Sat 11 Mar, 2017

Our focus is clear - our councils and the services they deliver matter to people; don’t let the Tory constitutional obsession give them a chance to take hold of your local services – these are the people who would privatise the lot. Patrick Harvie MSP

The success of the Scottish Greens’ six MSPs at Holyrood shows that the party is ready for electoral success in May’s council elections, Patrick Harvie told the Scottish Greens’ spring conference in Glasgow. 

Harvie said that “council services matter” and that the election is a vital choice between “starving them of funds, selling them off”, or “investing in them to make all our communities better”. A poll by Ipsos MORI published earlier this week showed that the party could be set to make council election gains across Scotland. 

The Green co-convener also criticised the Tories’ attempt to turn the council elections into a constitutional debate, but warned that the time to discuss independence will come soon because of the Conservative Party’s drive towards a hard Brexit.

Harvie opened by contrasting the fraternal welcome from Molly Scott Cato MEP and that of London Mayor Sadiq Khan who made comparisons with divisive and racist nationalism with the independence movement at a recent Scottish Labour conference. 

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“We heard Sadiq Khan at the Labour conference, insulting the very voters that Scottish Labour has lost, and should be trying to win back; whether they left Labour because of their alliance with the Tories in 2014, or because of the countless other failings over their years in Government.

“We’re here for those voters, and getting far more done than Labour. It’s depressing what they have been reduced to – and how determined they are to miss the opportunities that a parliament of minorities can offer. I believe that the responsibility of any party is to work to make people’s lives better in the real world, instead of just posturing inside the political bubble. That means putting forward bold and positive new ideas – challenging government, but also trying to make progress where common ground exists.

“Then we heard Theresa May expressing what really deserves to be called “divisive nationalism”; this is the PM who’s turned a narrow margin for Brexit into an excuse to remove our rights to move freely in the EU, and to treat the lives of our friends, neighbours and colleagues as bargaining chips – now accusing others of stoking constitutional grievance.

“This is the UK government which has persistently refused to engage with Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, whether we’re standing up for people being abused in an inhumane immigration system, seeking to protect job centres and other public services, or even trying to question her ministers in Parliament about their reckless Brexit agenda.”

Harvie added:

“It’s the Tories’ reckless Hard Brexit agenda which is pushing Scotland toward making its choice; but the time for that debate will come; for now our focus is clear - our councils and the services they deliver matter to people; don’t let the Tory constitutional obsession give them a chance to take hold of your local services – these are the people who would privatise the lot.

“Our call, for investment in our local services, for the building of strong local economies, and for a renewed local democracy that puts power in people’s hands – this represents a warning to the SNP too – they too need to recognise that our Councils matter, our public services matter; it took Greens to force them to reverse huge cuts to council budgets, and it will still take Greens to make the case for the strong, democratic local government Scotland needs.

“Our focus is clear - our councils and the services they deliver matter to people; don’t let the Tory constitutional obsession give them a chance to take hold of your local services – these are the people who would privatise the lot. Our call, for investment in our local services, for the building of strong local economies, and for a renewed local democracy that puts power in people’s hands represents a warning to the SNP too – they too need to recognise that our Councils matter, our public services matter; it took Greens to force them to reverse huge cuts to council budgets, and it will still take Greens to make the case for the strong, democratic local government Scotland needs.

“It's not just the money – it’s about renewing local democracy; we are leading the case for local tax reform and writing off exploitative local debt, and have new proposals for a fiscal framework. Our councillors have achieved a huge amount. They ensured no-one would be evicted for bedroom tax rent arrears; championed action on empty homes; stood shoulder to shoulder with trade unions and poverty campaigners in defending public services against cuts and privatisation; improved outdoor spaces and sports centres with support for community gardens; led the case for investment in low energy street lighting, renewable energy; delivered extra investment in walking and cycling, and public transport; developed a waste prevention, reuse and recycling for the Council, schools and social work centres; delivered low carbon heating policies, including here in Glasgow City Council and made climate change into a core strategic priority. More Green councillors will achieve so much more.”

 

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