“Few are the choices we are given; the sands of time run quickly by.”
Familiar words from a Carpenters’ song and startlingly appropriate as we enter another year, and wonder how the last one went past so quickly. But let’s not dwell on history: what of the future?
For most of us the important things in life are our family, our health and our economic situation. What choices do we actually have in 2014?
With regard to our family I suspect our choices mostly entail how we use our time – what our priorities are. For some it will be the need to earn our living which separates us. For others it will be a conscious or unconscious decision about who is important to us.
We can do a great deal to protect and improve our health. It remains the case that smoking and being overweight are by far the most serious health risks. The balance of what we eat and how much exercise we take is very largely in our own hands, and smokers can quit.
Of course when ill health does strike then we are served by a wonderful health service, run in Scotland by Scots: free at the point of need.
Lastly the economy. After the past few years of recession there is every prospect of a genuine improvement in the national economic outlook, though of course we have been to some extent protected from the worst by Aberdeen’s strong oil and gas businesses. But for those out of work, and especially those unable to work the prospect is not so good with a Westminster government determined to reduce welfare payments regardless of the consequences.
Why is it that we have food banks in Scotland in 2014? Why is it that we spend vast sums on nuclear weapons? Do we need to continue to be ruled from Westminster by politicians who do not represent us, and do not share our priorities?
Well in 2014 we are given a choice, and we will have the opportunity to make a constitutional change though the ballot box.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.