ALISON JOHNSTONE ON SCOTLAND BILL AND VOTES AT 16

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee, today (28 May) expressed hope that allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in next year’s Scottish Parliament election could lead to a similar change being made for UK elections.Alison small pic

Alison spoke this afternoon in the Stage 1 debate on the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill, highlighting the positive engagement in politics experienced by 16 and 17 year olds during the independence referendum.

Alison also commented on publication today by the UK Government of the Scotland Bill, which still appears to fall short of the package of powers outlined by the Smith Commission.

Scottish Green Party co-conveners Patrick Harvie MSP and Councillor Maggie Chapman took part in the cross-party negotiations last autumn, securing agreement on proposals including devolution of fracking licenses, energy company obligations and the power to bring railways back into public ownership.

On the Scotland Bill, Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“The details of what the UK Government has proposed will be closely scrutinised but clearly in light of the general election result the range of further devolution proposed by Smith deserves to be revisited. During the devolution committee inquiry we found shortcomings in the proposed legislative clauses, and I am not convinced that the new UK Government has taken the time to reflect that.

“There still appears to be restrictions on the kind of benefits the Scottish Parliament could create, and I’m extremely concerned that the clauses relating to the Crown Estate make it hard to see how local communities could have real control. Instead of tidying up a previous proposal to double-stream the Crown Estate it now looks like these assets will be bound to the Crown Estate Act 1961 which demands that they are run on a commercial basis. Our land and renewable resources should be in the hands of our communities to be used for the common good.”

On Votes at 16, Alison said:

“Giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in the referendum was a hugely important step for democracy in Scotland. By extending and promoting participation in politics we can ensure higher turnouts in elections, which all parties must welcome.

“Given the huge responsibilities young people have, it seems bizarre not to allow them to vote as standard. I’m strongly of the view that once we approve Votes at 16 for next year’s Holyrood election we’ll see the UK Parliament coming under pressure to make a similar move for the next Westminster election.

“Young people are our future and we should take every opportunity to engage them in politics.”

 

Our land and renewable resources should be in the hands of our communities to be used for the common good.
Alison Johnstone MSP

BUSINESS PLEDGE: HARVIE URGES STURGEON TO BE BOLDER

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today (26 May) welcomed the launch of the Scottish Business Pledge but urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to address weaknesses in environmental standards and tax avoidance.Patrick Harvie MSP

The scheme aims to encourage businesses to pay the Living Wage, end zero-hours contracts, commit to workforce engagement and employee diversity – all of which are Scottish Green Party policy.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“The ethics of doing business has been overlooked for too long, and I welcome the First Minister’s attempt to encourage companies to see how they can continue to turn a profit in a fair way. However, given the clear opportunity Scotland has to develop a low-carbon economy that respects our finite resources, and the urgent need to meet our failed climate targets, it’s disappointing that the environmental impact of business is barely mentioned in this pledge scheme.

“Ministers are also missing the chance to make a strong statement that tax dodgers won’t be tolerated. Multinational firms who use havens and loopholes should not be permitted to join what is being branded as a movement for a forward-looking nation, and I would urge the First Minister to be bolder in this area.”

 

Scottish Greens briefing – An economy for people

Multinational firms who use havens and loopholes should not be permitted to join what is being branded as a movement for a forward-looking nation, and I would urge the First Minister to be bolder in this area.
Patrick Harvie MSP

HARVIE RESPONDS TO MURPHY RESIGNATION

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Responding to the news that Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy is to resign next month, Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:PH thumbnail

“Jim Murphy’s resignation was almost inevitable, but even as he announced it he promised to further weaken Labour’s relationship with the wider labour movement. People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles. Without a clear sense of purpose, it has seemed to care only about holding office instead of creating new ideas for a better society.

“It’s clear that the Scottish Parliament needs an opposition that’s creative and challenging, but which can act constructively too. The Scottish Greens are ready to take on that role. With our growing membership and our healthy polling for next year’s election we can provide the progressive voice that Scotland’s communities deserve.”

 

With our growing membership and our healthy polling for next year's election we can provide the progressive voice that Scotland's communities deserve.
Patrick Harvie MSP

DEVO POWERS REPORT: JOHNSTONE URGES WIDER SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee, today (14 May) agreed with the committee’s findings that some of the legislation proposed by the UK Government falls short of the package of powers outlined by the Smith Commission.Alison small pic

Scottish Green Party co-conveners Patrick Harvie MSP and Councillor Maggie Chapman took part in the cross-party negotiations last autumn, securing agreement on proposals including devolution of fracking licenses, energy company obligations and the power to bring railways back into public ownership.

Today’s report from the Devolution Committee highlights that despite the Smith recommendations there is no power for the Scottish Parliament to top up reserved benefits, and there is serious concern about duplication rather than devolution of the Crown Estate.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“In light of the general election result the range of further devolution proposed by Smith clearly deserves to be revisited. During our inquiry the committee found shortcomings in the UK Government’s proposed legislative clauses, and the new UK Government would be wise to reflect on that.

