Scotland politics

Leaders urge Scots to think of others in Christmas greetings

Sturgeon Image copyright Scottish Government
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon recorded her Christmas message at a party in Alness

Scotland's political leaders have urged people to think of others this Christmas in their festive messages.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was a time to give "comfort and support" to those who need it.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson paid tribute to those working over Christmas while Labour's Kezia Dugdale called on people to "heal divisions".

Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary David Mundell paid tribute to Scottish service personnel stationed overseas.

Ms Sturgeon, who recorded a video message at a party in Alness, said Christmas was about "spending time with those we love".

She said: "This Christmas, I would encourage everyone to take the time to check on a friend or neighbour who is on their own. It's important to spend some time over the next few weeks giving comfort, companionship and support to those who need it.

"Scotland has a proud reputation as a caring country and I want to thank everyone in the last year who has extended a warm welcome to those seeking refuge and comfort here.

"So, wherever you might be celebrating Christmas, in Scotland or overseas, at work or at home, I wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas."

'Overdue thank-you'

Ms Sturgeon also highlighted people who work "in the service of others" over Christmas, and this was echoed by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson said: "I'd like to single out one particular group of people this Christmas - and that's those people who are going to be working over the Christmas weekend.

"First and foremost that's the NHS staff, police and emergency services who give up time with their own families in order to make sure ours are safe.

"But it's also the assistant at the 24-hour petrol station, the pot washer in the hotel kitchen, and the delivery worker on night shift who are out there this weekend, earning a living, keeping the country ticking over. Doing their jobs so we can enjoy our break.

"Often the work they do goes unnoticed or is taken for granted. Perhaps it's only at Christmas and New Year that the rest of us really see it. So it's time for a very overdue thank-you."

Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption Scottish Secretary David Mundell paid tribute to Scottish servicemen and women stationed abroad over Christmas

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said people should "cherish these days of peace and calm" during a period of "joy and celebration".

She said: "Christmas is also a chance to reflect on where we are as a nation. The constitution remains the defining issue in our politics and the divisions of recent years still remain.

"When our country is facing so many major challenges, now more than ever we need to unite and work together.

"My hope is that by next Christmas we will be more united as a nation, and can leave the arguments of the past behind us."

'Huge tribute'

Service personnel deployed abroad also sent home Christmas messages to their friends and families.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "Servicemen and women from across Scotland are serving away from their families this Christmas in their endeavours to protect us - from those in our Army serving in the Middle East or the RAF troops ready for action in Cyprus, to all those aboard Royal Navy vessels from the Gulf to the South Atlantic or those on standby to scramble and protect our airspace.

"I pay a huge tribute to all those serving our country and keeping us safe at this time of year and throughout the year."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie also paid tribute to people working over Christmas, saying: "Our thanks must go out to those who work over Christmas including the emergency services who keep us safe.

"Our thoughts are with those who are unwell, alone or struggling. And our appreciation is with those who come to their aid.

"However, there is little doubt we are in a more uncertain and dark place in global affairs. The election of President Trump and the decision to sever links with our friends in Europe have taken our society in the wrong direction.

"With attacks in Turkey, the conflict in Yemen, and the war in Syria with its awful reports from Aleppo, it is imperative we do not turn our backs no matter how difficult the challenge."

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