I previously wrote in the Evening News (Food for thought and a little thought for food) in support of calls from the Scottish Food Coalition for a right to food to be enshrined in Scots Law, to address our dependency on foodbanks to provide for people in our wealthy, food-producing nation.
An MSP’s year has some very regular milestones. The Programme for Government every September; the process of negotiating the annual budget either side of Christmas, and the recess periods when MSPs finish their work in the chamber and in committees, but which offer us more time to get out and about visiting constituents and organisations in the areas we represent.
Last week I was pleased to meet constituents from across Lothian region to listen to their calls for stronger action on climate change.
Members of the public from every region of Scotland took part and called on their MSPs to strengthen the new Climate Change Bill being considered by the Scottish Parliament. The Mass Climate Lobby was organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), a coalition of civil society organisations campaigning together on climate change.
“In Dundee traffic is building up on the North side of the Tay Road Bridge. In Glasgow the M8 Eastbound has slow traffic between junction 22 Plantation and 19 Anderston, and in Edinburgh there’s heavy traffic on the A90 Queensferry Road…”
Three-quarters of a century ago, the economist and social reformer William Beveridge identified five issues that needed to be tackled to make a better Britain. He declared that there were five giant evils on the road to reconstruction: poverty, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. To defeat these giants, he proposed setting up a welfare state with social security, a national health service, free education, council housing and full employment.
HAPPY World Oceans Day. Well, maybe not happy. The UN says that eight million tonnes of plastic each year ends up in the ocean, wreaking havoc on wildlife and causing £5bn in damage to marine ecosystems each year.
There’s no doubt the UK’s social security system makes a mockery of its name. It often undermines people’s security, leaving them dependent on charities to put food on the table, and it does not afford its users the dignity and respect we would hope for in a fair society.
This week, Scotland has a chance to take a different approach. The Scottish Government’s Social Security Bill, covering aspects of newly-devolved powers, is an opportunity to put dignity and respect at heart of how people are treated.
The Scottish Government have this week asked the public to comment on whether compulsory CCTV cameras should be installed in abattoirs, a key protection for livestock that Greens have long called for. The UK Government has already decided to adopt this measure, and by this summer footage from all abattoirs in England will be available to vets from the Food Standards Agency.