As MSPs today joined those marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which first gave some women the right to vote in UK elections, Alison Johnstone, co-founder of the Women 50:50 campaign that aims for gender balance in Scottish elected office, spoke for the Greens in the ‘Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Right to Vote’ debate.
The full text of Alison's speech is included below.
Foxes are being hunted by dogs in Scotland and it’s clear that existing laws are unable to stop it.
I’ve seen the sickening evidence. Investigators for the League Against Cruel sports have filmed harrowing footage showing that mounted hunts are still using hounds to run down and tear apart foxes in the same way they did when the Scottish Parliament passed laws intended to ban hunting with dogs in 2002.
Air pollution is a true invisible killer. We take the air around us for granted, but just as fish depend on clean water, clean air is obviously vital for our health and the health of our wider environment.
Back in the 1950s, smog was all too visible, and the deaths from it were front page news. The notorious Great Smog of London, even though it lasted just five days, is now believed to have killed as many as 12,000 people, and it led to the 1956 Clean Air Act.
Waiting for universal credit payments may put over 23,000 low income families in the UK at risk of destitution this winter. Demand on food banks is rising, and applicants are left distressed and confused by complex applications. The calamitous roll out of universal credit shows our benefits system at its disjointed worst.
Alison has joined local campaigners and leading animal welfare charity OneKind, in calling for a halt to plans to open a new greyhound racing track in Wallyford, East Lothian.
In March, plans for a car park and 94 ‘high end’ houses to enable development of the stadium, at the site originally identified for business use, were approved by councillors after an application for development was rejected in 2011, with that decision overturned by the Scottish Government on appeal.
The schools are back and a new session of Parliament beckons. While most people will have had a break with family and friends, summer isn't such an enjoyable time for all. Many families face the extra cost of meals and activities which would usually be provided at school.
Last July and August, Trussell Trust UK provided 4,412 more three-day emergency food parcels for children than during the previous two months. 27% of these went to children younger than 4, including newborns, and I fear that we will see similar numbers this year.
Analysis by Heriot-Watt University has hit the headlines, warning that the so-called “opportunity” for fracking has been “over-hyped”. This adds weight to the case for a permanent ban on the practice.
Drilling into the ground beneath our communities and fracturing the rocks to enable gas to escape is something Scottish Greens have fought since it was first proposed. Opening up an extra source of fossil fuel makes no sense if we’re serious about reducing climate change emissions and limiting the damage that will be caused by rising global temperatures.
“I am worried sick about these charges and am falling into a depression myself.”
Just one of the responses to a consultation on extending free personal care to people under-65 with debilitating conditions such as dementia.
Maureen’s words bring home the reality for far too many people. She says she has been forced to give up work to look after her husband because of the high cost of someone else doing it but says that without wages she can’t afford the upkeep of specialist equipment including a bed, toilet and mobility scooter.
This week's Scottish Government report, highlighted by Patrick Harvie at First Minister's Questions, on the impact of UK welfare reforms makes for very sobering reading. It shows that a very large number of reforms – including, but not limited to the freeze on the value of benefits; the two-child limit on Child Tax Credits; the Benefit Cap; the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance for most claimants, and the Bedroom Tax – are removing thousands of pounds from Scottish households, many of them containing our very poorest and most vulnerable people.
Brexit and independence dominated the General Election campaign. Brexit deservedly so as it poses a huge risk to our social and environmental protections, our economy and public services, while the independence obsession of the pro-UK parties diverted attention from the Tories’ track record in office.
In particular, I’m disappointed there wasn’t more scrutiny of Westminster’s welfare reforms which have had a hugely negative impact on disabled people.