Harvie writes to First Minister over President Trump and extremists
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (17 Aug) wrote to the First Minister and opposition leaders urging a plan of action to counter the confidence that President Trump is giving to extremist groups.
Following the Presidential election in December, Mr Harvie used First Minister's Questions to make the case that Scotland's relationship with the US should be refocussed on states and cities who oppose what Donald Trump stands for, such as his far right associations and his denial of climate change. Following a positive response from the Scottish Government, Mr Harvie today asks Nicola Sturgeon "how we might go further."
In the letter, Mr Harvie, the Scottish Greens' equalities spokesperson, says of the weekend violence in Charlottesville:
"Given that Trump courted the support of the far right during his campaign, and placed far right individuals into positions of power within his administration, we should not feign surprise at these events. He is what we always knew him to be; what has changed is the overtness with which he now speaks and the degree of confidence he has given to his extremist supporters.
"I cannot be alone in having received correspondence from constituents who are not only troubled, but feeling helpless and seeking practical actions they can take. They are right that condemnation alone is not enough, and that as a country with a longstanding close relationship with the US, we have a responsibility to reconsider how we should conduct that relationship in this new and dangerous context.
"I believe that it is extremely important that we begin this discussion now, rather than standing by as the situation worsens, whether in the US or here at home. As many people have already argued, this is a moment of political crisis and neutrality is not an option."
Mr Harvie urges the building of links with progressive groups:
"There are many organisations in Scotland from community groups to trade unions and from single issue campaigns to churches which could make links with others in the US, to ask them how best we can support them and to act in solidarity. The Scottish Government should consider what action it can take to facilitate such efforts, perhaps in concert with the voluntary sector."
He warns the First Minister against any further support for Mr Trump's Scottish business interests:
"I would argue that both on principle and in the interests of avoiding tarnishing Scotland’s own international reputation by association with the Trump brand, the Scottish Government must ensure that no form of political, operational or business support is given to any Trump enterprise in Scotland."
And he suggests the current hate crime review should look at far right symbolism:
"There is currently a review of hate crime under way, and this offers a context for reflection on some steps which might be taken, without leading to an immediate knee-jerk response. The review could, for example, be asked to consider whether the use of Nazi and far right symbols and gestures should be treated specifically as hate crimes, or whether the promotion of far right ideology should be treated as an aggravating factor in criminal offences, in the same way that prejudice is treated."