Patrick Harvie manifesto launch speech General election 2024

Speaking at the launch of his party's 2024 general election manifesto, Scottish Green Co-leader Patrick Harvie called for an end to 14 years of Tory cruelty and hostility to migrant communities and refugees.

Just as the Climate Crisis is driving inequality across the globe, the cost of living crisis we have endured in recent years has further entrenched inequality here at home. 

14 years of Tory austerity has not affected us evenly. Today, the five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the bottom 20 percent of the entire population. That’s just five households with more money and assets than 12.6 million people – almost the same amount of people living below the poverty line in the UK. That is the legacy of this government. 

It’s no surprise that the Tories are offering business as usual. They are protecting their interests, and those of their super-rich donors. 

Ironic, given the millionaires and billionaires appear to be abandoning them for Labour. Taking to our screens to declare their new found passion for Labour now that Keir Starmer has “taken the left out of the party”. 

Change, they say. But it’s a change of government without a change of politics.. 

No money to scrap the benefits cap or the two child limit. But business as usual when it comes to nuclear weapons and low taxes for the wealthy. 

The Scottish Greens say -  it doesn’t have to be this way. 

The UK is not just rich, it’s one of the wealthiest countries in history; but that wealth is being hoarded. Lorna has already talked about how we plan to tax that wealth. But that is just the first step - we also have a plan to redistribute it. To build a fairer and more compassionate country.

The Scottish Greens would immediately end the benefit cap. 

The arbitrary and cruel benefit cap has taken an average of £51 a week from almost 28,000 Scots families since its introduction. 

We would scrap the bedroom tax, and abolish the abhorrent two child limit, which makes women and children pay the brunt of Westminster’s ideological obsession with austerity.  

And we would make sure everyone is guaranteed a minimum income. A social security net that ensures that everyone can have a good standard of living. 

That is what we, as greens, believe in. Redistributing power and wealth to improve the lives and living standards of the majority.

That’s also why the Scottish Greens are proposing giving parents the right to a full year of paid maternity, paternity or shared parental leave, and creating a legal entitlement to paid compassionate leave on the death of a loved one. 

In time, the Scottish Greens would move towards a Universal Basic Income, using this country’s historic levels of wealth to ensure everyone in the country has enough to live a basic but dignified life. 

But dignity is not just about having enough money in your pocket, it’s about having your human rights respected, being part of a society that values everyone equally. 

Yet across Europe, and beyond, this is a moment when the threat of the far right is rising. They’re in government in countries like Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands; on the rise in France and Germany; and now in the UK a realignment on the far right looks like an inevitable consequence of this election. Alongside the growth of online radicalisation, and far right conspiracy platforms masquerading as news outlets, this is a chilling threat to democracy.

And even if it ends up wiping them out, the truth is that the Conservative Party itself has helped create this. Since Brexit they have shifted ever further toward right wing extremism, and their culture war against vulnerable groups has been one of the ugliest expressions of Tory politics in recent years.

The Scottish Greens have consistently and vocally opposed this agenda, and we will continue to defend the systems and structures which protect the Human Rights of us all. 

The next UK Government must drop the block on Scotland’s gender recognition reforms. A majority of the Scottish Parliament, including MSPs from all parties, supported these measures to make life a bit easier and less intrusive for transgender people. The ongoing block is not just stoking culture war politics, it’s making a mockery of the very principle of devolution. 

But equality and Human Rights are for everyone, not just the most marginalised - instead of watering down the Equalities Act, the Scottish Greens would expand it, to include menstruation and menopause as protected characteristics, and to tackle discrimination against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. 

Because when we defend the rights of others, we all benefit. There is no trade-off between the rights of minority groups, and the Scottish Greens will defend them tirelessly, at every turn - because far right ideas will only be defeated by challenging them directly, not by leaning into them as both Labour and the Tories have been doing for years. 

This is the bold, big picture thinking we need to build a fairer country. But breaking the stranglehold that the powerful few have over our country requires more than simply the redistribution of wealth. We have to change the system too.

Nowhere is that more urgent than in politics itself.

This election, for example, like those other far right parties in Europe, Reform are pledging to ditch net-zero.

Could they be doing that because 90% of their donations over the last five years - more than £2.3 million - has reportedly come from oil and gas interests, highly polluting industries, and climate science deniers?

Politics should not be for sale. Which is why in our manifesto we support full implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life report, and limits on political donations. And so should every other Party who believes in protecting democracy from dark money and vested interests.

