A Big Green Yes

P_green_LI’m writing to say thank you to the 108,305 who voted Green last Thursday. Thank you so much for your warm welcome around the country, for your kind words throughout and after the campaign, for the political discussions you have had with friends and family. Thank you for voting with hope and ambition, for a Scotland that provides for the many not just the rich, welcomes new Scots from around the world, and stands for peace.

Thanks especially to the many volunteers who gave up their time, energy, and in some cases sleep for the campaign. Your work delivered the Greens’ biggest ever share of the vote across Scotland, and (if I can be selfish for a moment) made me feel overwhelmingly supported and proud, and hopeful for the future.

By voting Green in such numbers you have shown that there is a great and rapidly growing demand for a Green future. We’ve proved that more and more Scots want a nation that beats back poverty and inequality, that reclaims power from big business and returns it to the people, and in which our own generation and those to come can expect happy, secure and creative lives. But more than that: despite politicians’ insistence that ‘there is no alternative’, and the never-ending counsel of despair from the media, we’ve proved that we still believe that nation can be made real.

We can’t escape the grimmer news that this election returned a UKIP MEP, the first election victory in Scotland, at any level, for the far-right party. The vision of UKIP and their fellow travellers is the polar opposite of ours, a vision of fear, hatred and greed.

To drive UKIP from Scotland, we have to take them head-on. The pandering and cowardice of the big UK parties, first to the BNP and now to UKIP, is what got us in this position in the first place. We must not apologise for defending freedom of movement or the right to refuge; we will not join the reality TV assault on the casualties of inequality and poverty. We must defy, loudly and often, UKIP’s attempt to blame the victims

But there is blame to be carried. It’s just in the wrong place. People are angry about the way in which our common wealth is withheld from them, and scared about a future they have been told is nothing but austerity and decline. UKIP’s politics of nihilism and division is sown in that soil, and its job there is to ensure that we never point the finger at those who are really to blame: the same people who fund UKIP handsomely to do that job.

While wages have stood still and bills have risen over the past 6 years, Britain’s wealthiest 1000 people have seen their fortune rise by £100bn during ‘austerity’. Cuts to the top rate of tax and to corporation tax, cut-price privatisation giveaways, and the ‘help to buy’ scheme have all added to the wealth of the already rich. We must make sure that people know this is where their money has gone. The crisis is due to the rich, the owners of of our economy; not the low paid, the unemployed, or the immigrant.

This is not a message we can just rely on the media to communicate. Almost all of the big papers are owned by the same moneyed interests who are leading the victimisation of the vulnerable. And in any case, a message of equality and democracy is ill-suited to being preached from a high media pulpit. Instead we need to build a mass movement, communicating that message one to another. In workplaces, around kitchen tables, at pubs throughout the country – that’s where we’ll make the case for redistribution of wealth, for a safe and healthy environment, and for the right of people to live where they wish.

I think we can see the beginnings of that movement in the Radical Independence Campaign, and we can find many of the ideas we need to respond to the immediate crisis in the Common Weal. The Greens can add a long-term vision that goes beyond what politicians from the establishment parties are comfortable with right now, pushing them forward. And Greens can provide the opportunity to support those ideas at the ballot box, form oppositions that challenge governments to meet our hopes and ambitions every day, and, where given the opportunity, put these ideas into practice directly.

To do that we need always to be unapologetic about what we stand for. Managerial politicians can slink into office without anyone really noticing, tinker with a few details while they’re there, and retire into obscurity. But radical democratic change needs people who will fight for their ideals and values. We can’t expect people to rally to a banner that has never been raised.

The independence referendum is our first opportunity to proclaim the Scotland we want. If we are bold in this campaign, and after the victory as negotiations begin and a constitution is drafted, we have the opportunity for a country shaped by and for the people. If we mumble, ashamed of dreams we have been told we don’t deserve, it will be shaped by the officials and the lobbyists.

As well as playing an active part in Yes Scotland, Radical Independence, National Collective, Women for Independence and the other parts of the diverse Yes community, Greens will be running our own Green Yes campaign that will be a standard-bearer for that distinct, progressive vision. Trying to sneak out out of the union without alarming corporate bosses, NATO strategists or the Royal Family is not for us.

We are going to win the referendum. But even if the vote is lost, the genie of Scotland’s radical ambition that the referendum has released will not be put back in its bottle. Win or lose, the referendum is just the start of the fight for the Scotland we deserve.

Again, thank you. You’ve done so much, but now I have to ask you to do a little more. I believe another Scotland is possible and I think you do too, so please join the Scottish Greens and help us make it a reality.

