Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
“The turn of the year is a time of renewal, of looking ahead to the year to come - but it’s also a time to reflect on the year that’s just passed.
“It’s hard to imagine that at this time last year, barely anyone had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine.
“It makes it all the more astonishing then that most people have now received their third booster dose. That’s miraculous. I want to thank all of the vaccinators around our country for their efforts. It’s meant that 2021 has allowed us to see real progress both in Scotland and across the world in our fight against the pandemic and allowed us to get back to some kind of normality.
“The emergence of Omicron feels like a setback, but we are better prepared now than we’ve ever been to face the challenges it presents. It should remind us however, that for as long as big parts of the world remain unvaccinated then the emergence of new variants will keep happening. It’s wrong that rich countries should stockpile vaccine supplies we will never use while poorer countries go without. That needs to change.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to work across party lines to help find our way out of this pandemic, but where it matters, we will challenge the government too. It’s vital for opposition parties to challenge the government when they are suspending rights and freedoms, if there is not a demonstrable need to do so. It’s why we fought so hard to protect your right to medical privacy. It’s also why we’re trying to stop the SNP government from keeping forever the sweeping emergency covid powers they were given at the start of the pandemic.
“I’ve also been working every day to get the government to do more for the 100,000 Scots who are suffering from long Covid. This could be the biggest mass disabling event since the world wars and yet sufferers are getting very little from the SNP.
“Our role as an opposition party is to offer solutions as much as criticism and that’s what I’ve tried to do in my first months as party leader. I want to offer new hope to our nation on the climate emergency, on hospital waiting times, for young people and for business. I got into politics to make a difference, not just to complain. That’s why my new year’s resolution is to find consensus where I can, and to offer constructive criticism where I can’t.
“New hope is very much on the horizon; we just need to work together to get there. I hope you have a very happy new year.”