As Green activists gather in Glasgow this weekend for our spring conference, there will be a shiver of excitement in the air. Partly that’s because they read the same polls you did yesterday, showing the independence argument on a knife-edge. Partly it’s because we see that issue looking more and more likely to offer Scotland an escape route from the UK’s Brexit nightmare.
Scotland’s political landscape has been reacting this week to the BBC’s proposals to create a new TV channel for Scotland, with a nightly news programme combining domestic and international news from a Scottish perspective.
Yesterday we saw the biggest budget concession in Holyrood's history, a deal for councils that would not have been possible without the hard work of the Green MSPs. It shows that it's possible for parties to stay true to their aims while finding common ground in the interests of the public.
The result is that Green MSPs have achieved more in a single budget than the Labour Party has in a decade of opposition.
The debate about economic inequality took a new turn this week, with coverage of the GINI coefficient, which measures how unequal each country is. Despite the widespread feeling that the gap between rich and poor has kept getting wider, new figures for the UK seem to show no significant change over the last decade or so. It’s worth thinking about what these figures mean.
There are not many greater examples of why a country needs a principled, effective opposition than that of the feeble Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster. The Tories have created so much uncertainty over our future relationship with Europe and Theresa May’s government is going unchallenged as she begins to implement tax cuts for big corporations and fossil fuel giants.
For years, pro-independence politicians in Scotland have pointed to economic injustice coming from successive UK Governments, and demanded the power to do something about it. This is something which the SNP and the Greens have long agreed on.
Amid all the big disagreements in Scottish politics, there are still some areas of common ground. From arch Brexiteers to committed Europeans, from Union flag wavers to those still wearing Yes badges, and from austerity cheerleaders on the Tory benches to left-leaners who passionately believe in a new economic vision for the country; pretty much everyone agrees about one thing. We have a woefully low level of productivity.
Sometimes in politics a simple phrase gets lodged into everyone’s consciousness, framing a debate. This is sometimes deliberate, but it can happen by accident too. As Scotland approaches the first budget in which meaningful tax decisions will be made, one example of this needs to be challenged.
Recently I wrote how disappointed many people would be at the timid tweaks to council tax agreed by parliament. Local services deserve a firmer financial footing. To add to that, this week I published a report detailing Scotland’s 32 local authorities’ huge amounts of unethical and unsustainable long-term debt, which currently totals £11.5bn.