In her latest Post column, Drumchapel Councillor Anne McTaggart shares her thoughts on the New Year ahead...

The nights are fair drawing in. However, for many, this won’t be a time to coorie in comfortingly with our loved ones but a dark time of worrying whether they will be able to see it through the week, let alone make it to Christmas.

A debate about when is the right date to put the tree and lights up is theoretical when you’re scared to put the heating on.

Nevertheless, whilst cursed with some of the worst weather in the world, we Scots are also blessed with some of the best excuses to celebrate through the winter months.

St Andrew’s Day bookended with Burns Night is anchored by Hogmanay – our gift to the world and embraced by Glasgow...the city that put the ‘art’ in party.

There is also Celtic Connections – the world’s largest winter music festival, which annually buoys us through January.

This year, a major highlight will be a centenary concert 100 years on since the death of schoolteacher and Scottish republican socialist John Maclean.

A glittering cast, led by the likes of Eddi Reader, will come together to recognise the significance of his life, work and legacy.

Last week, I spoke on a successful motion put forward by the SNP regarding Maclean.

Having spent much of my life in adult education, he has always been an inspiration to me.

He called for the raising of the leaving age to 16, bursaries for further education and for free education – policies promoted and protected by the SNP, whilst sadly in England, under both the Tories and Labour, young people’s life chances, as well as adult learner opportunities, are seen as revolutionary asks from an underserving underclass.

These are the values of Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour: keep the Tory bedroom tax, keep the Tory two-child benefit cap, keep the Tory rape clause, keep tuition fees in England, keep anti-worker legislation and cosy up to big business and let the ‘bankers’ off Scot-free.

You can’t trust Labour to deliver change when they won’t even scrap the cruellest of Tory policies.

Maclean’s aspirations were for an independent Scottish republic – a Scotland where workers’ rights were protected and in the hands of the Scottish people, rather than a faraway, warmongering Westminster.

The motion was passed in the same week that Sir Keir praised Margaret Thatcher for effecting “meaningful change” and was welcomed to Glasgow by protesters who shamed him for blocking an SNP call at Westminster for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In Maclean’s own words, “no matter what our differences may be, (we) agree that a workers’ party is necessary. The divergence arises as to whether the present Labour Party is the one. The Labour Party of today, not being socialist, is useless.”

On the same day, I also spoke about how the SNP are empowering communities, from involving them and the third sector in the redesign of the Community Grant Fund to award-winning initiatives like People Make Glasgow Communities (PMGC).

The latter provides the opportunity for local groups and organisations to become more involved in the management and running of Glasgow City Council-owned land, buildings or venues to provide services in local communities by building capacity and simplifying the asset transfer process.

In my own ward, Drumchapel United are aspiring to take over local football pitches, while the Drumhub aim to use Drumchapel Park Pavilion as a cafe and community meeting place.

The task SNP Glasgow inherited was immense – a huge bureaucracy too often disconnected from communities and citizens; historic under-investment in key services; a lack of strategic action on Glasgow’s deep-seated economic and social challenges; and poor relationships with key partners and an arrogant attitude to the people of Glasgow and their voice.

Overturning the failures of past administrations has not been easy and, while progress can take time, we remain determined to deliver change.

Under the SNP, the council now looks outwards to the city, rather than inwards. Services are being reorganised with a neighbourhood and people-centred focus, responding more effectively to local issues and to the needs of individuals.

PMGC and the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Fund pilot recently won the international 2023 Open Government Partnership category for ‘Citizen Power.'

As an internationalist who believed in the right of Scotland to take its place on the world stage as part of the family of nations, I’m sure Maclean would have been proud of this accolade.

And whilst Sir Keir bends his knee and Labour doff their caps to Thatcher, I know whose side Maclean would have been on. Like the SNP, the people of Glasgow.

“Meaningful change” is long overdue and only an independent Scotland will guarantee that.