Comments (22)

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  1. Steve Dickson says:

    As a Lib/Dem voter for nearly 30 years (and I vote in EVERY election I am registered for) I was in a personal electoral void/wilderness after Nick Clegg decided to make his deal with the devil. I could not in all consciousness vote for that party again, ever.

    Luckily one day I heard Patrick Harvie speak at an independence Q&A session and I was hooked.

    What I would like to say in answer to your first sentence is, no THANK YOU for opening my eyes to what you believe in and THANK YOU for giving what you all do of yourselves in obvious selfless acts to protect the rest of mankind from themselves and their “I’m alright” stupidity.

  2. Craig Brown says:

    Many of us, as you are well aware, voted tactically in the Euro elections (or so we intended) and after the Yes vote will be able to give our full support to the Greens. Secure independence – create a democracy – vote as we like. Ah the simple things in life.

  3. Peter A Bell says:

    While Maggie Chapman understandably bemoans the fact that Ukip has been allowed to sully Scotland’s politics, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that if just a few of those 108,305 who voted Green last Thursday had put party loyalty aside and voted SNP instead we could have been spared this disgrace.

    1. Andrew Watson says:

      Just think, if only a few of those 389,503 who voted SNP had put party loyalty aside and voted Green we could have been spared this disgrace.

      It cuts both ways, folk CANNOT pin this on the Greens. It’s daft.

  4. YESGUY says:

    Oh Peter thats spot on.

    I ran eye over every site and the belief was the greens would not get enough to win but SNP would have a better chance and i voted accordingly. It’s the first time i have voted tactically before and it was close.

    Still i see the UKIP as catalyst to the YES voters and undecided as we know the impact they had in rUk.

    Indi Scotland will see a large rise in green voters and SNP will no doubt disband as they have completed their task. Politics in Scotland is under the microscope and many now are much better informed . Its a different story elsewhere as voter apathy rife. But here there will be new parties, new policy’s and the momentum of the referendum will drive us on .

    Scotland will “rise and be a nation again”

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      To see the Ukip win in Scotland as a “catalyst” that might aid the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status is to see a rather tarnished silver lining in a very dark cloud.

  5. I volunteered as one of the Green representatives in Hyndland on polling day. Almost everyone in the area claimed to vote Green, with those who didn’t stating that they would after a Yes vote. It’s important to note that no other parties’ representatives showed up on the day, and voters said they’d only received leaflets and so on from the Greens. Imagine if the same Green effort spread throughout Scotland, rather than focusing solely on well off, well educated, and traditionally liberal areas.

  6. YESGUY says:

    very true Peter but i have to look for any light these days with constant bombardment of “propaganda” and spin. Too may times i have switched on the tv and felt utter despair at the way we “informed ” . Online we can get other often more accurate info but it’s constantly negative info we are fighting.

    The UKIP wont last here. Far too many people i spoke to just didn,t care enough , the referendum is the important thing. It gave the UKIP an advantage and along with the incredible amount of TV airtime, You could see it coming. I was led to believe they won 10% of a vote with a turn out of around 30% of the populace. A small amount even by our standards. next day many undecided had yet another reason to vote YES. It will work in our favour.

    And yes it does sully a silver cloud somewhat but this is now a war . Look at the language and depth of threats being thrown at the Scottish people for daring to have a referendum. It is a dirty abusive campaign and if we have to fight back we must get our hands dirty. If Scotland is to gain it’s independence , we need to do more than just show up their lies. I hope the whole country is scared now we have seen UKIP run away down south. I hope they are terrified with the thought of a racist , homophobic utter useless UK govt is just around the corner if we vote NO. I hope they realise that even independence will leave us a fascist state over the border. if Sotland is to be scared then show them whats happening down south.

    I dont care how we get there Peter , Not any more. Just get there and we can sort the rest out. By hook or by crook. the cost of a NO terrifies me.

  7. florian albert says:

    ‘To drive UKIP from Scotland, we must take them head-on.’ That is exactly what was attempted by the Scottish left, led by R I C.
    The result was an increase in UKIP’s vote from 58,000 to 140,000. That is failure to compare with Terry Butcher’s at Hibs.
    With a couple of hundred thousand unemployed, many working class Scots see large scale immigration as being against their interests.
    The Scottish left would do well to face up to that.

