This Thursday, voters across Scotland will go to the polls to decide who runs their local council for the next 5 years.
These are hugely important elections. Councils provide services that are so ingrained in our daily lives – your local schools, your bin collections, road maintenance and social care – that it can be too easy to take them for granted.
Here in Glasgow, what I’ve heard from so many of the people I’ve spoken to is the desire for real change in City Chambers.
Let’s be blunt – after many decades in power in Glasgow, Labour have become tired, arrogant and complacent.
In many ways, Labour in Glasgow epitomises what has gone wrong with Labour all across Scotland – a party completely out of ideas, who for too long have taken the support of people for granted.
Now more than ever, our city needs new leadership, and voting SNP on Thursday will bring about that change.
As a Glasgow MSP, and as Scotland’s First Minister, I’m well aware how important the city of Glasgow is to the whole of Scotland – a vibrant Glasgow economy does not just benefit people living here, it helps to supports the whole country as well.
That’s why, as the national government of Scotland, the SNP has made such significant investment in Glasgow.
Few people could fail to have noticed the transformative investments being made in the road and the rail network – significantly improving Glasgow’s connectivity with the rest of Scotland.
We’ve invested in cutting-edge healthcare and education facilities such as the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the fantastic new City of Glasgow College campuses.
And we supported the Commonwealth Games, which has left a lasting legacy of world-class facilities in the city.
In this council election, the SNP is not just seeking to be an administration – we aspire be a true city government, providing dynamic leadership and clear direction.
An SNP-run council will put no limits on its ambitions for Glasgow. We want our city to flourish, not just on the Scottish or the UK stage – but as one of the great cities of Europe and beyond.
The SNP manifesto is brimming with ideas to take Glasgow forward.
A huge amount of effort went into listening carefully to people across Glasgow about what they want to see for their city, as well as consultation with business, third sector organisations, trade unions and many others.
We’ll launch a new Glasgow Partnership for Economic Growth, tasked with creating secure, decently-paid jobs and ensuring our young people get the training and skills they need for the future.
We’ll will work tirelessly to eliminate the educational attainment gap in our city, with £21 million going directly into our city’s schools from the Scottish Government’s Pupil Equity Fund.
An SNP Council will work with all of the city’s housing associations to make sure that – at the very least – Glasgow builds our share of the national target of 50,000 new affordable homes, with 35,000 for social rent.
We also want to see more power handed over to communities, neighbourhoods and people, so we will support the devolution of 1 per cent of the Council’s entire budget to local level – that’s the equivalent of £1 million for every electoral ward in Glasgow.
And we’ll introduce new Neighbourhood Officers, who will oversee the cleansing and maintenance of local areas. They will be people who know the streets and public spaces they’re responsible for – and that local people will know how to contact to get things done.
I could go on all day about the SNP manifesto – having campaigned in council elections in this city for the best part of 30 years, I can honestly say that this is the most detailed blueprint for Glasgow that I’ve ever seen.
But of course, having ambitious ideas for your city doesn’t count for much if you don’t have a team that can deliver them – and the SNP is fielding an excellent team of SNP candidates, who come from all walks of life.
They are every bit as diverse as the city they hope to govern – businessmen and women, teachers, NHS workers, trade union activists, and a great blend of youth and experience.
In Susan Aitken, our city would have a formidable leader – someone who has already proven that she knows how to get things done, and has been hugely effective at holding the current Labour administration to account.
We have candidates with direct experience of using Glasgow’s services, such as Michelle Ferns – a carer for her disabled child who will work tirelessly for carers and people with disabilities.
And in Roza Salih we have the first former refugee ever to seek elected office in Scotland – a truly inspirational young woman who has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of asylum seekers ever since her family first arrived here fleeing Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the Kurdish people.
This Thursday, you have a chance to shape the future of our city. Don’t waste your vote – I am asking you to vote SNP to elect councillors who will be strong voices for your community and for Glasgow.
This article originally appeared in the Evening Times