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Moving classroom support & local democracy up the agenda

Patrick Harvie MSP

Tories say they are the “strong opposition”, Labour just want to oppose. Scottish Greens are in Holyrood to do a different sort of job – have bold ideas and get stuff done.

This week was our once-a-year opportunity to choose the topics up for debate. Every child has a right to education. But teachers, parents and young people have been giving us blunt warnings.

The Scottish budget must be a bold, anti-poverty budget

Patrick Harvie MSP

Sometimes in politics a simple phrase gets lodged into everyone’s consciousness, framing a debate. This is sometimes deliberate, but it can happen by accident too. As Scotland approaches the first budget in which meaningful tax decisions will be made, one example of this needs to be challenged.

Apprenticeships are vital

Alison Johnstone MSP

I recently hosted the Scottish Apprentice of the Year Awards for the Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council in the Scottish Parliament, and it underlined how vital it is that we offer apprenticeships.

Fourteen young people were honoured for their outstanding work. To have reached the final when there are some 5,000 apprentices registered with SBATC is no mean feat.  Yet it became clear that many would struggle to find place on their crowded mantelpieces for another award, such is their talent in their chosen trade.  

Councils shouldn't have to spend scarce resources repaying unfair loans

Patrick Harvie MSP

Recently I wrote how disappointed many people would be at the timid tweaks to council tax agreed by parliament. Local services deserve a firmer financial footing. To add to that, this week I published a report detailing Scotland’s 32 local authorities’ huge amounts of unethical and unsustainable long-term debt, which currently totals £11.5bn.

Eight tools to tackle fuel poverty

Andy Wightman MSP

Many houses and tenements across Scotland have stood for 100 years or more. With some investment and maintenance, they can remain homes for another century.   

We pay to live in our homes, either as tenants or owners, but when we are gone another generation will move in. Well built, warm and watertight homes will last across generations. In this sense, Scotland’s housing stock is not a private asset. Taken together it is a public good that we should steward for the future.

The fate of the world’s oceans is in the hands of all of us

Andy Wightman MSP

If you live in sight of the Forth, you might have noticed the Greenpeace ship, MV Esperanza anchored off Granton Harbour. It visited Edinburgh to launch a campaign to stop the pollution of the oceans by plastics. Most people have probably by now seen images of whales, dolphins and other marine creatures strangulated and starved by discarded plastic.

 

US election may be legitimate but Trump’s politics are not

Patrick Harvie MSP

It probably goes without saying, but I’d prefer to be writing about almost any subject imaginable today, instead of the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency.

We need to do more to ensure the brown hare & mountain hare have a future

Alison Johnstone MSP

This week I took part in a Holyrood debate on Species Champions. You can watch the video here (my contribution is 21 minutes in). 

I am the proud champion of the hare and we need to do more to ensure that the brown hare and the mountain hare have a future in Scotland.

Minority government could mean better dialogue, law & budgets

Patrick Harvie MSP

Many people in Scotland will be disappointed with the modesty of reforms to the council tax agreed by MSPs this week.

The Scottish Government often talks about how decisions on Scotland’s future would be best taken at the Scottish Parliament rather than at Westminster – and Greens agree.

We must find a way to secure a brighter future for Scotland’s students

Patrick Harvie MSP

“The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scotland,” reads a rather grandiose monument at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. I put it rather more simply than the former First Minister when I told a student protest outside Holyrood in 2011: “If I ever vote for fees, sack me.”

Education is a right that should be available to all, not just those who can afford it. Creating more opportunities for everyone who wants to gain a place at college or university is vital for our collective prosperity and quality of life.

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