It’s time Scotland had its own Green MEP

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.

I came to Scotland in 1998 and have chosen to make this my home ever since. For the last seven years I have represented the people of Leith here in Edinburgh as local Green councillor and I’ve worked in the universities of our capital city where I see daily the enormous benefit to our economy, society and culture, of institutions which welcome staff and students from across the planet.

So when I say that I passionately believe that the movement of people between countries is good for our society and economy, you better believe that I mean it. As Scotland’s Green MEP I would stand up for a Scotland which welcomes people, and challenge those who peddle damaging anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Scotland also needs a voice in Europe to say no to the Cold War relic that is NATO, and no to illegal wars and military aggression. I will be that voice.

And we need a campaigner who comes with a track record of fighting to keep public services in public hands. As someone who battled, in the capital city, to prevent care services for vulnerable people being privatised, I have that track record.

So the Green manifesto sets out a vision for a revitalised Scotland in a reformed and reforming European Union.

A Europe where Scotland leads by example in rejecting weapons of mass destruction and outdated military alliances in favour of leadership in peace-keeping and peace-making.

A welcoming Scotland where the free movement of people is celebrated as an asset to our economy and enriching for our culture.

A nuclear-free Europe which harnesses the complementary renewable energies of the continent: the wind and tides of the north and the sun in the south.

A Europe where public investment is seen as a force for good, both in our own communities and globally; where the priority is to tackle corporate tax avoidance and evasion, not punishing the poor for a crisis they did not create.

A Scotland where core public services – from the post we receive to the railways on which we travel – lie in public hands.

A co-operative Europe where shared protection for land, seas and animals leads to higher standards and improved conditions; and where there’s action, not words, on climate change.

An exemplar Europe which exercises its diplomatic and trade muscle, not on behalf of corporations, but in support of human rights, indigenous people, impoverished nations and expanding the reach of equalities protections.

A Europe where protection of workers’ rights and pensions is seen as the mainstay of a thriving economy.

A more democratic Europe, driven by elected institutions and reasserting the principle of handing power to the most local level.

It builds on a strong track record of Green MEPs in Europe, stretching back to the early 1980s and, in the UK, to the first election of Green MEPs in 1999.

Those MEPs have pioneered limits on bankers’ bonuses, championed action on climate change, stood up for rights of minority groups – and acted as a force for progress.

It’s time Scotland had its own Green MEP: to stand up for Scotland’s interests in an increasingly interconnected world.

Our manifesto sets out the priorities which I, as that Scottish Green MEP, will follow.