Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party’s campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, has launched its latest ideas paper, Digital Rights Are Civil Rights.
It highlights the Edward Snowden revelations about the extent of government agencies’ surveillance, and comes as a new poll for the Scottish Greens shows public concern about the recording abilities of modern gadgets.
In a poll of over 1,000 Scots by Survation, over 70 per cent said there should be restrictions on people using gadgets for recording in public where others don’t know they are being recorded.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and E-Politician of the Year, said:
“Our digital age is an exciting one with challenges and opportunities. With the responsibilities of an independent country Scotland could use technology to improve access to education and employment, while also taking a leading role in protecting people’s privacy.
“The active surveillance of innocent citizens highlighted by Edward Snowden shows Governments need both the political will and the technical ability to protect their citizens, and the UK Government appears to lack both.
“The current Scottish Government proposes to create a single intelligence and security agency for Scotland, and the legislation to create this agency must establish clear limits on its power, as well as meaningful democratic oversight. A Yes vote gives us an opportunity to establish those limits and that oversight.”
The ideas put forward in the Green Yes digital rights paper include:
-A Digital Bill of Rights
-A Scottish communications regulator
-Democratic control of intelligence functions
-A public forum for debate about the future of society and technology
Survation poll asked 1,006 Scots between 4 and 7 April:
Over the next few years wearable gadgets are expected to become more common, making it possible for people to make video and audio recordings of all their day to day experiences. Some people say this is a valuable technological innovation that will enable people to take photos and make videos more easily and conveniently, improving on existing technology such as smartphones. Other people say this technology could be abused and make it possible to film or record people without them knowing, violating their privacy.
Which of the following statements do you agree with:
-People should be free to use gadgets with video / audio recording in public, regardless of whether others know they are being recorded (17.7 per cent agreed)
-Use of gadgets with video / audio recording in public should be restricted where others don’t know they are being recorded (70.8 per cent agreed)
-Don’t know (11.5 per cent)
Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, is highlighting the results of a survey suggesting people aged 18-35 are more likely to oppose renewal of Trident than their older peers.
The survey, carried out by ComRes on behalf of WMD Awareness, comes as campaigners complete a Spring Walk from Holyrood to Faslane to raise awareness of the 200 nuclear warheads based just 35 miles from Scotland’s largest city.
Patrick Harvie MSP, who spoke at the start of the Spring Walk, said:
“This survey shows how important it is to challenge those determined to squander a hundred billion pounds on a horrific system of mass destruction. While it suggests those who grew up after the Cold War may be more likely to oppose Trident’s renewal I believe there are still too many people in Scotland unaware that these missiles are in our waters and that an attack launched from just one Clyde-based submarine would kill over 5 million people.
“September’s independence referendum is a real chance to say yes to a Scotland free of these nuclear-weapons, a move which could prompt governments around the world to rethink their outdated and dangerous defence priorities. Scottish Greens led a historic Holyrood vote against the renewal of Trident, and we will continue to make the case not just for its eventual removal from Scottish waters but for it to be made inoperable as soon as there is a Yes vote.”
Monday, April 7th, 2014
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, has launched fresh criticism of billionaire developer Donald Trump following a visit to the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Harvie viewed tree-planting on top of massive mounds of earth which surround a local resident’s house. The trees breach the planning conditions relating to Mr Trump’s environmentally-destructive golf course.
The MSP, who successfully earned a reprimand for the tycoon from the authorities for his sick anti-windfarm adverts, also saw from himself the failed attempts to stop sand movement in the internationally-important dune system. The dunes have swamped the fences that were planted.
“The bullying of local residents and the trashing of an internationally-important nature site are out of sight out of mind for most of us but it’s clear to me the intimidation and destruction are continuing. I understand the unpermitted tree-planting on the earth piles surrounding one resident’s house could be corrected but it simply shows the arrogance of this developer.
“I would encourage people to see for themselves the mess at Menie. It should serve as a reminder that when councils and governments suck up to the rich the public tends to pay the price.”
Saturday, April 5th, 2014
Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party’s campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, today (5 April) highlighted the choices an independent Scotland could take to create better jobs and grow emerging sectors of the economy.
“Jobs-rich, Fair and Flourishing: An Economy For All”, a Green Yes briefing paper, was launched today by Patrick Harvie MSP during a visit to a games developer in the heart of Dundee’s digital business district.
