AND that’s it folks! 2017 has officially come to a close and with it, we end one of the most turbulent and exciting years we’ve experienced across the UK. 

To me it felt like a non-stop year of political mayhem — we had the fallout from the referendum vote, followed by local elections and a snap General Election to boot.

2017 was special to the Scottish Conservatives, it was the first time since 1997 that our MPs outnumbered pandas in Edinburgh Zoo. It was a 20-year struggle, but we finally made a breakthrough and sent 13 fantastic MPs to represent Scotland’s interest in Westminster.

But as 2017 was a success for us, it was a failure for the Scottish Nationalists. They lost a third of their MPs and half a million votes. Their independence plans were left in tatters, as was Nicola Sturgeon’s authority. It’s clear that the strong opposition we provide every week is having its impact on this SNP government.

We have a lot to be thankful for in 2017, but there is still a lot to do.

We’ll be standing up for Greenock folk in the Scottish Parliament and opposing Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hike taxes on 16,000 people across Inverclyde. I believe that these tax rises are unfair and are nothing more than hardworking Greenock families being made to bail out the SNP after a decade of failing to grow the economy.

So, there are political challenges facing us ahead, but as we mark the start of the new year it is only right that we look back at the one just gone.

2017 was a challenging year for Britain. We saw a number of heinous acts of terrorism on our island which claimed the lives of our brothers and sisters across the United Kingdom, including many children. When faced with these atrocities we must stand firm and strengthen our resolve. I’m proud of the character and resilience everybody across the country showed in the face of terrorism.

When confronted with terror we should come together and show that we will now be cowed by these barbaric acts. After all, these is more that unites us on this island than divides us.

Before I close my column, I’d like to pay tribute to those who made this festive period possible.

The emergency services who keep us safe, the road gritters who stop accidents from happening in the first place and the train drivers and all-night garage employees there to ensure we can get where we need to go.

We should remember these people who work tirelessly so we can safely enjoy the festive period.

I offer them my thanks for their efforts.

I wish everybody in Inverclyde a very happy new year and I look forward to hitting the ground running!