Sat 29 Jun, 2019

Even though Scots voted for the parliament to have tax-raising powers in 1998, it took pressure from the Scottish Greens for a party of government to have the courage to actually use it Patrick Harvie

Scottish Greens are celebrating 20 years of the Scottish Parliament leading the UK on Green issues.

As members of the public visit Holyrood to mark the 20th birthday of the Scottish Parliament, co-leaders of the Greens MSP group Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone will join others in welcoming them.

Robin Harper took his seat in 1999 to become the first elected Green parliamentarian in the UK, trailblazing the way for nine other Green MSPs in the following years, a number of Scottish Green councillors and victory in England for Caroline Lucas and Green Party MEPs.

At the beginning, Harper was quick to push for commitments on renewable energy, and it has been a long road for other parties to catch up.

With the current crop of Green MSPs, the party have exerted greater influence on Scotland than ever before. Through budget agreements the Scottish Greens introduced a new progressive income tax system, increased green infrastructure spend and have secured £428 million additional funding for local government since the last election.

The party has also won commitments to give more powers to councils to raise their own revenue through things like levies on tourism or parking.

And of course, the Greens continue to push the government to be more radical in tackling climate change and on land reform.

Speaking ahead of the celebration, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “As a youth worker working on repealing section 28, I saw a new parliament whose doors were open and where we as citizens felt able to enter and participate in the decision-making process.

“Now, 20 years later, I’m really looking forward to celebrating the Scottish Parliament as the place which also brought Green politics onto the law-making stage.

“The Scottish Greens have been there since the beginning, and we’ve made our mark. We’ve shown that we can work constructively with government to help the people of Scotland and protect our environment, while other parties retreat to tribal point-scoring.

“Even though Scots voted for the parliament to have tax-raising powers in 1998, it took pressure from the Scottish Greens for a party of government to have the courage to actually use it, introducing our five-band tax system in 2018.

“But as demonstrated last week, there is still more work to do. On the planning bill, the hard work of Andy Wightman on short-term lets and hill trails was undermined by the SNP siding with the Tories.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has declared a climate emergency but has yet to come up with any meaningful action.

“As our influence grows, the Scottish Greens will continue to push for a substantial Green new deal which can secure a sustainable future for Scotland’s next 20 years, as well as champion equality and campaign for independence for a real purpose.”

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