The paper says by taking full responsibility for the economy Scotland could pursue bold ideas such as the creation of local banks to support lending, establish a single regulator for micro-businesses to encourage entrepreneurs, and invest heavily in new technology to support growth in the creative sector.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and the Herald’s E-Politician of the Year, said:
“Dundee is a great example of a local economy embracing international opportunities, and is at the forefront of the digital sector. It’s essential we support the emerging sectors of the economy to create new jobs, and we have a better chance of doing this with the full range of responsibilities.
“The debate about independence provides an opportunity to ask what kind of economy we want. Satisfying, secure jobs with good pay are increasingly rare thanks to the hollowing out of the UK economy by corporate interests, with the main Westminster parties encouraging this approach.
“A successful Scottish economy would chart a different course. We could prioritise the small firms that provide us with a stable business base, reform bank lending and put an end to poverty pay. I hope the Green Yes contribution on jobs draws in undecided voters and shows them the possibilities that a Yes vote opens up.”
Highlights from the Green Yes paper on jobs:
-Scotland could create an economic revival and thousands of jobs by focussing on small business growth.
-Independence gives us the opportunity to kick start a local banking network built to support jobs in the local economy.
-A single regulator for businesses with ten or fewer employees would create one point of contact for start-up and micro businesses owners who need to concentrate on making their business a success and creating jobs.
-Local Authorities should be able to design a rates scheme that works for their own town centres and creates incentives to invest.
-Independence gives Scotland a better chance of making sure EU procurement rules are designed to allow small and local suppliers to win contracts.
-Independence provides Scotland the opportunity to break from austerity and invest directly in an economic recovery.
-We can build on and emulate the successes of local enterprise released in the community buy-out areas in the Hebrides and north west Scotland and the programmes such as Starter for 6, Bathtub2Boardroom, the Grameen Foundation, London Creative Labs and many others.
-More can be done in Scotland to make childcare more flexible and fit with the needs of parents who work or study part-time.
-A Citizens Basic Income would allow people to take a fuller and more effective part in the community and the local economy.
-Scottish independence provides an opportunity to raise the minimum wage to a decent living wage for all.
-Investment in research, development and innovation creates the foundations for new businesses and new jobs. We are starting to harness the jobs potential of a sustainable energy policy. Scotland also has strong chemical and life sciences industries creating opportunities for research into alternative technologies and green chemistry.
-Prioritising great quality food production, chemical sciences, medical and life science, construction and engineering, tourism and sports, shipbuilding and the space industry, digital opportunities and creativity, textiles and design, and energy.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
During today’s Scottish Parliament debate on Developing Skills for Scotland’s Digital Economy, Green MSP Patrick Harvie highlighted the need to ensure equal access to the internet and robust legal protections for privacy such as a Digital Bill of Rights.
The European Parliament today backed Green proposals on ‘net neutrality’, ensuring an open and free internet, where everyone has access and can contribute.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and the Herald’s E-Politician of the Year, said:
“If we’re to reap the cultural and economic rewards of new technology we must ensure people can trust it. I welcome ministers’ commitments to digital skills and infrastructure but these must go hand in hand with digital rights.
“From state and corporate surveillance to personal gadgets with hidden recording abilities it is clear we are struggling to keep pace with changing technology. We must carve out and protect civic space in this exciting digital world, and we should ensure the internet services we increasingly rely on serve the common good, not vested interests.”
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today expressed disappointment at comments to the committee by the Scottish boss of big business lobby group the CBI.
As part of the committee’s inquiry into Scotland’s economic future, Ms Johnstone asked Iain McMillan to justify his organisation’s view that Scotland in the Union is an “economic success story” in light of growing inequality and 200,000 children living in poverty.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“It was extremely disappointing that when questioned about the need to reduce inequality in society the boss of the CBI appeared to say he didn’t understand the meaning of the word. He went on to talk about philanthropy which, while welcome, can never properly address the structural flaws in an economy that leaves so many people behind.
“It is clear to me a Yes vote gives a real opportunity to close the appalling gap between the rich and the rest of society. By taking responsibility for our economy we could choose to support small, indigenous businesses, and grow the kind of well-paid, secure jobs that corporate interests often don’t provide.”
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, is welcoming the Scottish Government’s pledge of additional funding to support the roll-out of free school meals for P1-3.
Earlier this year FoI requests by Ms Johnstone revealed many school dining facilities are already at capacity, and many schools have no kitchens in which to prepare fresh food.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Local authorities have quite rightly pressed the Scottish Government to fully fund the roll out of free school meals, and I look forward to the details of how this additional money will be spent. Providing a universal benefit for our primary pupils makes plenty of sense but my research supports concerns I’ve long had about the capacity and quality of school facilities.
