Agenda of solidarity need bolder Parliament, radical action on tax & services

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today urged the Scottish Government to be prepared for "compromise" and "open-minded discussion" as the First Minister presented her Programme for Government.

Among the priorities laid out by the FM, the Greens are continuing to question the logic of cutting Air Passenger Duty, are urging ambitious new policies to meet the tougher targets of a new Climate Change Bill, and are challenging the proposed "tweaks" to the unfair Council Tax.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"With a minority government, this term will need to be one of compromise and open-minded discussion. The Scottish Greens will work constructively to improve government proposals but we will also challenge them where necessary.

"Cutting Air Passenger Duty should not be a priority given its negative environmental and social impact. Investment in energy efficient housing, which could slash fuel poverty and tackle climate emissions, must be dramatically increased given the slow progress to date.

"The prospect of a Social Security Bill is welcome and Greens have already proposed constructive ideas for preventing the UK’s sanctioning regime from impacting on people in Scotland. We hope Scottish Ministers take those ideas on board.

"Educational attainment is understandably a priority with strong cross-party support for action, but national policies should funded by national resources, not a raid on local taxation as the Scottish Government have proposed. Tweaks to the unfair, out of date Council Tax with additional revenue taken from councils is not an acceptable approach.

Patrick added:

"Greens continue to support the Scottish Government's efforts to protect Scotland's interests in the Brexit discussions. If it appears that independence is the best way to protect those interests, it is right that Scottish Ministers bring forward a draft Referendum Bill for discussion in this Parliament. Greens will engage constructively with that.

"Today the First Minister gave a commitment to offer an agenda of solidarity in contrast with the UK’s right wing small-state agenda. Greens welcome that intention but delivering on it will require the bolder Parliament we argued for this May, including creative and radical action on fairer taxes at national and local level, protecting public services and closing the wealth gap."