current rules, so much work was able to be carried out and so many pamphlets, leaflets and messages were designed, printed and delivered.

That not only shows people what was achieved: it emphasised how much more we need to push forward our goal of improving the situation on a personal level – not only in the Anniesland constituency, but across the city and around Scotland.

And that hard work was achieved for the most part in unusually cold and unseasonal weather, so hats off to them all for their dedication, and a personal note of thanks to young Malcolm Mitchell who stepped in to lead the SNP campaign within Glasgow Anniesland while studying for his second year law exams.

I’ve started back at parliament this week with both the swearing in ceremony and the important vote for our new presiding officer both taking place on Thursday. Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone was elected unopposed as our new presiding officer and I wish her every success in this pivotal position as another historic chapter in our Parliament’s history begins to unfold.

And already it is very much a case of “back to work”. Last Friday there was a set or urgent questions asked of the government in the parliament chamber, and then there came the announcement from the First Minister that because of rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in parts of Glasgow, the city would not be easing to Level 2 restrictions for at least another week.

May I just end this column by remembering once again the terrible suffering many families have endured through losing loved ones during the pandemic. So if you have family around you, hold them that little bit closer, if and when you can.