IN my advancing years I have finally abandoned the pointless exercise of making New Year resolutions.
Instead, here are just a few of my hopes and wishes for the coming year.
At Westminster, I want the Coalition Government to stop claiming that severe austerity and cutting social benefits is the only way to end the current recession. The Government must realise that the only way to encourage economic growth is to support Britain's manufacturing and construction industries by offering offer real financial help and incentives. I also hope that the Government will find a way to make individuals and multi-national companies contribute by paying a fair proportion of taxes on their UK income and profits.
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I hope the Better Together campaign will abandon its relentless negativity and scare-mongering about Scottish independence, and come up with at least one or two convincing reasons why we are indeed "better together" as it claims. (Retaining all the oil revenues for the London Treasury and keeping Trident on the Clyde will not persuade most Scots voters.)
At Holyrood I urge the Presiding Officer to get a grip of First Minister's Questions, and put a stop to the mini-speeches, personal insults and playground squabbles that are now the norm. Party leaders must understand that these are no substitute for reasoned opposition and political debate, and are making our Parliament a laughing stock.
The SNP Government's White Paper, when it finally appears, must be a convincing document and a watershed in the independence debate. I hope the London-based print and broadcast media will provide informed, balanced and impartial commentary rather than biased and misleading banner headlines and selective quotes.
In the wider world, I pray that President Obama will finally use his powerful influence to stop the illegal Israeli attacks and occupation of Palestinian land and the firing of rockets into Israel, and bring the two sides to the table in meaningful negotiations towards a two-nation settlement. I hope all British forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan even earlier than planned, and that democratic governments will eventually be restored in war-torn nations across the Middle East without further military intervention.
Finally, in Scottish domestic sport, I hope that both the SFA and SRU will appoint Scots-born managers and they will inspire our national teams to start winning again and regain their pride. And of course I want Andy Murray to win Wimbledon, a Scot to lift the Open golf Claret Jug, and above all Partick Thistle at last to gain promotion.
Are all these hopes and aspirations too ambitious for 2013? I hope not.
Iain AD Mann,
7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.