SPYING: HARVIE DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM UK MINISTERS

Friday, July 24th, 2015

 

Scottish Greens are demanding answers from UK ministers following the discovery that security service guidelines have been changed to allow MSPs’ communications to be spied on.PH thumbnail

The UK’s electronic eavesdropping agency had constrained spies from tapping MSPs’ phones or hacking their emails but this rule was dropped in March.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“The revelation that the UK intelligence services have changed their guidelines to allow spying on MSPs’ communications is deeply disturbing and we must have a statement from ministers explaining the change. The privacy of parliamentary communications is a vital tool to protect the public interest.

“My colleague John Finnie MSP intends to write to the convener of Holyrood’s justice committee, suggesting that the Home Secretary is called to give evidence about the situation.

“It’s also a concern that it took almost a year of digging by the Record to bring this information to light when there is a clear public interest. Our digital age is an exciting time but there is clearly a need for stronger limits on surveillance by the state.”

 

Scandal of Brit spooks spying on MSPs as GCHQ rewrite rules to pry on Holyrood (Daily Record)

 

My colleague John Finnie MSP intends to write to the convener of Holyrood's justice committee, suggesting that the Home Secretary is called to give evidence about the situation.
Patrick Harvie MSP

STOP AND SEARCH: FINNIE WELCOMES UN REPORT

Friday, July 24th, 2015

 

Scottish Greens are welcoming a report from the UN Human Rights Committee which criticises the scale of stop and search by Police Scotland.

The committee calls for the repeal of non-statutory stop and search powers in Scotland.John Finnie Takes to the Stage

John Finnie, Independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, justice committee member and Scottish Green MSP candidate for 2016, said:

“Prior to the advent of the single police service, the common law and statutory powers of stop and search generally worked well across Scotland. The understandable public outcry about stop and search, reflected in the comments in this measured UN Human Rights Committee Report, was the result of Police Scotland’s decision to use this sensitive tactic on an unprecedented industrial scale.

“This ‘disproportionate use’ as the report puts it largely ignored the well understood police powers and rather relied on the highly dubious tactic of so-called ‘consensual’ searches. Many of those subjected to these ‘consensual’ searches were minors who were clearly unable to give the necessary informed consent.

“The Scottish Green Party welcomed the Government’s stop and search review being undertaken by John Scott QC, the respected human rights lawyer. Whilst in not wishing to pre-empt the outcome of that review, we believe that the only acceptable way forward is to ensure all stop and search would require to be on done a statutory footing.

“We trust Scotland’s authorities will note and respond positively to this important report.”

 

UN Human Rights Committee report

 

The understandable public outcry about stop and search, reflected in the comments in this measured UN Human Rights Committee Report, was the result of Police Scotland's decision to use this sensitive tactic on an unprecedented industrial scale.
John Finnie

CLIMATE: HARVIE URGES MINISTERS TO LISTEN TO SCIENTISTS' PLEA

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, is urging the Scottish Government to adopt bold policies for a low-carbon economy in response to today’s communique from leading scientists calling for action on climate change.

Jobs Rich Economy

An unprecedented coalition of eminent UK bodies says governments must act to avert the worst impacts of climate change, while seizing economic opportunities and protecting public health.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Scotland is in an amazing position to show real leadership on this issue with our abundant renewable resources but we have yet to see the step-change required in our transport, our housing and our land use. The Scottish Government, which has missed the first four years of climate change targets, has the opportunity to rebuild its credibility by showing it is serious about the bold policies required to lead the way.

“A low carbon economy is good for jobs and good for public health. Scottish ministers can help influence a global deal at the Paris summit at the end of this year by moving faster and going further on a transition here at home. Today’s call from the scientific community underlines the need for effective policies and international commitment.”

 

UK academics call for strong action on climate change at Paris summit (Carbon Brief)

Scottish ministers can help influence a global deal at the Paris summit at the end of this year by moving faster and going further on a transition here at home.
Patrick Harvie MSP

LGBT PREJUDICE: HARVIE COMMENTS ON EQUALITY NETWORK REPORT

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, is urging the Scottish Government to act on the findings of the Equality Network report showing LGBT people in Scotland continue to face discrimination.Patrick looking up reduced size

Incidents reported ranged from homophobic comments to physical attacks.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“This report shows that while Scotland has clearly made progress there are still challenges in ensuring LGBT people have a genuinely equal experience of life. Some of the comments suggest we need to step up efforts to actively challenge discrimination in workplaces, colleges and universities and to ensure that the best practice becomes normal practice everywhere.

