Thursday, February 26th, 2015
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, being negotiated behind closed doors by the EU and US, aims to remove barriers to multinational corporations and could enable them to sue governments over profits. SNP ministers support the principle of the deal, as does Labour.
A leaked draft of what the EU wants excluded from the deal has been published by the BBC.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“While some want to quibble over the wording, that is a distraction compared to the broader purpose of the deal. Greens have consistently opposed this blatant corporate power grab. It’s undemocratic and threatens not just our NHS but puts at risk jobs and wages throughout our economy.
“Promoters of TTIP claim it will produce jobs and growth, but when questioned about who will benefit they resort to a belief in workers eventually sharing the profits from increased trade. We need to shut the door to this deal, and focus instead on strong public services and meaningful support for Scotland’s small and medium sized businesses.”
Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Scottish Green MSPs, who gathered almost 6,000 signatures on a petition calling on the UK Government to halt licenses for fracking in Scotland, are welcoming comments from the UK Government that it will suspend the current licensing round.
UK energy minister Matt Hancock is quoted in today’s Scotsman saying the UK Government agrees “no new licences be awarded in Scotland as part of the 14th licensing round”.
Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:
“Scottish Greens have gained huge public support for our principled stance on fracking, and in the aftermath of the Smith Commission we urged the UK Government to halt the imminent licensing of fracking as this power is due to be devolved.
“Though it’s taken a lot of work to drag this decision out of the UK Government, I’m very glad that we’ve finally achieved a common sense position allowing these decisions to be taken here in Scotland. It also gives worried communities a further breathing space but it is important than we remain ready to fight any fracking proposals. The Scottish Government’s moratorium is only temporary and does not yet apply to already licensed proposals for underground coal gasification in areas like the Firth of Forth.”
Scottish Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone have been campaigning against unconventional gas extraction since the 2011 election. Leading Holyrood’s first debate on the issue last year, they proposed a ban. All other parties voted against it.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Ahead of an energy debate at Holyrood today, the Greens say that the focus should be on securing a new, clean energy system rather than on keeping one of Europe’s most polluting power stations, Longannet, in operation.
The Greens’ amendment to today’s Conservative-led debate sets out their alternative for a modern energy system based on:
– a greater focus on energy efficiency and demand reduction
– increased energy storage
– a new North Sea transmission grid
– low-carbon energy generation with greater community ownership
The Greens are also welcoming the announcement of the budget for Wave Energy Scotland, the body set up in the wake of the collapse of leading Scottish company Pelamis.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP said:
“It is inevitable that Longannet will have to close, both because of its age and because of our critically important climate change commitments. Politicians to need be honest with those workers and communities affected and set out a plan for creating secure jobs from new energy opportunities.
“Greens have a plan for a clean and modern energy system, but it needs both the UK and Scottish Government to focus far more on reducing energy use, backing the full range of renewables, and stop trying to prop up our fossil fuel economy.
“It’s good to finally get some detail about Government support for wave energy, but Ministers must stop sending mixed messages about public investment. Globally there is a gigantic financial prize to be won if we can get marine technology right so let’s stop the subsidies for fossil fuels and ramp up green investment.”
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, is renewing calls for reform of RBS as a new report backs the idea of turning the publicly-owned bank into a network of local banks to protect jobs and rebalance the UK economy away from London.
Today’s report from the New Economics Foundation looks at public savings banks in Germany and Switzerland, estimating that the UK economy would have benefited by billions if a similar approach had been taken here.
The Green MSPs have previously called on the Scottish Government to negotiate the transfer of the RBS Scottish operations to create a network of locally-governed banks for Scotland’s cities and regions.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“The public owns RBS so we should be putting it to good use rather than trying to return it to the free market system that took us to the brink. In recent years thousands of staff have paid the price while small and medium sized businesses with potential have access to finance restricted.
“It’s clear we need a cultural shift in banking towards a more diverse sector. Today’s report from NEF underlines how Germany’s successful network of locally-accountable banks are a model we should be trying to copy.”
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament expressing deep concerns at reports that the Scottish Government is preparing to award a £350million contract to a private water company for supply of services to the public sector.
