Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie seek to continue leading Scottish Greens

Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman - Scottish Greens co-leader
Image credit: YouTube screengrab and Ric Lander, Creative Commons

Nominations for the Scottish Green Party’s co-leader election closed this week. This is the first time the Scottish Greens have elected co-leaders. The new roles replace the old “co-convener” system.

Both Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie – the party’s current co-conveners – are standing in the election, seeking to be the party’s first other co-leaders. They join three other candidates in the race, Guy Ingerson, Lorna Slater and Graham Kerr.

Harvie has emphasised his role as an MSP as being key to his campaign. Speaking to the National, he said of his candidacy that its important:

that our MSP team remains part of the leadership group within the party as we work to get the whole party ready for the next big test in 2021.

Meanwhile, Chapman highlighted her existing profile and experience in the role:

I have the vision, profile and experience to lead Scotland towards sustainability and social justice, and create the fair, peaceful world we need.

Voting opens among Scottish Green Party members on Wednesday July 3, and closes on July 26.

Greens won’t stand in Brecon and Radnorshire by-election

Voters and Brecon and Radnorshire will go to the polls on August 1 to elect a new MP in a parliamentary by-election. The by-election was called after Conservative MP Chris Davies was subject to a successful recall petition. Davies, a convicted fraudster, was recalled after forging invoices which he attempted to claim on expenses.

This week, the Wales Green Party confirmed that it would not be standing a candidate in the by-election. In a statement on the party’s website, Wales Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter said:

The local Green Party in Brecon and Radnor has chosen not to contest the upcoming by-election, in order to maximise the chances of the candidate most likely to beat the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.

Our local Green Party, like some other parties, has decided in these very particular circumstances that the best choice right now is to put Wales before tribal politics. We will always stand up for environmental and social justice, but current government policies, including the threat of crashing out of the EU, are bad news for people and environment.

Alison Johnstone launches wildlife protection bill

Alison Johnstone
Image credit: Creative Commons Edinburgh Green Party

The Scottish Greens’ parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone launched a bill this week which would seek to protect Scotland’s wildlife. Its focus is on providing legal protection for foxes and hares by closing the loopholes in existing legislation that bans hunting.

This week, Johnstone launched a consultation on her plans, which will run until September. The public’s contributions will feed in to proposals that will be made to the Scottish parliament.

Speaking on the bill, Alison Johnstone said:

Fox hunting was meant to have been banned in Scotland in 2002, but little has changed. Hunts still go out, pursuing and killing foxes, and foxes are still being killed by hunting dogs. My proposal would remove the loopholes and result in a watertight ban, ending hunting for good.

Politicians have repeatedly promised to end hunting, and the Parliament passed the Protection of Wild Mammals Act back in its very first session. For hunting to continue despite this leads to distrust in our institutions and those leading them. My proposals would represent a new contract between land managers and the wider public that could help restore good faith

Alex Phillips slams BBC Question Time for lack of Green Party coverage

Alex Phillips
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

Despite record breaking election results, the media is is still failing to give the Greens adequate coverage. That’s according to new Green MEP Alex Phillips.

In an article in the Independent this week, Phillips hit out at the media for its lack of coverage of the UK’s Green Parties. Explaining her point Phillips wrote:

In 2015, when the Greens polled in the double digits in the campaign period, we received just 2.6 per cent of the broadcast coverage, and just 1.4 per cent of the print coverage.

But her main criticism was aimed at the BBC’s flagship political debate show Question Time: 

Just this year a quick glance at the Question Time panellists. The Green Party has had a total of one guest on the show this year. The Conservatives had two MPs on just last week. And this comes after the Greens beat the Tories at the last national election. How on earth can that be right?

She continued:

The Greens lack of coverage is even more stark when contrasted with the airtime given to Ukip and then the Brexit party by the broadcasters. We know they are polling above us, but surely everyone can accept that part of the reason for their success is the broadcasters following their every move and poll bounce with apparent dedication.

Caroline Lucas calls for water to be brought into public ownership after Southern Water scandal

Caroline Lucas
Image credit: Creative Commons: GPEW

Private water company Southern Water was hit with a £126m fine this week. The firm was found to have been polluting the environment with sewage and lying about it for seven years.

Green MP Caroline Lucas was among those who condemned the water firm for its actions. In doing so she described the news as “shocking”.

Speaking on the revelations about Southern Water, Lucas said:

Water is the most basic human necessity yet we’ve handed over control of it in England to private equity companies who are showing contempt for the customer and the environment.

She continued:

The list of failings is truly shocking: badly maintained equipment, raw sewage dumped in the environment and covering it up with a series of lies for seven years.

Yet all the while, it was paying its then chief executive more than £700,000 a year and handing out millions to shareholders.

And then she called for an end to water privatisation:

It’s time to stop running our water companies for profit.

Privatisation has failed. We should bring the water companies in England back into public ownership – for the sake of customers and the environment.