“I welcome the idea of the Scottish Government publishing an equality and human rights strategy to measure progress, and I would like to see ministers agree to the recommendation of a review of the operation of the Hate Crime legislation now it has been place for five years.”

 

Scottish LGBT Equality Report

I welcome the idea of the Scottish Government publishing an equality and human rights strategy to measure progress, and I would like to see ministers agree to the recommendation of a review of the operation of the Hate Crime legislation now it has been place for five years.
Patrick Harvie MSP

CHILDCARE: JOHNSTONE WELCOMES CALL FOR BOLD ACTION

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, is welcoming the call from charities including Barnardo’s and Children 1st for co-operation across the political spectrum to bring about flexible childcare.aj at conf for web

Last month Alison welcomed the findings of the Commission for Childcare Reform, which called for radical action.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“It is essential we keep childcare high on the political agenda as Scotland’s current system is patchy, inflexible, and one of the most expensive in Europe. By challenging the Scottish Government to be bolder, and by working constructively with others at Holyrood I am sure we can make progress to improve the situation.

“We must remember at the centre of this are children, so we need to invest in high quality training and properly paid staff to deliver an experience that really benefits the child. The benefits for parents in terms of access to employment and education are well understood.

“As well as finding common ground at a political level we must strive for a joined up approach across local, Scottish and UK Governments.”

 

Letter in today’s Herald from children’s charities, calling for “co-operation across the political spectrum”

We must remember at the centre of this are children, so we need to invest in high quality training and properly paid staff to deliver an experience that really benefits the child.
Alison Johnstone MSP

A&E WAITING TIMES: JOHNSTONE QUESTIONS E-R-I SLIPPAGE

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, is questioning the latest waiting time figures for Accident and Emergency departments as they show that the proportion of people waiting more than four hours to be seen at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has fallen to 10 per cent below the national target.aj at conf for web

Health bosses are supposed to ensure that 98 per cent of people who attend A&E are seen within four hours.

According to the latest weekly statistics, only 88.3 per cent of people were seen within 4 hours at ERI A&E. This is a drop from 93.8 per cent the previous week and 93.7 per cent when weekly figures began being published in February. It is also lower than the current Scottish average of 94.6 per cent and the Lothian health board average of 90.9 per cent.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“We need to understand the reasons for this. Is it due to staff shortages or lack of capacity, or do the figures tell us that other parts of the health service, like GP practices, are nearing crisis? We also need to invest properly in the integration of health and social care if we are ever to achieve these targets.”

 

Emergency Department Activity (NHS Performs)

Health chiefs apologise for long A&E waiting times at Royal Infirmary (STV, May 2014)

We need to invest properly in the integration of health and social care if we are ever to achieve these targets.
Alison Johnstone MSP

CALMAC: GREER WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC SECTOR STATUS

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ lead candidate for West of Scotland in 2016, today welcomed an opinion poll showing support for keeping ferry services in the public sector.cropped headshot 1

Almost two-thirds of Scottish voters say Caledonian MacBrayne services should remain in public hands. The poll, by Survation, also says almost six out of 10 people support the right of CalMac staff to take industrial action over staffing levels, jobs and pensions.

A tendering process is underway that could see routes change hands from the publicly-owned company to private firm Serco.

Ross Greer said:

“Scottish Greens support Calmac workers and their union, who are rightly concerned for jobs and conditions, and the vital public service they provide to coastal and island communities. This opinion poll underlines the strength of public feeling.

“It is welcome to hear that the tendering process has been delayed to allow further negotiation on key issues. We will continue to press the Scottish Government to ensure that workers and local communities are given the reassurances they deserve.”

 

 

We will continue to press the Scottish Government to ensure that workers and local communities are given the reassurances they deserve.
Ross Greer

SCOTTISH GREENS POLLING STRONGLY FOR 2016

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Scottish Greens are welcoming yet another Holyrood poll suggesting the party is on course to secure a much bigger group of MSPs in the 2016 election.Alison small pic

The Survation survey has the Scottish Greens on 11 per cent on the regional vote, up from the 10 per cent recorded by TNS in early June, and 10 per cent recorded by Survation in April.