At the moment the billing and servicing of water for council buildings, hospitals, universities, prisons and the Scottish Parliament is carried out by Edinburgh-based Business Stream, which is 100 per cent owned by publicly-owned Scottish Water.
Alison Johnstone said:
“It is deeply concerning that the Scottish Government appears to be about to award this massive contract, worth £350million over 3 years, to Anglian Water, so any profits will flow out of Scottish economy. At the moment the billing and servicing of water for council buildings, hospitals, universities, prisons and the Scottish Parliament is carried out by Business Stream, so any profits come back to publicly-owned Scottish Water.
“Anglian are owned by a consortium called Osprey, made up of asset and pension managers in Canada and Australia. Scotland’s water is a great asset, as are the skills of the industry, and we should be harnessing these for the public good, not lining shareholders’ pockets.”
The text of the motion submitted by Alison reads:
That the Parliament is appalled by reports that Scottish Ministers’ promises to keep Scottish Water in public hands and a “public sector success story” may be undermined by the award of a major £350 million public sector contract to private sector company Anglian Water; notes that the current contract to supply mains water and waste water services to more than 100 public sector organisations is delivered by Business Stream, a company 100% owned by Scottish Water and which ploughs profits back into the public sector; further notes that calculations by Corporate Watch show that Anglian paid £151 million to its private owners but just £1 million in tax in 2012 after an operating profit of £363 million, and is accused of avoiding millions in tax by routing profits through tax havens by way of taking on high-interest loans from their owners through the Channel Islands stock exchange; believes that water services should be in public hands and that public contracts should benefit the common good not corporate profit.
Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
The Scottish Greens today (22 Feb) confirmed that they will stand candidates in 32 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster constituencies – more than ever before – with 40 per cent of candidates women.
It follows a surge in membership to over 8,500 and a steady rise in the polls with the recent TNS Scottish survey putting the Greens on 6 per cent, two points ahead of the Libdems. The same poll revealed that almost of a quarter of 18 to 34 year olds intend to vote for the Scottish Greens.
Edinburgh East is the top target constituency with former university rector Peter McColl the party’s candidate. Edinburgh has a strong Green activist base, and has had MSPs since 1999 and councillors since 2007.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:
“Other parties are tying themselves in knots with messages about the sort of tactical voting that represents the politics of old. With our biggest slate of candidates, Scots will have an unrivalled opportunity to vote for the bold and positive politics that only Greens represent.
“Our candidates are already out and about engaging with voters on our ideas for protecting public services, reforming democracy and tackling inequality. With new members joining all the time we are determined to maintain the momentum.”
Peter McColl, Scottish Green candidate for Edinburgh East, said:
“Greens are clearly in the running as we head into an election in which everything is up for grabs. We know from speaking to our local communities that voters are looking for candidates they can believe in.
“Our policies on raising the minimum wage to £10 a hour by 2020, renationalising the railways and ending austerity have huge appeal, and are vital to rebalancing our economy and our society.”
The full list of Scottish Green party candidates:
Aberdeen North, Tom Bates
Aberdeen South, Dan Yeats
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Richard Openshaw
Central Ayrshire, Veronika Tudhope
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, Pauline Stewart
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, Jody Jamieson
East Dunbartonshire, Ross Greer
Dundee East, Helen Grayshan
Dundee West, Pauline Hinchion
Angus, David Mumford
East Lothian, Jason Rose
Edinburgh North and Leith, Sarah Beattie-Smith
Edinburgh West, Pat Black
Edinburgh East, Peter McColl
Edinburgh South, Phyl Meyer
Edinburgh South West, Richard Doherty
Dunfermline and west Fife, Lewis Campbell
North East Fife, Andy Collins
Glasgow Central, Cass MacGregor
Glasgow North-west, Moira Crawford
Glasgow North, Martin Bartos
Glasgow South, Alastair Whitelaw
Glasgow North East, Zara Kitson
Glasgow East, Kim Long
Glasgow South West, Sean Templeton
Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Ryan Morrison
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Isla O’Reilly
Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Anne Thomas
Moray, James Mackessack-Leitch
Midlothian, Ian Baxter
North Perthshire, Louise Ramsay
Stirling, Mark Ruskell
Thursday, February 19th, 2015
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, is renewing her call for the Scottish Government to toughen its stance on TTIP, the controversial EU-US trade deal which threatens jobs, wages and food standards.