    1. Bruce says:

      Look at Sweden to see the effect of large scale immigration. Immigration itself is not necessarily a bad thing but I think it is reasonable to ensure a certain degree of “compatibility” before immigrants can come here. Skilled people welcome, medieval religious dogma not welcome. English language mandatory.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        Do you assume that Scots should accept the same level of ‘compatibility’ when going and settling abroad?

      2. Bruce says:

        Yes, I think it would be reasonable to expect I would have to meet certain standards to assure entry to another country. Doesn’t Australia have certain entry requirements already?
        When I say compatibility I have in mind the following, which is of course pure conjecture on my part.
        Post WW2 Scotland had a reasonably large influx of people from Poland and Italy. These people were assimilated without too much bother because they don’t look that much different from us and shared similar religious faiths. Compare and contrast with what has happened in areas of the UK which have seen mass immigration of people from predominantly Muslim countries. These people often don’t look as much like us (shouldn’t matter but often does in real life) and often have religious beliefs which are incompatible with every other faith on the planet. These areas often become ghettoised rather than integrated, intentionally so. Couple this with an international Islamic political movement and you have the perfect recipe for future unrest.
        I do not propose a “fortress Scotland” merely that we are not naive to the societal effects of unchecked immigration. Before I am shouted down for my non pc racism etc etc let me just say I wish we lived in a world where everyone got along and everything was cuddly, but we don’t and we have to realise that.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Your ignorance of Islam does you no credit at all. Far from being “incompatible with every other faith on the planet”, Islam shares common roots with the other Abrahamic religions – Christianity and Judaism. If you are going to comment on such matters do yourself a favour and at least glance at a relevant Wikipedia article first.

          It is ignorance such as you display which is the real barrier to integration.

      3. Bruce says:

        Groan….. I know the Abrahamic root to Islam. In your haste to attack me you have forgotten to try and understand what it is I’m trying to say.
        Not trying to get into a religious discussion but do you really think Islam, Judaism and Christianity teach tolerance and understanding of one another?

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Kindly leave me out of your sectarian shit-stirring.

  8. Scott MacDonald says:

    Well done Maggie, you should be proud of what you achieved and not at all disheartened by the result. If it hadn’t been for the UKIP effect and the tactical SNP vote I am sure you would have pulled it off.

  9. Political Tourist says:

    Anybody blaming the Green Party for the UKIP needs to re-examine their politics.
    Shades of the Labour Party for decades in Scotland.
    We voted Labour in our tens of thousands and ended up with Maggie and co.
    The reality is there’s a nasty right-wing element across Scotland.
    It might have been beaten down over the years because of lack of empathy over the years from Maggie and her ilk.
    It sure looks like it’s back.
    And wee Ruth Davidson ain’t leading it.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      Recognising the fact that Ukip would not have won that seat had more Green and LibDem voters voted tactically for the SNP is not a matter of blame or even politics. It is a matter of acknowledging the reality and accepting the arithmetic.

  10. Douglas says:

    This seemed to me to be a lacklustre campaign from both the Greens and the SNP, though maybe I am being unfair.

    First and foremost, would it not have been an advantage for the Greens and the SNP to stand on the same ticket on this occasion? I don’t know how easy that would have been at the practical level, but we would certainly have kept UKIP out that way. And we would have gained momentum for the referendum. Was that ever a serious possibility, does anybody know?

    In terms of the wider issue of Europe and UKIP’s discourse, it can only be answered by left wing politics. The shabby treatment of low paid workers, the abysmal minimum wage, the housing crisis, zero hour contracts, the demise of the trade unionism, these are the things which create insecurity, fear and resentment among working people much more than the arrival of European immigrants.

    These are all the politics supported by the Tories and the Labour Party, no wonder they have no answer to UKIP, it is their policies which led to UKIP appearing in the first place.

    In the wider context, the EU have been asking for this massive European wide protest which finds its expression in UKIP in these isles for a long time. We get Mr Barroso saying how much he wants the UK to stay in the EU, and the next day telling us that it would “impossible” for Scotland to join. So, Barroso, as the Head of the Commission, is not a man you can take seriously.

    Worth mentioning too, with regard to RIC, the spectacular result of Podemos (We Can) in Spain. A grassroots party which has sprung from the indignados movement and which took 12% of the national vote and 6 seats at its first ever election.

    Worth mentioning too that, instead of drawing the 6,000 monthly salary Euro MP’s get paid each month, Podemos’ six Euro MP’s have capped their salary at three times the minimum wage, which means that they will be getting paid close to 2,000 Euros a month, with the rest going back into the party and/or into social causes.

    That is what I call progressive politics, politics as a public service.

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