Polling for next year’s Holyrood election has consistently put the Greens on between 8 and 13 per cent on the regional vote, suggesting Green MSPs will be elected across each of the 8 regions.

The party, whose membership now numbers 9,000, has already selected its lead candidates for all 8 regions, including MSPs Patrick Harvie (Glasgow), Alison Johnstone (Lothian) and John Finnie (Highlands and Islands), and Councillor Mark Ruskell (Mid-Scotland and Fife). Patrick Harvie will also contest Glasgow Kelvin constituency.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“With our surging, enthusiastic membership and great candidates in place we are determined to deliver our best ever result at Holyrood. Polling isn’t a prediction but given the consistent numbers we’re seeing, there’s a clear opportunity to elect many more Green MSPs to represent Scotland’s communities.

“The Scottish Parliament needs a main opposition party that is constructive yet challenging. The Scottish Greens have been a clear voice on so many issues, from the economy to local democracy and from football club ownership to fracking. We are ready to step up to a bigger role.”

 

Scottish Greens’ regional candidates for 2016

 

The Scottish Parliament needs a main opposition party that is constructive yet challenging.
Alison Johnstone MSP

HARVIE: EMERGENCY BUDGET AN ATTACK ON THE VULNERABLE

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Scottish Green Party Co-convenor, Patrick Harvie MSP, has slammed today’s emergency budget after Chancellor George Osborne announced details including cuts to welfare, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, and a focus on increased defence spending year-on-year.

Seen in isolation a mandatory living wage will benefit many, but Greens pointed to the welfare cuts which will leave people in working poverty no better off, and to corporate tax cuts which simply represent a different way of subsiding the wage bill of big business.

Conservatives plan to raise the inheritance tax threshold for the very wealthy, while cutting the household benefit cap – in spite of warnings that more than 40,000 children could be plunged into poverty as a result, with thousands more families likely to face eviction. Corporation tax rates that currently stand at 20% are set to be cut to 19% by 2017 and 18% by 2020.

Harvie said:

“This budget confirms the Conservative Party’s ruthless disregard for the wellbeing of the majority, as they recklessly pursue an unjust mission to decimate our welfare state and public services. The rise in the inheritance tax threshold will benefit just the wealthiest, at a time when we’re seeing swingeing cuts to welfare hit the most vulnerable in society hardest.

“The living wage commitment is still less than the Green election proposal of £10 per hour by 2020, and against the backdrop of the attack on welfare, it’s clear that Osborne is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. In the context of £4.5bn cuts to tax credits this policy is clearly not a real Living Wage, it is a sleight of hand, to distract from the corporate tax cuts to the very businesses which have created so much working poverty.

“This Government’s ideological obsession with welfare cuts will plunge thousands more people into poverty, and I’m deeply concerned that we will now inevitably see a steep rise in the numbers facing needless hardship, while the services they rely upon also struggle from financial pressures and lack of support.

“We see yet more reckless, short-term policies that put the profits of multinational companies over the public interest, with more talk of ‘security’ purely in terms of a Cold War-era mind set.

“Food scarcity, insecure employment and climate change are among the threats that people in the UK and abroad face in their daily lives, and our priority must be to ensure the genuine security of those whom governments have a responsibility to protect.

“Today’s announcements can only send the UK further in completely the wrong direction, away from the more equal and sustainable society we need. The details make devastating reading when considering the pain already felt in communities across the UK, and the absolute lack of any action from this Government to finally face up to their climate change responsibilities.”

In the context of £4.5bn cuts to tax credits this policy is clearly not a real Living Wage, it is a sleight of hand, to distract from the corporate tax cuts to the very businesses which have created so much working poverty.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Greens Welcome Greece No Vote

Monday, July 6th, 2015

In reaction to the No vote in Greece, Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, said:

“This vote shows austerity has failed and those bearing the brunt will no longer put up with it. Europe must stand with the people of Greece in their rejection of austerity.

“The SYRIZA led government including Greek Greens has stood up to the Troika. Scottish Greens stand in solidarity with them. The Scottish and UK Governments must recognise the will of the Greek people and assist in their democratic effort to end unfair and unnecessary cuts. That should start with putting debt relief on the table during this week’s negotiations, as all sides recognize as necessary.”

Oxi Bremner

Credit: Stewart Bremner Design

Patrick Harvie MSP