SNP ministers support the principle of the deal, as does Labour. It aims to remove barriers to multinational corporations and could enable them to sue governments over profits.
UK trade minister Lord Livingston gives evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s European committee today (19 Feb), while a protest will take place outside Holyrood by campaigners concerned at the threat to the NHS from TTIP. Alison Johnstone has signed the People’s NHS pledge calling for the NHS to be exempted from any deal.
Lord Livingston has said the UK Government is “totally committed” to TTIP, and that “the benefit to industry is enormous”. However, a range of charities and unions have warned against the deal, with Global Justice Now warning of the threat to local employment and public health.
Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“TTIP is a corporate power grab being negotiated in secret, threatening our NHS and putting at risk jobs and wages. Although Scottish ministers say they oppose the inclusion of the health service in TTIP they support the principle of the deal.
“While it’s perhaps no surprise that the UK Coalition Government is prepared to roll out the red carpet for big business, the mixed position of the Scottish Government is causing serious concern among people I’ve spoken to in recent months. There’s a real danger that this deal could make it easier for corporations to drive wages down and make employment even less secure. It could also weaken protections against the imports of GM foods and hormone-produced meat.
“The mounting public concern cannot be ignored.”
Friday, February 6th, 2015
Responding to a Federation of Small Businesses report showing that half of all Scottish businesses are based in the home, Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“This report shows how important small businesses are to the strength and diversity of our local economies. 94 per cent of Scottish private sector businesses have fewer than 10 employees, and it makes sense to help them grow and encourage new ones to follow.
“Access to finance and broadband must be addressed; another measure I’d like to see is a single-point regulator for very small enterprises in recognition of their scale. Instead of featherbedding multinationals who don’t pay their taxes, let’s unleash Scotland’s potential and support locally-owned, sustainable businesses.”
Thursday, February 5th, 2015
In a high profile speech at the Royal Society of Edinburgh tonight (Thu 5 Feb) Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, will ask “Whatever happened to the politics of hope?”
At the event, organised by the David Hume Institute, Mr Harvie will argue that the victory in Greece for Syriza, an anti-austerity coalition which includes Greens, and the demise of two-party politics in the UK, shows a growing public appetite for radical policies.
It comes as the Scottish Greens enjoy a membership surge, polling putting them ahead of the Libdems across the UK and at Holyrood, and the Ashcroft poll for Glasgow North putting Greens on 10 per cent. The consistent campaigning by Greens on fracking has also led to Labour and the SNP recently adopting new positions on the issue.
“In 2014 Scotland remembered that politics isn’t supposed to be something that’s done to us. It’s something we must take part in together.
“Since then we’ve seen mounting hard evidence of the connections between the social, economic and ecological crises we’re living through, but we’ve also seen a growing recognition that politics in the UK has broken out beyond the three familiar variants on a theme, and most recently we’ve seen the victory of Syriza in Greece. Was there ever a more important time to begin charting a new path?”
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Scottish Green MSPs today welcomed moves by the Scottish Government to increase spending on energy efficiency and on cycling and walking infrastructure but warned that the 2015-16 budget still falls short.
During discussions with ministers over the 2015-16 budget, the Greens urged a greater focus on insulating homes and sustainable travel, as well as funding for local authorities, public sector pay and wave energy.
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, said:
“Increasing investment in fuel poverty measures by £20million is a welcome step but is still below what’s really required. 40 per cent of Scottish households – at 940,000 a record number – are suffering. We must ramp up our efforts to eradicate this national scandal.
“It’s also disappointing that the Scottish Government continues to keep local authorities in an armlock on raising revenue, and that the public sector pay freeze is set to stay.”
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“The voices calling for serious investment in cycling and walking infrastructure have been growing louder and louder, and the announcement of almost £4million is a small step forward when we really need a giant leap. The government’s transport priorities will continue to result in congestion, climate emissions and air pollution.
“I will continue to keep up the pressure on ministers to prioritise preventative spending. By making cycling and walking an easier option we can ease the strain on our health budget.”