All the leaders of political parties in Scotland have issued their Christmas messages.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This Christmas many of us will be looking forward to taking a break and to spending time with friends, family and loved ones.
“Many people will also take the time to help others – for example, by volunteering for charity. In doing so, they will be helping to provide things like food, support and companionship to those who need it most. That kind-heartedness and solidarity is vital throughout the year – but it is especially important at this time of year.
“And of course for many Christmas isn’t a holiday at all – for example, for the people in our NHS and indeed all of our public services. Your efforts are appreciated all through the year. But they are particularly appreciated at Christmas time.
“So this Christmas, let’s be especially thankful for those who are working on our behalf.
“If we are able to, let’s also do our own bit to spread some Christmas cheer – either by volunteering, or simply by being a good neighbour or friend.
“And wherever you are – whether you are in Scotland or further afield, whether you are with friends and family or on your own – I hope you have the best possible time over this festive period.
“I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a happy 2020.”
A Christmas message from Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw.
“It’s hard to think of a Christmas season when all of us across the UK have needed the break more acutely.
“The truth is that 2019 has been a hard year for our country. With our political system in gridlock, and public discourse too often descending into rancour and abuse, it’s felt like we’ve been living permanently under a dark cloud.
“All of us across the UK have too often focused on the differences between us, rather than on what ties us together.
“So I hope the magic of Christmas casts its spell for people this year, helping families and friends remember what it is that unites them, not divides them.
“I hope it reminds us that, despite the sound and fury of our national debate, the bonds of family, community and country are still deep and lasting.
“Yes, it’s a cliché that Christmas is the season of goodwill. But its important for all of us that we demonstrate that goodwill to each other this year and that, for a week or so, hopefully the shouting match of social media can fall silent.
“It’s also a time to thank the emergency services and the NHS who will be keeping going over the Christmas holiday should we need them. I hope they get a break with their families in due course.
“It’s also right to mention those people who will this year be supporting the homeless during the Christmas season, our religious leaders for whom this is such a busy time, and all those who are looking out for a neighbour or a friend who needs support at this time of year.
“May I wish all of you a very happy Christmas.”
In his Christmas message video launched on Christmas Eve, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:“I’d like to send Christmas greetings to all those people who are working over the festival period: hospitality workers, public service workers, emergency services workers.
“And I also want to ask people to think about their neighbours. Loneliness can be a terrible thing at Christmas. So we should look out for each other. Christmas is also a time to wish peace on earth. So I wish you all a merry Christmas, and let’s make sure we have peace on earth.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
“This has been a turbulent year in politics – at home we have seen the divisive Boris Johnson rise to power, while across the world governments have fallen and protest movements erupted.
“Amidst all of this, I am proud of the way that my party has stood for the belief that we are richer, stronger and more secure when we work together with others, whether that be Scotland in the UK or the UK in the European Union.
“We’ve held the government to account over waits for mental health services, stood up for teachers’ pay and conditions, put forward radical plans to tackle the climate emergency and fought doggedly for a People’s Vote.
“I also want to take this opportunity to thank those working in our public services. Our hardworking NHS staff who will be there for us on Christmas Day should we need it.
The police and fire service workers who never take a day off. The postal workers who make sure that Christmas arrives on time and everyone else who keeps Scotland ticking.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “As we reflect on a difficult year, I know that many people are feeling anxious about the state of our planet, and the state of our politics. It can sometimes seem that the challenges are just too big to deal with, and that those with the most power are doing the least to help.
But we must not lose sight of those who are working with such energy, creativity and urgency to make a difference. The school strikes for the climate are one great example; people with little political voice have built a movement which is making the world take notice.
“So many people spend part of their Christmas season working to help each other, whether the professionals in our NHS and emergency services, or the volunteers giving time to support people who are marginalised, excluded and voiceless.
“The festive period has always been about bringing a bit of light to the darkest time of the year, spending time with one another, sharing and giving. When we do that, we also discover our power to cooperate to make the world a better place, to light a much needed fire of resistance and bring renewed hope in the new year.
“Merry Christmas from the Scottish Greens.”