My five Green promises to the Scottish people
Herald Scotland, by Caroline Lucas
These are extremely difficult times for people across the UK. Austerity is biting – and set to get worse after this year’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor. We have a Government in Westminster, elected by just 24% of the electorate, aiming to gut our public services and abandon any pretence of wanting to protect our shared environment. But, in the face of five more years of Tory rule, movements are emerging up and down Britain which challenge the political and economic consensus. From the hope-inspired Yes campaign in Scotland, to the Green Surge and to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, it’s clear that there is a huge appetite for a new way of doing things.
This weekend I’m in Glasgow with my colleagues from the Scottish Green Party at their biggest ever conference. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the Green Parties of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Our membership is at a record level, we’ve just had our best general election to date and we’re looking to next year’s elections as a chance to elect more representatives across these islands. Here in Scotland it looks likely that every region could elect at least one Green MSP in May.
Like so many of you I’m desperate for change. It’s in the growing spirit of hope that I put forward these five thoughts on Green Politics moving forward:
1) Green support for Scotland’s self-determination is non-negotiable. The only people who should decide if and when the question is asked again are the Scottish people – and Greens elsewhere in the UK will always support you, whatever decision you make. We were incredibly proud of last year’s inspiring Green Yes campaign and will continue to support our sister party’s commitment to independence for Scotland.
2) Green parties across these islands are united in our opposition to nuclear weapons – and those of us living south of the border must now match Scottish opposition to Trident with continued campaigning to rid our nations of these weapons of mass destruction. While other parties may be divided on this issue it’s crucial that those of us who oppose Trident unite to defeat the Government in Parliament and, if necessary, through non-violent direct action too.
3) Like most people in Scotland Greens wants to remain part of the EU. We cannot leave the campaign to remain part of the European Union solely to big-business and those wishing to water down workers’ rights and environmental protections. Instead we need to build a cross-border campaign for a different kind of EU: that works for and is accountable to the people of Europe, protects us from environmental threats, regulates the excesses of speculative finance and defends workers’ rights.
4) Pluralist politics works – and it’s time England embraces it. Here in Scotland the fairer electoral system gives everyone a voice and encourages politicians to work together too. Alison Johnstone’s work on giving football fans the right to buy their club and Patrick Harvie’s campaign for rent controls show the power of having just two MSPs – having a Green representative in every region will add to a more progressive politics for Scotland.
5) Every nation in these islands, indeed every country on earth, has a role to play in addressing the greatest challenge of our time: climate change. Thanks, in part, to Green pressure the Scottish Government has announced moratoriums on fracking and now underground coal gasification – we need to see that turned into a ban as soon as possible. South of the border the challenges we face are mounting. The UK Government has slashed support for renewables and is ploughing ahead with fracking plans. The need for more Greens in both of our Parliaments could not be clearer.