“As well as better facilities I hope the additional funding announced today ensures training and support for the 10,000 people directly employed in schools catering. These staff are often undervalued and will be central to the successful roll-out. We must ensure they have the resources they need.”
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Cutting air passenger duty to encourage international flights to and from Scotland is likely to lead to a rise in damaging CO2 emissions, Scotland’s climate change minister admitted today to Patrick Harvie MSP.
Eighteen months ago the First Minister told Mr Harvie that the Scottish Government would put forward an environmental impact of its policy of scrapping the duty but until today no figure has been presented.
Today during a Topical Question at Holyrood on the latest UN report on climate change Mr Harvie was told by minister Paul Wheelhouse that an internal figure he has seen suggests cutting duty would cause emissions to rise.
The minister also conceeded that if emissions from international aviation cause Scotland’s carbon footprint to grow, other sectors of the economy will have to provide deeper emissions cuts to compensate.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
“The Scottish Government should be stepping up to take responsibility for the failure to meet the first two annual climate targets but instead it is displaying astonishing recklessness. After eighteen months we finally get an admission that cutting taxes for the wealthy aviation industry is not a good idea if we’re serious about reducing our climate change impacts.
“Airlines don’t pay a penny of tax on fuel and they are failing to pay for the pollution they create. Making life easier for big business is not a reason to vote Yes; designing a tax system that makes highly profitable businesses pay for their pollution is.”
First Minister’s Questions, 13 September 2012:
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): In promoting this policy of cutting air passenger duty to stimulate more flights, the minister Fergus Ewing and VisitScotland admitted at this week’s meeting of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee that they had not even bothered to explore the policy’s compatibility with legally binding climate change targets. Will the First Minister agree to do what Fergus Ewing refused to do and write to the United Kingdom Committee on Climate Change, asking it to investigate the policy’s impacts on climate change before he promotes it further?
The First Minister: It is our responsibility to put forward an estimate in that respect and we will do so. However, although I accept Patrick Harvie’s position that we should build an evidential base for what is, to me, an apparently commonsense proposition, I suggest that in many cases having a direct flight between two destinations can be more environmentally efficient than taking two flights to get to the same destination. I would have thought that there was a commonsense argument for direct flights in environmental, convenience, economic and business terms but, as I said, I accept that we should build an evidential base for our case. That is our responsibility and that is what we will do.
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today welcomed an open letter from senior doctors and health charities challenging the Scotch Whisky Association’s delaying of minimum pricing for alcohol.
Greens were the only opposition MSPs to support the measure in the 2007-11 parliament and again voted for it when it was passed two years ago but it has been delayed by a legal challenge from the SWA. A judge ruled against the SWA but the lobby group is appealing the decision.
Doctors and charities accuse the SWA of mirroring the tactics of the tobacco industry in delaying life-saving legislation.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“Charities and doctors are right to challenge the Scotch Whisky Association, and we can only hope public pressure mounts. Many of these companies are vastly profitable multinationals, not traditional independent distillers, and they seem all too willing to risk public health for bigger profits.
“The situation is another sad example of how corporate interests stifle democracy, from the historic tactics of big tobacco to the childish antics of Donald Trump. Two years on from minimum pricing being passed by parliament, it’s clearer than ever that we need to challenge the dominance of the drinks industry by big firms whose focus will always be profit. They overshadow the welcome growth of small, independent brewers and distillers who put quality ahead of volume sales, and genuinely benefit our local communities.”
The open letter
In the 2007-11 session of parliament Greens were the only opposition party to support the government and vote for minimum pricing. Greens have always recognised it is not a “silver bullet” but rather one practical action that can benefit public health.
Monday, March 31st, 2014
The impacts of climate change are likely to be severe and irreversible, according to a major report by the UN.
The IPCC report says our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures.
Responding, Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:
“From the IPCC to the independent Committee on Climate Change, there is no shortage of expert voices growing louder in their calls for governments to take radical measures. We must cut the pollution that threatens quality of life for so many at home and around the world.
“The Scottish and UK Governments both appear to be in denial on this issue. The Coalition is rolling out the red carpet for frackers and gas guzzlers, while SNP ministers are unwilling to see the connection between their love of fossil fuels and their failure to meet climate targets year after year.
“Our economy is inextricably linked to the global environment, and if we continue to pay lip service to emissions reduction we risk massive disruption to our food supplies and our international trade. We are in an enviable position in Scotland with our renewable resources and we have a duty to lead the way to a sustainable society.
“What we don’t have is strong leadership from our governments who are effectively dumping on the next generation. Those who genuinely understand the benefits of cutting emissions must keep up the pressure.”