Scottish Greens seek to win 16 Holyrood seats

Scottish Green Party Holyrood candidates
Image credit: Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green Party met for its Autumn Conference this weekend in Inverness. And top of the agenda was the party’s plans for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Speaking to Conference, party co-leader Lorna Slater argued that the Greens are able to win 16 seats in the Scottish Parliament – two for every electoral region. If successful, the Scottish Greens would more than double their best every Scottish Parliamentary election result. The party currently hold’s six seats in the Scottish Parliament. And in 2003 the Greens picked up a record seven seats.

Speaking on the ambition to elect 16 Green MSPs, Slater said:

Only the Greens understand the climate emergency, know what needs to be done, and are determined enough to deliver transformative change.

Every one of the 16 candidates we announce today can be elected in 2021.

And just imagine the hope this could give us. The power to take the action needed to save the planet and build a new Scotland.

Our time is now. In 2021, we can win. We can lead the way with a vision for a Green and Independent Scotland.

At the Conference, the party unveiled its lead candidates in the forthcoming elections.

In the Highlands and Islands Ariane Burgess will be the party’s lead candidate, followed by Anne Thomas. Their candidacies are notable due to sitting Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands John Finnie announcing he will be retiring and not seeking re-selection.

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie was re-selected as the lead candidate for Glasgow. He’ll be joined on the ballot by Glasgow city councillor Kim Long and Nadia Kanyange

Ross Greer will once again be the lead candidate for West Scotland, with Carolynn Scrimgeour second on the list.

In the North East region, former Scottish Greens co-convener Maggie Chapman is the party’s lead candidate. And in second place on the ballot will be Guy Ingerson who unsuccessfully stood for the co-leadership of the party this year.

Sitting MSPs Alison Johnstone and Andy Wightman were both re-selected as the first and second candidates for Lothian, with Lorna Slater third on the ballot.

Voters in Mid Scotland and Fife will once again be able to vote for Mark Ruskell. Mags Hall joins him as the second candidate.

Central Scotland will see Gillian Mackay and Rosemary McGowan fight for the Green vote.

And Laura Moodie and Barbara Harvie were selected for South Scotland.

Scottish Greens rule out electoral alliances

Last week, the Green Party of England and Wales Conference passed a motion supporting the exploration of electoral alliances.

But this weekend, their Scottish siblings took a different approach. At the Scottish Green Party conference, members voted to rule out an electoral pact with other parties.

With the Scottish Greens rejecting electoral alliances, party co-leader Lorna Slater singled out the SNP for criticism, accusing them of “hypocrisy” on climate change. Slater said:

The SNP’s world leading hypocrisy on the climate crisis has never been clearer. The science tells us that we must urgently transition to a greener, cleaner economy.

The only thing the SNP should be talking to the oil and gas industry about is setting an end date for fossil fuel extraction, and putting in place a just transition for workers.

Patrick Harvie argues independence can only come through a referendum

Patrick Harvie
Image credit: Creative Commons: Ric Lander

While the Scottish Greens were meeting in Inverness, the movement for Scottish independence gained momentum. A new poll from Panelbase found support for independence at 50%. This is the highest level of support for an independent Scotland Panelbase has registered.

But Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie, who is a prominent for campaigner for independence made clear at Conference the conditions under which independence could be delivered. He argued that the Scottish Government should never make a unilateral declaration of independence, and instead it must come through a referendum.

Speaking at the Conference, Harvie said:

I think Scotland’s future is as an independent country, part of the European family of nations.

I think that’s coming, maybe sooner than some of our critics want it.

The fundamental thing about that, though, is that’s a decision for the people of Scotland to make, on their time-scale.

Independence can, and only will, be delivered in a democratic manner, that’s the kind of Scotland I want to live in.

He continued:

It has to be a choice, it has to be, and I think will be, a democratic choice that the people of Scotland decide to make.

They’ll do it on their terms, not anyone else’s.

Scottish Greens announce plans to reforest Scotland

Lorna Slater

Among the policy announcements coming out of the Scottish Greens’ Conference was a commitment to widescale reforesting of Scotland. The policy is part of their wider package of environmental and social justice reforms within the party’s Green New Deal commitments.

As part of the reforesting plans, the Scottish Greens would seek to replace grouse moors with forestry. The party claims this would play a role in battling climate change and providing rural jobs.

Speaking on the announcement, party co-leader Lorna Slater said:

It is fascinating to hear about the innovative approach of the Scottish School of Forestry here in the Highlands. It is clear that increasing forest cover in Scotland, which is critical to address the climate emergency, would also provide quality careers in the sector.

Research for the Revive coalition shows that forestry can provide a job per every 42 hectares, compared to one job every 330 hectares for grouse shooting or one every 183 hectares for agriculture.

That’s why reforestation can bring new life to areas of rural Scotland that are too often treated like visitor attractions rather than real communities.

Magid Magid brands Boris Johnson a “national disgrace” in Brexit debate

Magid Magid on Newsnight
Image credit: BBC screengrab

The European Parliament this week held a heated debate on Brexit. The debate centred around the European Council’s preparations for its crunch Brexit meeting on October 17 and 18.

And as the deadline for a Brexit deal looms, Green MEP Magid Magid pulled no punches in his attack on UK prime minister Boris Johnson. In a fiery speech, Magid hit out at Johnson, branding him a “liar, a charlatan, a racist, a national disgrace, an enemy of democracy”:

Friends, As-Salaam-Alaikum.

As we all already know, Boris Johnson is a liar, a charlatan, a racist, a national disgrace, an enemy of democracy, a selfish saboteur, a puppet to an unelected bureaucrat. And as the grandma even in his own constituency says, a filthy piece of toe-rag.

