Whatever you think of those TV ads with flying models and fairy dust and imaginary penguins getting inside our heads well before Christmas – they do show the power that advertising has to get people talking about Britain’s big brands.
But what of the small businesses? Christmas is important for Marks and Spencer, Boots and Debenham’s, but even more so for our local small businesses.
For small independent retailers Christmas is vital to continuing success and they need our support.
That’s why the timing of this year’s Small Business Saturday is so important. Small Business Saturday, on December 6 (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com) is a national campaign with a local focus. It challenges all of us to see beyond the glitzy advertising and Christmas deals and give our local small businesses a visit. The initiative exists to support, inspire and promote small businesses.
We’ve heard lots about the “death of the high street”. But I think the obituary is premature, and we can put our money where our mouths are over Christmas: support our local economies, keep our local shops thriving, and maybe find a present that is more individual as a result.
And it isn’t just retail where small businesses count. Local bars, cafes, restaurants and leisure outlets are at the very heart of our communities - both in the daytime and the evening.
They are what drives our economy – employing half of all people working in the private sector.
That is why it is important to listen to them and as your local MP I always do. Last year the Federation of Small Businesses highlighted that aside from concerns on the economy as a whole, their second biggest concern was the cost of energy.
Just over a year ago Labour announced that we would freeze energy prices and reform the market if elected – and I think it is just as important now as then. Not just for households, where we see bills rising much faster than wages, but for small businesses too.
Supporting Small Business Saturday isn’t a party political issue – this campaign is supported by all parties.
Anything that can help those working 60 or 70-hour weeks, employing and training our young people, and working to turn a profit in a competitive and expensive world can only be a good thing.
That is why we should support small businesses, not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the year.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt. Rev. John Chalmers, visited Westminster last week. I always look forward to meeting the Moderator when he or she makes the annual visit.
It is a time when you feel very proud to be Scottish in the House of Commons coming as it does close to St Andrew’s Day.
The Moderator’s visit included preaching the sermon at a service in St Mary’s Undercroft, before being guest of honour at a lunch in Dover House, home to the Scotland Office. In chatting to him I found out that although his ministry has taken him all over Scotland, he went to school at Marr College in Troon.
I thought I would end with some words from the Moderator’s sermon that I for one find greatly encouraging and as I seek to carry out my duties as your MP; “I do not subscribe to the idea that people enter public life for self-aggrandisement.
“The people I know who give themselves to public life do so in order to make a difference and in order to leave the world a better place than they found it.
“But you don’t get much credit for that; instead you get brickbats and criticism for not doing enough.
“Well, today I want to root what you do in the reality of what happens at the other end of the chain when you take it upon yourselves to make sure the right resources find their way into the right places.”