Fri 21 Oct, 2016

The government missed a key opportunity to prove its progressive credentials by reforming the Council Tax and support Green proposals for a fairer alternative, but there will be many more tests to come. Patrick Harvie MSP

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, will tell his party's Autumn Conference in Perth today (21 Oct) that the minority Scottish Government will not be able to sit in the political centre for the full parliamentary term and will soon have to choose between progressive support from the Greens or side with the right-wing Tories.

The audience at the Perth Concert Hall will also hear how the party, by replicating the positive result of this year's Holyrood election at next year's council elections, can transform communities by bringing power back to local people.

In May the number of Green MSPs trebled from two to six, making the party the fourth largest in the parliament. Green MSPs have already achieved results, including:

-A young carer's grant, a Green manifesto proposal, is being explored by the Scottish Government.
-Parliament voted for an amendment by Andy Wightman MSP calling for an end fuel poverty, more community renewables, further action on land ownership and an end to fracking.
-Patrick's longstanding concerns about government backbenchers serving as ministerial aides and sitting on committees which scrutinise those ministers resulted in a change of approach by the First Minister.
-Parliament voted for an amendment by Ross Greer MSP calling for devolution of asylum support and accommodation.
-Scottish Ministers agree that benefit sanctions should not be applied when employment schemes are devolved next year. This follows research and campaigning by Alison Johnstone.
–Alison secured a commitment from the Health Secretary for the national roll-out of a Glasgow project - Healthier, Wealthier Children – to boost incomes for vulnerable families.
-Greens have helped bring about votes in the chamber and in committee highlighting concerns about the flawed proposals from the government to keep the discredited Council Tax.
-After years of pressure from Greens, the government announced it would block any applications for underground coal gasification.
-The First Minister stands with us in supporting Scottish companies who refuse to comply with Tory plans for "racist registers" of foreign workers.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"It's only been a few months since the election but already the Green MSP team is delivering on our pledge to make Holyrood bolder and Scotland better. The parliamentary arithmetic combined with the talent and ambition we have in our group means we're helping set the agenda.

"With Scotland on the verge of being removed from the EU against our wishes, being stuck with a clueless and divisive Westminster government, and with the hateful and divisive Trump presidential campaign, Green principles of compassion, equality and openness are needed more than ever. We will play our part in making Scotland's voice heard, and we will continue to build the case for an outward-looking independent Scotland within the EU.

“We recognise that a minority government must work toward some degree of consensus across parliament and I promise that our engagement with the SNP will always be constructive. The government missed a key opportunity to prove its progressive credentials by reforming the Council Tax and support Green proposals for a fairer alternative, but there will be many more tests to come, including on aviation policy, where it’s unthinkable that the First Minister could set a credible green agenda while backing Heathrow expansion and cutting Air Passenger Duty.

“So to the SNP, we will offer our support if they commit to meaningful, progressive change in Scotland, using the limited powers of the parliament; if they don't take that opportunity they risk being remembered as a timid government that caved-in to pressure from big business and sided with the Tories.”

Turning to the local elections in 2017, Patrick said:

"As we address global challenges we will also focus on winning a record level of local representation. At the Scottish council elections in May next year we have a chance to build on this year's success and make breakthroughs that help bring power back to people. Green councillors make a huge difference to their communities and it is vital we increase our influence to protect our public services.”

 

Patrick Harvie’s speech will be at 14:30 today (21 Oct).

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