“More broadly it is important that as Scotland continues to debate which powers should be transferred from Westminster that we make a real effort to involve wider society. The responsibilities of Holyrood should not be decided by party political horse-trading but should instead reflect the aspirations of our people and our communities.”

 

The responsibilities of Holyrood should not be decided by party political horse-trading but should instead reflect the aspirations of our people and our communities.
Alison Johnstone MSP

SCOTTISH GREENS THANK VOTERS, LOOK TO HOLYROOD 2016

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Scottish Greens today (8 May) thanked voters for supporting them in the 31 Westminster constituencies where the party stood, and say it gives them a great platform to build on for next year’s Holyrood election.Patrick Harvie

Scottish Green Party membership has surged to almost 9,000 and, for the first time, candidates stood in the majority of Scotland’s 59 seats. The party campaigned for a £10 minimum wage, public services in public hands and more power for local communities.

The Scottish Greens are congratulating Caroline Lucas of the Green Party of England and Wales for being re-elected in Brighton with an increased majority.

In Scotland notable results include Glasgow North where Martin Bartos secured 6.2 per cent of the vote, and Edinburgh East where Peter McColl secured 6 per cent.

Polling for next year’s Scottish Parliament election has consistently put the Greens on between 10 and 12 per cent, suggesting they could gain seats in every region of Scotland.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Scottish Greens co-convener, said:

“This election has shown that Scots are tired of the same old UK politics and want change. The unfair Westminster voting system was always going to squeeze smaller parties but our strong team of candidates and campaigners in communities around Scotland have made significant progress in building local awareness of our track record and our ambitions.

“The fact that so many people can vote Green but still end up with just one MP elected is just one sign that we need to reform the voting system. Poll after poll shows that people are drawn to our ideas to tackle poverty, climate change and corporate greed and that when people vote for policies, we come out a clear favourite. Caroline Lucas will continue to be the clearest and most compelling voice at Westminster for a greener, fairer and more humane society.

“Scottish Green campaign teams will be looking forward to mounting our biggest ever campaign, for Holyrood next year. Public polling is consistent and we intend to convert those numbers into a sizeable team of MSPs so the Green Surge transforms Scotland’s parliament.”

 

The fact that so many people can vote Green but still end up with just one MP elected is just one sign that we need to reform the voting system.
Patrick Harvie MSP

GREENS TAKE RENATIONALISATION CALL TO WAVERLEY

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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On the last full day of campaigning for the General Election, leading Green candidate Peter McColl was at Waverley Station in Edinburgh to call for the return of the railways to public ownership.

Rail renationalisation is a high priority for the Greens, and represents the party’s wider drive for public services to remain in public hands – a stance which includes opposition to the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Waverley station is served by Virgin East Coast and Scotrail, among other operators. Before the UK Government awarded East Coast to Virgin and Stagecoach, the publicly-owned railway returned £1billion over five years to the public purse. The Scotrail franchise, now run by Dutch public sector firm Abellio, returned a profit to previous franchise holders First Group of between £10m and £15m a year.

Green MP Caroline Lucas introduced a Bill at Westminster to return the railways to public ownership.

Mr McColl, the candidate for the Scottish Greens’ main target seat of Edinburgh East, said:

Rail in public ownership“A clear majority of Scots want the railways back in public hands, but no party at Westminster is fighting their corner. Only the Green MP Caroline Lucas has pressed for renationalisation; we need more Green MPs to make sure the majority is heard.

“East Coast ran substantially better as a public service than when it operated for profit. We must ensure that public services are run for public good, not private greed.

“Our railways are just the start of the privatisation bonanza we can expect if corporate lobbyists get their way with TTIP. Their intention is to give corporations the power to dismantle public services, workers’ rights and environmental protections that get in the way of their profits.

“I’m glad some parties have realised that the NHS must not be exposed to this treaty, but the NHS is not the only thing at stake. Green MPs will oppose the TTIP treaty altogether.”

Our railways are just the start of the privatisation bonanza we can expect if corporate lobbyists get their way with TTIP.
Peter McColl

GREENS WILL BRING ANTI-FRACKING POWERS TO SCOTLAND

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Leading Green candidate Peter McColl today pledged to ensure full powers over fracking are handed to Scotland, along with all the other new powers promised by the Smith Commission agreement.No Fracking campaign image

 

Campaigning in his home area of Portobello, which will be at risk if planned Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) goes ahead in the Firth of Forth, Mr McColl, the candidate for the Scottish Greens’ main target seat of Edinburgh East, said:

 

“If I’m elected on Thursday, I’ll be fighting to make sure that, at the very least, the full range of powers promised in the Smith Commission agreement are devolved quickly and in full.

 

“That includes full powers over fracking and other fossil fuel exploitation.

 

“Like so many other injustices, fracking is the result of a power imbalance. The power is held by distant, unaccountable politicians who are easily manipulated by corporate interests, while those most likely to be affected have little say.

 

“Greens believe in bringing decision-making as close to the people as possible. We don’t just want powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but to Councils, and right down to local communities.

 

“Our Co-Convenor Maggie Chapman pioneered participatory budgeting when she created Leith Decides to give local people the final decision – not just a consultation – over how a portion of council funding was spent.

