Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Festive warnings from politicians

Alex Salmond
Scotland's political leaders are warning of a tough year to come

First Minister Alex Salmond has warned that Scotland faces "difficult times ahead".

In his Christmas message, he insisted the Scottish Government was doing everything in its power to help people in the wake of the economic downturn.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray also said there were tough times ahead for the country.

But he added: "With the right spirit, right attitude and right policies we can get through 2009 together."

Both leaders focussed on the less fortunate this Christmas.

Mr Salmond said: "As we near the end of another year, we can look back on 12 months that have brought special challenges for Scotland.

"But this is, more than any other time of year, a moment when we should also pause to think of those who are perhaps less fortunate than ourselves.

"That fine Scottish tradition of protecting the common weal and looking out for one another is something that marks us out as a nation."

Mr Gray was making his first Christmas message since becoming Labour's Holyrood leader.

He echoed Mr Salmond's theme, saying many people may be facing the new year with "some apprehension".

He said: "The season of goodwill is not only a time for family and friends.

"It is also a time to look out for those less fortunate: the poor, the sick, the elderly, the homeless and people with disabilities.

"Labour's core values focus on exactly this. We believe in working together for a caring, fair society where we look out for each other, protect the vulnerable, work towards ending child poverty and give a hand up to those who need it."

Scottish Conservative leader, Annabel Goldie said: "On behalf of the Scottish Conservatives I wish a very happy Christmas to you and yours. I hope that this is a time of peace and tranquillity amidst the daily turmoil of everyday life."

Both Miss Goldie and Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Tavish Scott are to issue messages at New Year.

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