General election: We have more in common than that which divides us – Ian Murray

Dedicated council staff will keep the city moving this winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Dedicated council staff will keep the city moving this winter. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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We should celebrate the great work of our dedicated NHS staff and council workers who keep the streets clear in winter, and think about those less fortunate than ourselves, writes Ian Murray.

Today is election day.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, you have either already visited your local polling booth or are planning to head along shortly.

Polling stations across the city are open until 10pm, you don’t need your polling card or any identification. Please, whatever seat you live in, remember to vote.

I know the weather can be dreadful, but the result of this election really will shape our country for generations to come.

However, I’m not going to turn this column into a party election broadcast. On election days, we are not supposed to talk party politics. You have probably already made up your mind. And there will be no shortage of political discourse in the weeks ahead, just in case you weren’t already sick of it all.

I will give a quick shout out, though, to candidates and volunteers from all parties who have braved the dreadful weather over the past few weeks, and today will be bearing the brunt of the bitter wind and rain to campaign for what they believe in.

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I also think those who have opened their doors in the dark and cold to chat to us deserve a shout out too. If the winter election has taught us anything, it’s the importance of looking after each other and remembering that simple acts of kindness and goodwill can go a long way.

It doesn’t take much to go that extra mile and that’s something that Edinburgh Council workers do, day in and day out, to keep our great city going, no matter what the Scottish winter throws at us. Our council employees are often the unsung heroes of the winter months, gritting our roads and footpaths, clearing snow and ice, making sure our older people aren’t confined to their homes, ensuring our young people can get to school and getting working people through their daily commute with minimal disruption.

NHS staff are the very best of us

Even over Christmas they keep on working and many remain on shift ready to serve in the council’s 22 lorries primed to grit the city’s streets and 16 mini-tractors ready to treat pavements, and spreading more than 13,000 tonnes of salt stocked in preparation for frost, ice and snow.

Praise should also be given to our hard-working and dedicated NHS workers, many of whom will forego Christmas Day with their families to work in their vitally important roles. Every winter the NHS sees an increase in admissions to hospital and attendees at A&E, and these health professionals really are the very best of us – the embodiment of care and compassion, ready to serve at the drop of a hat.

But we can all do something this winter to help those less fortunate.

You can donate to Shelter or Bethany to provide a homeless person with accommodation over Christmas or donate to Social Bite to provide a Christmas dinner to those who need it. I know Hearts and Hibs are also doing an “open doors” on Christmas Day to tackle loneliness. You can knock on your elderly next-door neighbour’s door and ask if they are OK over winter; clear their path; or help tackle loneliness and isolation by simply stopping by and having a conversation and a cup of tea. Maybe even invite them for Christmas lunch.

There really is no better way to get into the festive spirit than doing a little something extra for someone who needs it.

So, whether it’s our public-sector workers, those that keep us safe, healthy and warm this festive season, or making sure your elderly neighbours are well, do a little act of kindness as it will mean a lot to them.

Politics may divide us, but at this time of year it’s important to remember that we have much more in common than that which divides us.

Thank you to all who go above and beyond at this time of year.

Happy voting.

Ian Murray is the Labour candidate for Edinburgh South