New year messages: Scottish leaders focus on young people


Scotland's party leaders have issued their new year messages.

Nicola Sturgeon highlighted the Year of the Young People, saying it was important to recognise their "incredible contribution".

Ruth Davidson, of the Scottish Conservatives, said Scotland had "a lot to look forward to", including hosting the European Athletics Championships.

Scottish Labour's Richard Leonard said his party would seek changes for Scotland's poorest youngsters.

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, called for more unity following the divisive politics of recent years, and Scottish Green Party co-conveners Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie said 2018 could be a year of progress on human rights and public services.


The first minister said 2018 would see a celebration of young Scots, as she visited LGBT Youth Scotland ahead of Hogmanay celebrations.

She said: "I'm here because 2018 is Scotland's Year of Young People.

"We'll be celebrating young people, and the incredible contribution that they make to Scotland, in events the length and breadth of the country – from Shetland right down to the Scottish Borders.

"Young people have been at the heart of planning the year which – as well as being a great celebration in its own right – also symbolises our desire to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up."

She added: "In 2018 we will also take steps to strengthen young people's rights, and ensure that they have an even louder voice in decisions about their own lives."

Alongside the Year of Young People, Ms Sturgeon also looked ahead to athletics' European Championships, due to take place in Glasgow in August.

She said: "Major events make a significant contribution to our economy. We will do even more over the next year to promote economic growth, and to make Scotland a leader in new industries and new technologies.

"By investing for the future – and in particular by celebrating and supporting our young people – we're working to ensure that the years ahead are bright ones for Scotland."


Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also highlighted key events in her new year message, noting that while politics will continue, other events will "take centre stage".

She said: "2017 was another busy political year in Scotland with elections at local government and Westminster parliament level.

"The public have been patient with a politics of turmoil. But as we turn the page on the year that's past – we look forward to what's in store for us in 2018."

She paid tribute to those working over the festive period in order to allow others to have a "decent break".

"The emergency services who keep us safe," she said.

"The road gritters who stop accidents from happening in the first place and the train drivers and all night garage employees there to ensure we can get where we need to go. To them, thank you."

Ms Davidson also highlighted Glasgow hosting the European Championships, Team Scotland competing at the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast and the officially designated year of young people.

She added: "In 2018, I hope all of us will be inspired by the endeavour of our athletes, the warmth of our host city and the energy of the next generation. Scotland has a lot to look forward to."


Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard emphasised the need for more action on inequality in 2018, with the Year of the Young People offering a timely opportunity to demand change for poorer youngsters.

He said: "The coming year will see Labour push the government even harder to make those desperately needed changes and make the Parliament work in the interests of the unemployed, the dispossessed, the homeless, those struggling in poverty, and all those whose lives are currently predestined because of where they're born.

"Tackling inequality and poverty, particularly child poverty, is at the heart of Scottish Labour's mission – and should be at the heart of Scottish society too.

"That's about the development of an industrial strategy to kick start sustainable economic development. It's also about a fresh look at the distribution of wealth in Scotland which is fuelling widening inequality."

Mr Leonard also called for "a new start for the Scottish Parliament".

He added: "2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the devolution referendum, so it is time to take stock on whether it has met all the aspirations those of us who campaigned for it, set it.

"The Parliament wasn't designed as a talking shop – it was to be a place which offered the people of Scotland a different path if we felt we needed to choose one."


Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called for more unity following the divisive politics of recent years.

"Let's hunt for what we have in common and make that work rather than always dwelling on our differences," he said.

In his new year message, he added: "In 2018, it is my ambition to make sure the forces of openness and tolerance start winning the argument again."

He called for a greater focus on immigration and said bringing people from across the globe "enriches us with talented and energetic people who want to give to their new home as well as enjoy the benefits of our society".

Mr Rennie also said international aid was "our global responsibility as one of the richest nations on the planet".

He added: "We should make the case for working in alliance with our neighbours, whether that is in Britain, in Europe or across the world."


Scottish Green Party co-conveners Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie said 2018 could be a year of progress on human rights and public services.

Ms Chapman said: "In 2018 we will be ready for the birth of a new world. And we will fight to make sure that justice, solidarity and our shared environment are at the heart of that new world."

Mr Harvie added: "2018 can be a year of progress, from equality and human rights, to environmental protection; from investment in our communities and public services, to building stronger relationships with all those around the world who work for the values and vision we share."

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