Scotland politics

Leaders pay tribute to festive workers

Nicola Sturgeon, Willie Rennie, Richard Leonard and Ruth Davidson Image copyright Getty/PA/Reuters

Scotland's political leaders have paid tribute to people working over the holidays in their Christmas messages.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited a community cafe in Glasgow and hailed those "thinking about and helping others".

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson thanked armed forces personnel and organisations like the Samaritans.

Labour's Richard Leonard asked people to "spare a thought" for those who cannot spend Christmas with loved ones.

And Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said his party had "turned a corner" in 2017.

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon helped prepare a Christmas dinner at a community cafe in Glasgow

During a visit to Woodlands Community Cafe, the first minister paid tribute to volunteers who give up their own time to help other people.

She said: "This cafe, and the volunteers here, are among thousands of organisations and individuals throughout Scotland who do so much for our local communities - not just at Christmas, but all throughout the year. They exemplify the solidarity and compassion which is so important to our society.

"I also know that for many people - for example workers in our emergency services, our health service and in our armed forces - Christmas isn't a holiday at all. Your hard work is appreciated all the year round, but is particularly valued at Christmas time.

"So over this festive period, let's thank those who are working so hard on our behalf. And let's also - like the people here at Woodlands - do our bit to help others, and to spread some Christmas cheer."

Ruth Davidson gave a special mention to people who lost a loved one over the last year.

"The first Christmas without a spouse, sibling, child, parent or friend is always difficult and I hope they find comfort in the company of loved ones," she said.

"For many of us, Christmas is one of the few moments of the year when we get a chance to disengage from work and take a step back for a few days.

"After a year in which we've often seen more heat than light in our public debate, I hope the holiday season will provide us with a moment to remember what we have in common."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The party leaders got into the festive spirit for Christmas jumper day earlier this month

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he hoped that the homeless have shelter and respite from the cold and those who rely on food banks were able to eat well over Christmas.

"Those of us who are fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas with our loved ones should spare a thought for those who are not so lucky," he added.

"We should think of those who cannot take time off, those who work in our emergency services over Christmas, those who devote their lives to public service, to taking care of us all, from hospitality workers to nurses, firefighters and all emergency workers, to the people keeping the lights on.

"And we should think of those refugees who have come to Scotland for sanctuary and to build a new life, and all those who are fighting to survive in too many countries riven with war or internal unrest."

Meanwhile Willie Rennie was optimistic about the future of the Scottish Liberal Democrats after success in 2017.

"We started winning elections again with more MPs and in charge of more councils," he said. "I believe that winning is not just good for the Liberal Democrats but is also good for the country.

"It means that we have moderate, outward looking, optimistic voices making the case for change and challenging authority and government.

"With a bigger team of Liberal Democrats we can stand up for people who benefit from the police service, mental health services, education services and a stronger economy."

The Scottish Green Party is expected to issue its leaders' message at New Year.