 

“The Smith Commission must be delivered in full, but it is only the start. Our political system is clearly rotten and remote, and I’ll be arguing for a new constitution that puts power directly in the hands of communities.”

We don't just want powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but to Councils, and right down to local communities.
Peter McColl

GREEN WAGE PLAN WOULD BOOST STANDARD OF LIVING FOR SCOTS WORKERS

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Scottish Greens will today (4 May) highlight how their plan for a £10 minimum wage by 2020 will boost the standard of living for Scots workers.

_DSC2640Someone working on the current minimum wage of £6.50 an hour can expect an annual salary of around £12,506. Under the Scottish Greens’ plan that will rise to £19,240 by 2020.

Analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows single working-age people must now earn more than £17,100 for an adequate standard of living, including food and transport.

Today Patrick Harvie MSP and Scottish Green MP candidate Zara Kitson visited a Glasgow restaurant that is a Living Wage employer to talk about the Greens’ pledge on wages.

The Scottish Greens are standing in all seven Glasgow constituencies and the majority of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, and are enjoying a membership surge with almost 9,000 members across Scotland.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“We’re a wealthy nation and it’s unacceptable that so many workers still struggle to make ends meet. Rather than allow big firms to pay poverty wages and expecting the state to top them up through the benefits system, we should start raising the Minimum Wage to a meaningful level to match the cost of living.

“Many firms already pay the Living Wage and we need to build on that. Small businesses deserve support and other Scottish Green policies to streamline regulation and tackle business rates would help level the playing field.”

Zara Kitson, Scottish Green MP candidate for Glasgow North-east, said:

“In cities such as Glasgow we have an economy that isn’t working for most people. In-work poverty is unacceptable and we need strong Green voices at Westminster to challenge the big companies getting away with paying people so poorly.

“I want to see a £10 minimum wage for all. At the moment apprentices are on a meagre £3 an hour – we surely value our young people much more than that?”

Scottish Greens briefing on jobs and wages

Minimum Income Standard (JRF)

In-work poverty is unacceptable and we need strong Green voices at Westminster to challenge the big companies getting away with paying people so poorly.
Zara Kitson

HARVIE CALLS FOR END TO SANCTIONS REGIME TO ADDRESS POVERTY

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, will today (1 May) highlight his party’s manifesto commitment to scrap the “punishing” benefit sanctions regime.PH thumbnail

The pledge features in a new briefing from the Scottish Greens on the minimum wage and social security.

This morning Mr Harvie will visit Maryhill food bank in Glasgow. 83 per cent of food banks report ‘sanctioning’ is causing rising numbers to turn to them.

Figures from the Trussell Trust show that the use of food banks in Scotland has risen by two-thirds over the last year with emergency supplies issued 117,689 times, including 18,000 in Glasgow and 14,000 in Edinburgh.

Patrick said:

“The dismantling of the welfare state, and in particular the inhumane sanctions regime many people are subjected to, is undoubtedly contributing to the rise in use of food banks. It’s unacceptable, and while the volunteers who help distribute food are doing important work, it shows that the safety net that previous generations fought so hard to create for us all has been cruelly removed.

“I want to see human welfare put back into the welfare state, and I want to see big employers paying decent wages rather than poverty pay topped up with benefits.”

Glasgow councillor Dr Martin Bartos, Scottish Green MP candidate for Glasgow North, said:

“The link between our social environment and good health is clear. We need Scottish and Westminster parliaments and local authorities to work together to lift incomes and pursue policies that have good health outcomes.

“With better wages and a caring welfare system we can tackle health inequalities in cities such as Glasgow.”

 

Scottish Greens briefing on Minimum Wage and Social Security

 

I want to see human welfare put back into the welfare state, and I want to see big employers paying decent wages rather than poverty pay topped up with benefits.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Communities Will Be Alarmed At Minister's Fracking Comments

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

In tonight’s BBC One programme, The War over Fracking, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing declines to say whether he will introduce a permanent ban if the Scottish public clearly rejects fracking.No Fracking campaign image

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:

“Scottish communities are right to remain on ready alert to the threat of fracking, and I have no doubt many will be alarmed at these comments. Not only is the SNP’s energy minister still talking about this dangerous industry as an opportunity, but he appears to be suggesting it will eventually take place.

“It’s also telling that Ineos describe the current onshore moratorium as a breather. What we need to do is turn it into a permanent ban, for the sake of our communities and our climate.”

Scottish Greens have led the political campaign to stop fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction. 

-We gathered thousands of signatures on a petition, forcing the UK Government to halt the imminent licensing of fracking as this power is due to be devolved.

-We secured Scottish control over fracking licenses as part of the Smith Commission discussions.

-We pushed the Scottish Government to introduce a moratorium on onshore unconventional gas developments such as fracking.

-We led Holyrood’s first debate on the issue last year, proposing a ban. All other parties voted against it.

Want to support our campaign to turn the moratorium into a permanent ban? Join us!

Not only is the SNP’s energy minister still talking about this dangerous industry as an opportunity, but he appears to be suggesting it will eventually take place.
Patrick Harvie MSP