Kermit the frog once famously remarked that “It's not easy being green”. Sometimes that feels pretty close to the truth.
One of the most familiar experiences for Greens in politics is how long we have to work on our priorities before other parties to eventually catch up. It can often feel like our policies are launched ten years ahead of their time, giving us a decade to campaign for what feels like radical action after which someone else pinches our policy and it becomes accepted wisdom.
Party conference season is upon us. With Theresa May’s farcical performance in Manchester earlier this week, every other leader can be confident that’d be hard put to do any worse. This weekend it’s the turn of the SNP, whose members will no doubt be eager for some positive, upbeat announcements to cheer.
The first of these was announced on Tuesday; the temporary moratorium on fracking and other forms of extreme energy production will be extended. These technologies will not be deployed in Scotland, and this will certainly feature prominently in the First Ministers speech.
Last week I signed up, as over 10,000 people have this summer, to the Plate Up for the Planet campaign. It’s a 7-day pledge to try out a vegan diet, and the idea got a few of us in the Green Group interested. As today is the last day of my pledge, I wanted to get a few thoughts down on how I’ve found it and what, if anything, it might change for me.
I promise not to ask readers of the National for any more favours (at least until next month) if you could all do me one tiny thing today: respond to the Scottish Government’s climate change bill consultation before it closes at midnight.
Over the summer I’ve spoken with both supporters and critics of the SNP who agree that the mood has been somewhat flat in recent years, compared with the more dynamic and innovative years of their first spell of minority government from 2007-11. The First Minister seemed to recognise this, indicating over the recess that her government had a need for a reset.
Summer, such as it is, nears an end; politicians are gearing up for a return to debating chambers around the country. Councillors have returned already, sadly including the racist and sectarian ones whose leader Ruth Davidson seems to regard their voting numbers as more important than any principle. Holyrood and Westminster will start their business again at the start of September. Not before time.
Much has been made this summer of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which began to partially decriminalise same-sex relationships. Those caveats are important of course: the Act didn’t apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or indeed to a great many people beyond a precisely defined exemption from prosecution.
“May I say just one more thing Prime Minister; if you must do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”
So spoke the fictional, and now almost legendary civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in perhaps his bluntest ever advice in an episode of Yes, Prime Minister. It’s a warning which has been coming to mind a lot recently, and it could have been made specifically about the disastrous decision to take the UK out of the European Union, and the damn silly way in which it’s being done.
"President Trump is pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement. How will the panellists deal with that?” Coming in the closing stages of the election campaign’s final UK-wide televised leaders’ debate on Wednesday evening, this question was followed by the presenter asking for it to be answered “briefly”.
Holyrood is in recess this week, but a recess that comes just a month before Scotland goes to the polls in the council elections was never going to be a quiet time! I’ll be getting out around the country over the coming weeks, but recently I’ve been campaigning with our Green candidates in my home city of Glasgow.