So to Juncker and Mr Barnier and the other EU leaders: give Boris nothing and give the British people everything, especially the young. Give them your solidarity, your unwavering support and your sincere promise that you won’t ever abandoned them to the fantasies of the insecure, delusional, tiny British elite that is summed up by Boris Johnson.

And Madam Chair, I have constantly and frequently criticised the EU on countless occasions, and believe me, that’s not going to change. But our future is here, in this Parliament.

This is a parliament, this is the European Union that turned ash, smoke, hate, horror, death and destruction into an Ode to Joy. My name is Magid Magid and I’m proud to be a British, Somali, African and a European.

You can watch Magid’s speech here:

 Greens win fossil fuel divestment battle in Trafford

The global movement for fossil fuel divestment won another victory this week. Green Party councillors were successful in getting Trafford Council to commit to phasing out its investments in the fossil fuel industry.

A motion, submitted by the Green group, called for the council to end divest from fossil fuels by 2024. However, this motion was successfully amended by Labour in order to remove the timed deadline.

Speaking on the council’s decision, Geraldine Coggins, leader of the Green group said:

Pumping money into the big oil companies is increasingly risky for investors. We have no choice but to move away from depending on this industry, and as we do so these funds will lose their value.

Our pension fund shouldn’t be supporting dirty fuels which accelerate the climate crisis. We’re disappointed that Labour has taken away our pressing timeframes and watered down the impact of this move.

Speaking in advance of the decision, the North West’s Green MEP Gina Dowding told the Manchester Evening News that the climate crisis requires an end to “business-as-usual” attitudes. Dowding said:

Governments at all levels, including here in the European Parliament, are declaring climate emergencies and recognising that swift and urgent action needs to be taken to reduce carbon emissions.

We need a transition to clean renewable energy supplies and away from fossil fuels.

There can no longer be a business-as-usual attitude, with a slowly-slowly approach to pensions and fossil fuel investments: changes must be implemented now.

Molly Scott Cato demands European Investment Bank ends financing of fossil fuels

Molly Scott Cato
Image Credit: Creative Commons: Bristol Green Party

It wasn’t just in Trafford that Greens were making the case for an end to fossil fuel financing this week. Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar this week took the battle against fossil fuels to the European parliament.

Speaking in a debate on the the future of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Scott Cato argued that the bank must end all its financing of the fossil fuel industry. Scott Cato’s comments come after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to transform the EIB into a “climate bank”.

Speaking in the debate, Scott Cato said:

We need to rapidly increase funding for activities that will bring about quick wins and dramatic carbon reductions including large-scale home insulation, electrification of services currently provided by fossil fuels, and massive investment in public transport. But this must run in parallel with an immediate end to the funding of all fossil fuel projects.

We need a climate bank that does what it says on the tin, not one that counters investments in the green economy by throwing more money at projects which continue to push business as usual.

The EIB lent more than €12 billion to the fossil fuel industry between 2013 and 2017. It’s lending was primarily to projects of gas extraction and distribution.

Kathryn McKnickle to replace Rachel Woods on Ards and North Down council

With Rachel Woods entering Stormont following Steven Agnew’s resignation as a member of the Northern Irish assembly, her seat on Ards and North Down council was vacated. And this week, it was announced that Kathryn McKnickle will replace Woods on the council.

Speaking on her new role, McKnickle said:

I am looking forward to building on the positive change delivered by Green Party Councillors across Ards and North Down.

Importantly, I’ll be working to ensure that the Council takes action on the climate emergency rather than simply acknowledging it.

She continued:

I am committed to supporting people subjected to welfare reform, particularly with mitigations due to end in 2020.

I believe the welfare reform changes create a system which is non-human rights complaint and unjust.

I am also passionate about representing the views of young people. I am 22 and I want to represent my generation on a range of issues such as climate breakdown and Brexit.

McKnickle joins two other Greens on the council, and becomes one of eight Green councillors across the north of Ireland.

New round of Green parliamentary selections as General Election looms

The fabled General Election is yet to materialise. But Greens are nonetheless preparing to battle for increased representation in Westminster. This week, yet more local Green Parties have selected General Election candidates.

Becca Stevenson has been selected for the Warwickshire constituency of Rugby. A Conservative stronghold, the Greens’ best ever result came in 2015, when the party picked up 2.9% of the vote. Undeterred by past results, according to the Rugby Advertiser Stevenson said:

I want to put another Green voice into parliament. There needs to be more Green voices.

There are lots of problems facing the people of Rugby locally, the country and the world that aren’t getting the attention that they deserve in the shadow of Brexit.

Our EU membership is a huge issue, but we can’t allow it to distract us completely from all the other concerns affecting the people of Rugby and Bulkington.

Another Conservative also saw a Green candidate selected this week. Sabrina Poole – a town councillor in Cirencester – was selected for The Cotswolds. Poole also stood in the constituency in 2017, picking up 2.9% of the vote. Speaking on her selection, Poole said:

The Conservatives want to get Brexit done.

But for those of us that do not have mates gambling on the outcome for huge financial gain, it’s climate change, a Green New Deal and our public services that really matter.

John Finnie calls for end to private prisons

John Finnie Green Party MSP
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

Prison privatisation has long been a controversial issue. And this week was no different.

Revelations that inflation uplifts built into private prison contracts resulted in cuts to overall prison budgets were met with outrage. Green MSP John Finnie condemned the privatisation of prisons claiming that private profit has no place in the criminal justice system.

Finnie said:

Private profit should have no place in Scotland’s criminal justice system. It’s absolutely absurd that cuts must to be made in the public sector, in order to enrich Serco’s shareholders. The Justice Secretary must urgently review this wholly unsatisfactory arrangement. It’s time we stopped dishing out huge amounts of public money to predatory companies who run our public service into the ground.