The Scottish Greens will fight every day for a fair and inclusive society.

But our compassion is not reserved for those earning and paying taxes in this country. Our public services must be here for everyone who needs them, when they need them. 

Which is why the so-called ‘hostile environment’ is one of the most shameful legacies of this dying Tory government.

Only the cruellest of the cruel can watch the desperation of people prepared to risk their own lives - and the lives of their children - to cross the channel in tiny dinghies, and think the response should be more patrol vessels to turn them back, or deporting them to a country they have no connection to. 

At this general election, we have the chance to condemn this inhumane approach. To send a clear message - not in our name. 

Today, on World Refugee Day, I’m proud to be launching a manifesto which commits to immediately repeal the Rwanda Act, ban the offshore processing of asylum applications, and fulfil our duty as a wealthy, western nation to uphold the human right to claim asylum. 

The solution to stopping the death and suffering in the channel is not turning boats back, but providing a safe alternative. To set up safe routes for refugees around the globe, including coming to the UK. And once refugees are here, to process their claims in a fair and humane way and allow them the right to work.

This is our moral duty, and the Scottish Greens take that seriously.

Compassion is a core green value. One that runs throughout this manifesto, and one that must extend to those beyond our own shores. 

We believe firmly in the UK and Scotland being good global citizens. 

Building alliances for peace and challenging violent and hostile regimes which threaten the safety of citizens and global security. 

Addressing the historical legacies of colonialism and climate change, and actively standing up against genocide when we see it. 

Because that is what is happening in Palestine. And the UK Government is complicit both through its inaction and even by supporting arms sales to Israel.

Our manifesto commits to immediate formal recognition of the state of Palestine. 

An end to all financial and political support for the arms trade, including those UK companies who are directly contributing to the bombs raining down on Gaza as we speak. 

And support for the campaign led by Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel until Israel fulfils its obligations under international law and ends the occupation and siege of Palestine. 

But on many other issues, under the Tories, the UK has retreated from the global stage and become ever more inward looking.

As well as Brexit itself, nowhere was this more evident than in their decision to abandon the UK’s commitment to international aid.  

The Scottish Greens would re-establish the long-standing commitment to spend at least 0.7% of Gross National Income on international aid, with an aim to go much further, and we would restore crisis reserves to ensure we can always respond urgently to emergency relief when required. 

This country has disproportionately driven the climate crisis which is causing devastation to communities around the globe already - we must be ready to respond quickly and generously when our aid is needed. 

And at this election, our party is holding true to our long standing commitment to full nuclear disarmament. We are the only party left in Scotland to consistently oppose nuclear weapons. That doesn’t just mean ridding our waters of Trident, it means ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and building a new non-nuclear model of mutual security, away from the first-strike nuclear policy of NATO. 

This is how we challenge the UK Government’s morally bankrupt international policy, which prioritises the profits of arms dealers over upholding fundamental human rights.

Let me return now to Scotland, and our positionin the UK.

The Scottish Greens have long believed that Scotland should be an independent country.

Since Brexit that belief has only strengthened in depth and urgency. Our place is at the European table, collaborating with our neighbours to build a prosperous, fair and green Europe.

Independence is not owned by one party. And the polls show that a growing number of independence supporters recognise that.

Our manifesto is clear that a vote for the Scottish Greens is a vote for Scotland’s future as an independent nation.

We believe it’s for Scotland to decide when and how a referendum takes place. This is a matter of basic respect for Scotland and for democracy. It is not for a Parliament where less than 10% of MPs have a mandate in Scotland to decide our future.

We are therefore setting out clearly that the next UK Government must respect Scottish democracy, and grant the Scottish Parliament the power to hold constitutional referendums to the Scottish Parliament, so that a second referendum on Scottish Independence can be held at a time chosen by the people of Scotland and their democratically elected parliament. 

Friends, our manifesto lays out our vision for how the UK and Scotland can be a fairer, greener, more welcoming country. 

But the reality is that in spite of the challenges that we face, only small change is on offer from Labour. 

Starmer might replace Sunak in number 10. But we will still have starved public services, Brexit, a government in the thrall of the billionaires, disrespect for Scottish democracy, and a deepening climate crisis.

Don’t waste your vote on more of the same. Use your vote. Use it to deliver a powerful message. To say you want a green, fair and independent Scotland.

Vote like your future depends on it on the 4th July - because it does. Vote Scottish Greens.

Read the manifesto: Vote Like Our Future Depends On It - Scottish Greens

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