These sentiments were echoed in a tweet from Lucas the same day:

Magid Magid sets out policy proposals for the EU

Magid Magid on Newsnight
Image credit: BBC screengrab

Green MEP and former Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid has set out a series of policy proposals for the European Union. In a feature on Politico, looking at how the EU can engage young people, Magid laid out his proposals.

He recommended three concrete steps the EU can take – lowering the voting age across the union to 16, taking bold action on climate change and reforming EU democracy.

On votes at 16, Magid said:

If you give young people the right to vote, they are more likely to take a lifelong interest in politics, develop a habit of voting and pay attention to what is going on around them because they will feel like they can do something about it.

He also called for the EU to “get serious about fighting climate change”, offering one particular suggestion on how to do this:

For example, we could start a green bank that gives starter investment to transformative projects across the Continent.

And on democratic reform, Magid had bold suggestions:

As a start, let’s have European citizens elect the president of the European Commission. Beyond that, we should consider introducing participatory budgeting exercises and citizens’ assemblies to bring democracy to life for everyone.

Ross Greer dubs Loch Lomond Flamingoland proposals “most unpopular planning application” ever

Green MSP Ross Greer’s ongoing battle with Flamingoland ramped up a gear this week. After collecting 56,000 objections to proposals to build a Flamingoland resort around Loch Lomond, Greer described the planning application as “most unpopular planning application”.

According to Common Space, Greer said:

Flamingoland is the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history. It would see public land in our national park sold off to a private developer, whose profits will disappear out of the community and whose own environmental impact assessment conceded major damage, including injury and death to red squirrels and otters, pollution of running and standing water and damage to ancient woodland.

With opposition growing to such unprecedented levels and now including the local council, as well as groups like the Ramblers and Woodland Trust, it’s clear that the National Park should reject the plans and protect this public land.

Sian Berry takes action on tube advert that trivialises sexual assault

Sian Berry
Image credit: Rosie Rawle

This week Transport for London (TFL) was embroiled in another advertising related scandal after attracting heavy criticism for approving an advert that joked about sexual assault.

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry was among those to criticise the advert, saying:

It’s making a joke out of the serious issue of sexual assault.

She also claimed on Twitter that she was contacting the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to ask how it was approved:

TFL have since apologised and confirmed that the advert will be removed.

Amelia Womack calls for tougher action on plastics

Amelia Womack
Image credit: Creative Commons: Krystyna Haywood

This week, the UK Plastics Pact announced that eight “problem plastics” were soon to be phased out of shop shelves. These include plastic straws and cotton buds.

But Green Party of England and Wales deputy leader Amelia Womack claims that this doesn’t go far enough. She said:

Companies produce and sell about 76 kilogrammes of plastic that goes to waste each year in the UK for every women, man and child in the country.

Today’s response from industry and retailers is wholly, ridiculously, inadequate and doesn’t address public concern on plastics or effectively protect the environment.

Again and again the model of self-regulation has failed. This is one more area in which the government needs to step in with strong action.

The Green Party is calling for a ban on all unnecessary single-use plastics. That would address almost all of the throwaway plastics on our high streets.

Ecosocialist faction of Scottish Green Party launched

The Scottish Greens aren’t only electing co-leaders right now. They’re also electing members of a range of internal committees.

And on the day nominations closed for those roles, a new left wing faction of the Scottish Greens launched. Named the “Green Future Group”, the new faction has argued for prioritising ecosocialism, a Green New Deal and Scottish Independence in the Greens’ platform.

The Green Future Group has a detailed set of proposals for taking the party forward on its website. These include a platform for the internal elections, which consists of “building a campaigning culture”, “investing in the party’s future”, “engaging and growing our membership”, and building “a winning message”.

The group has endorsed a slate of seven candidates on this platform for the Scottish Greens’ internal elections. The seven candidates are:

  • Jessie Duncan
  • Allan Faulds
  • Dan Hutchison
  • Calum McIntosh
  • Emma McShane
  • Laura Moodie
  • Matthew Sweeney

Natalie Bennett condemns rail privatisation in Left Foot Forward article

Natalie Bennett
Creative Commons: Global Justice Now

Former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales this week joined the growing number of critics of the UK’s privatised railways. Writing in Left Foot Forward, Bennett said:

We expect to be uncomfortable, overcrowded, overcharged. We’re grateful when it isn’t quite as bad as we expected.

It’s the product of 40 years of Thatcherism, a decade of austerity, decades of perception that private is good, public bad, and that any public service is unlikely to be what you really want.

We need to change the physical fabric, get the investment and policies we need. But we also need to demand far, far better than what we have now.

Bradford Greens selected General Election candidates

As the chaos of Brexit rumbles on, a General Election could be right around the corner. As such, many local Green Parties are selecting candidates to fight a possible early election.

Among those is Bradford Green Party, which this week selected its candidates for the next election.

Celia Hickson was selected for the Shipley constituency, Matt Edwards for Bradford South and Darren Parkison for Bradford West.