Three Months to Go (Campaign Diary #1)
So, less than three months from now, we’ll know who’ll be governing Scotland and what sort of Scotland we’ll be working to create. With more Green MSPs we can push Holyrood to be bolder resulting in a better Scotland. As things start to hot up even more, I’m starting a campaign blog, sharing with you stories from the campaign trail, listening to what people are experiencing and their concerns and hopes for the future.
This last week or so, I’ve been out and about in North Lanarkshire, Falkirk and South Lanarkshire and our brilliant activists have been getting out on stalls and planning for the months ahead. Our excellent new staff member, James Thornbury, is bringing a much welcome extra capacity on top of our volunteering. See you on the trail around Central!
Firstly, a big thank you for your team support – we are fitting all this activism around work and family life, so it is very much appreciated. Also a big shout out to all of our families: without their support our activism would not be possible. I’m in politics to really change things, not tinker round the edges. If we support a wider range of people to get involved in politics then better policies and a better country will be the result. There’s still loads of chances to volunteer in this most exciting of campaigns – if you want to help make a better Scotland, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s Highlights: #NoFrackingWay rally on Falkirk High Street followed by hot tea in a nearby cafe. And our visit to Dress for Success, a social enterprise in North Lanarkshire benefiting women furthest from the job market.
Lowlights: House a total tip but now (very partially) caught up!
Last Thursday in East Kilbride, we hosted a public meeting on Trident. The wonderful Veronica Tudhope of Scottish CND and my previous election ‘running-mate’, told us all about the nuclear convoys driving along our motorways. She also told us of her (now famous), soft toy dashboard as featured in The National (http://www.thenational.scot/comment/the-national-view-reassurances-needed-over-deadly-cargo.12484 ) as she was pulled over by Police Scotland, supposedly driving erratically whilst tracking said convoy. If you see a nuke convoy, get in touch with NukeWatch – numbers here: http://www.nukewatch.org.uk/.
On Sat, several of us headed up to Perth through the snow, catching glimpses of white hills in between all the campaign chat. Preparing for this election, the Greens are definitely upping our game to be worthy of the public vote. Then on Sunday it was over to Falkirk for the #NoFrackingWay rally on the High Street, joining events all over the world. In between speakers (including John Wilson and I) on the threat of fracking to nearly all areas of the Central Belt (http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking) and the opportunities of over 200,000 long lasting, clean jobs in a low carbon Scottish economy (https://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/08/Jobs_in_Scotland_New_Economy.pdf ), there was poetry, spontaneous anti-fracking chants, debut speakers, young and old and bagpipes. Falkirk is turning into fracking’s front line in Scotland and communities there have been fighting it for years. Central Scotland has been down this road before – our last fossil fuel ‘bonanza’ left our people and our landscape scarred. For all our futures and for jobs in sustainable industries, we need to keep up the pressure to ban it once and for all in the next term of the Scottish Parliament. Get together with your chums and watch this film, Groundswell Rising or show it in your communities – inspiring activism fighting big oil and gas – http://groundswellrising.bullfrogcommunities.com/gsr_about
On Monday, Rosemary (North Lanarkshire Greens) and I visited an amazing social enterprise, Dress for Success Scotland (https://scotland.dressforsuccess.org/). My friend had told me of it before, but with my new Green portfolio as spokesperson on youth and women’s employment, I was keen to learn more. Board member, Anita, told us that it is entirely run by volunteers and women are referred from the Job Centre and Routes to Work. As well as getting women suited up ready for interviews and work in their beautifully done up boutique, there’s so much more. Women get their own personal shopper on their visit, giving them the attention and confidence they so rarely get. They leave with smiles on their faces, often after a few tears, ready to step into a better future. But DfS struggle for income as the Jobs Centre seem to have a big contract with Asda for their hardship fund. Something Greens would like to change, investing in enterprises with a social purpose. If you can help with clothes donations or go along to one of their fab fundraisers or even encourage women to get referred to DfS, please get in touch with them.
On Thursday I met again with the Hamilton Energy Recovery Action Group (HERAG). They’ve been fighting an incinerator planned just 80m or so from houses for years. After being rejected by South Lanarkshire Council, the Scottish Government overruled the decision and the company can now apply to SEPA for an operating licence. The community will fight this all the way and the Greens will be right behind them. We are opposed to incineration as it diverts attention from the real issue – cutting down our waste in the first place. Keep in touch and support the group via the facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/HERAG2013/
In Friday, I took the day off work as the BBC Radio Scotland Big Debate was in EK discussing income tax, housing and Europe amongst other things. From the audience, I got a couple of points in about how our preferred taxation of derelict land and luxury housing will be truly progressive by taxing wealth rather than income. Great to see loads of young people from local secondary schools there too. You can listen again here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06z8qhm.
Then it was Saturday stall day. Branches braved the cold in Airdrie, Falkirk and Hamilton to get out the Green message across Central.. and we still looked chirpy at the end with the help of some hot drinks.
Sunday was a much needed familyday, swimming (until the pool was emptied following a toddler’s ‘accident’), tidying up the house (a bit), visiting a friend, a nice meal and glass of wine. More excitement planned for next week, including a visit with a special guest to a special organisation and connecting again with the Radical Independence Campaign.