People who have been at the many events at which I have spoken in this campaign will have picked up, if they have a fine-tuned ear, that I was not born in Scotland. I’m originally from southern Africa, where my early attitudes, politics and instincts for justice were forged in the great struggles of that part of the continent these last 50 years.
One of the most frequent arguments heard in 2014 in favour of Scotland becoming an independent country was that it would give us an opportunity to operate our own social security policy, setting a different political course from Westminster. In the face of the UK Government’s full scale assault on the welfare state, many people saw the need for a radical change and saw independence as the means.
We now know that the first shipment of shale gas produced by fracking is expected to arrive in Scotland very soon.
The sight of the so-called "dragon" fleet of ships docking in Scotland will no doubt get Ineos bosses pushing for fracking to begin in Scotland, but we are not going to allow that to happen. The Scottish Parliament reflected public concern that fracking offers too much risk for too little gain and the time for the Scottish Government to come off the fence has arrived.
Recently I wrote in The National about Holyrood’s financial limbo as we wait for the UK Government’s autumn budget statement. Till then the Scottish Government cannot publish its spending plans for next year, so the committees which cover spending areas cannot yet know what will happen to the public finances. This situation is made even more complex and unhelpful given the additional powers coming to Holyrood; undertaking those changes in a period of financial uncertainty could prove very problematic.
A concerned constituent contacted me recently with the disappointing news that a much-loved service for Edinburgh’s disabled children is due to close at the end of September. As reported in the Evening News on 4 July, parents of children supported by Capability Scotland’s Westerlea Early Years programme are fighting for the service to continue after they were told by charity managers that they had “been unable to secure sufficient funding to continue and there is simply no viable alternative”.
Given the pace of events this summer, you could easily forget just how slow political change can be. More than a decade and a half after devolution in Scotland, and with the Conservatives never having been even close to power at Holyrood, you’d have thought that the legacy of Margaret Thatcher would have been long buried, at least when it comes to issues within the control of Scotland’s own Parliament, such as social housing.
At this point in the Holyrood calendar MSPs are normally looking forward to a quieter time over the summer recess, while the committee clerks and government officials are preparing for the budget process which begins when Holyrood returns in September.
As you may have noticed, this is no ordinary year.
The petitions which appear on change.org cover a wide range from deeply serious campaigns to eccentric ‘hobby horse’ issues. Perhaps the best I’ve seen appeared yesterday. Expressing the exhaustion many people feel with the current state of politics, a petitioner proposed: “Can we all agree that there will be no news on Friday. None. Nothing will happen. At all.”
It is fantastic to see how many of you have made their way here today to support 'Scotland in Europe.' I am speaking to you as a migrant and as a Scottish Green.
"The Scottish Green Party totally condemns the actions and attitudes of racism and xenophobia that have come to light in recent days in Scotland and across the UK. In a modern, welcoming and diverse Scotland, it is entirely unacceptable to behave in this manner, and we remain committed to challenging these toxic attitudes at every turn.
In light of these events we offer our continued, unwavering support and solidarity with EU citizens, migrants and all affected by this surge of racism. Know that you will always be welcome, and that Greens will always stand with you."