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Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she is to resign as First Minister came as a shock to me and to nearly everyone else. Nicola has been a leading figure in the Scottish Parliament since it was reconvened twenty-four years ago and has been First Minister or Deputy First Minister for sixteen years – a long time in such an intensely high profile job. People will agree or disagree with her political opinions, that’s what democracy is for, but no-one can dispute the contribution she’s made to making Scotland a more progressive and inclusive country. And despite attempts even from within the Independence movement to undermine her she’s seen support for Independence regularly reaching and even exceeding 50% - something no other SNP leader has come close to.

Certainly on the occasions she’s visited this constituency the public reaction has made it obvious how highly most ordinary people regard her. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Nicola for many years as a council leader, election candidate, MP and most importantly as an activist. She’s been head and shoulders above any other political leader I’ve ever seen.

People are asking me who I intend to support in the SNP leadership election. I’ve now decided who I intend to vote for but I haven’t decided yet whether to say anything publicly. I usually believe that internal party elections should be contested within the party although some of the things I’ve seen happening this time are making me consider going public with my preference.

As I write this on Monday morning there’s intense speculation about a possible new deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol. It’s clear the Prime Minister is hoping to gat a huge popularity boost by claiming to have fixed the problem. Neither he nor anyone else in his party should be allowed to forget that the Protocol is a fundamental part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Every Tory candidate at the last general election stood on a manifesto promising that they already had the best possible deal. The fact that so many of them now refuse to support that deal suggests this was yet another worthless Brexit promise.

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the Learning Festival at Pitteuchar East Primary School. It was fantastic to speak to children all through the school about everything they’ve been doing in and out of class. They’re a credit to themselves and their families.

I was at a very well attended public meeting jointly organised by local Community Councils and other groups campaigning to keep the Doubledykes Right of Way open when the Levenmouth Rail Link is completed. As well as myself and local MSP Jenny Gilruth the meeting was attended by SNP, Labour and Tory councillors who all confirmed their support for the campaign. The organisers had invited Patrick Harvey MSP (the minister responsible), Fife Council and Network Rail. It was disappointing that none of them turned up. I’m hearing that councillors have asked for a report to go to the next Glenrothes Area Committee to decide what steps Fife Council should take; they’re responsible for keeping Rights of way open and for promoting access to the countryside.

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