IN THIS ELECTION the record of parties in parliament is under more scrutiny than before.
With more powers on the way voters will need to be certain they’re voting for the right candidates and party, and this is where a record of consistent, principled action really counts.
But where the Scottish Greens are concerned there might appear to be an obvious Catch 22 – having never been in power, and without that record to stand on, where does that leave the Scottish Greens?
For a start, we don’t do the pantomime politics that the other main parties seem to love so much. If you’ve ever watched Patrick Harvie in First Ministers Questions, the leaders debates, or indeed seen any Green candidate in a hustings you’ll see that first hand.
We also recognise we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. Where there’s a good idea, we’ll support it. But where there’s something that could be done better, we’ll take a constructive approach – we’ll make our case, debate, push for, and maybe even cajole the government to up its game.
By taking this approach in the last parliament, and with less than a handful of MSPs, we’ve been able to make a lot of real differences.
I’ve already highlighted some of the great work John Finnie has done in my first insideMoray article, but here are a few more examples of a what a few Green voices have achieved:
- Our budget negotiations helped deliver £77 million more for fuel poverty programmes, and reducing energy use is now marked as an investment priority.
- Our budget negotiations also helped deliver £64 million more for walking and cycling, and our Fans’ First campaign has made it possible for football clubs to be owned by their fans.
- Green MSPs saw off Government plans to make maximising growth the core purpose of the planning system, retaining the duty to promote “sustainable development” instead. Across the country, and at all levels, Greens have been successfully defending communities against unwanted and unnecessary development.
- We successfully campaigned to extend Freedom of Information laws to include council-owned arms’ length bodies.
- We secured a pledge from the Scottish Government to put the fight against tax avoidance at the heart of Revenue Scotland, and we pushed the Scottish Government to reduce the secrecy of land ownership in Scotland with a target date for completion of Land Register and a register of beneficial ownership.
- Green MSPs revealed the extent of allotment waiting lists, how much local authorities are spending sending waste to landfill, and revealed the scale of the threat to the forestry economy from diseases such as needle blight.
- We also secured a reprimand for Donald Trump for spouting misleading propaganda!
With more Green MSPs we could do so much more.
Of course, this election isn’t just about what we’ve done, but also what we’d like to do – like overhaul the tax system now we have the powers to, which I wrote about last week.
There are a number of issues the next parliament will have to get to grips with, and on many of them only the Scottish Greens have a clear, consistent, and principled policy.
Fracking, while perhaps not directly relevant to Moray, is a good example. The Scottish Greens have been implacably opposed to unconventional gas extraction from the moment it was mooted as a solution to our energy needs.
Green MSPs led the first debate on the issue in parliament, but proposals for a ban were voted down by every other party. Now, it seems that after consistent Green pressure that may be about to change.
The same is true of Council Tax. We’ve been trying to scrap the blasted thing since the first session of parliament back in 1999, proposing replacing it with a fairer property based alternative.
At one time or another the other parties have supported then opposed, or opposed then supported the Council Tax, allowing it to limp on with minor tweaks but categorically failing to address the root problems.
Strong Green voices in the next parliament will continue to fight for this change, and a fair settlement for local government.
Closer to home principled Green action saw consistent support for the campaign against ship-to-ship oil transfers taking place in the Moray Firth.
Despite an extended consultation and thousands of people signing petitions against the proposals, only John Finnie the Scottish Greens stood up for our environment, fishermen, tourism, and coastal communities.
So actually we do have a record to be judged on. If you’re looking to vote for someone with consistent principles, who can get things done in a constructive manner, then on the 5th May vote Green, and Re-elect John Finnie.
All Moray candidates in the 2016 Parliamentary Election plus list candidates for the Green Party and an Independent were invited to submit their views on one day each week until Friday, April 29 – they will then be invited to sum-up their cases on Sunday, May 1 in a final address on insideMoray before the election.
Candidates for the Banffshire and Buchan constituency that includes part of Moray around Buckie have also been invited to submit their views – two accepted, two did not reply – and none have actually submitted any article.