Fairer, Greener and Healthier

scotland-can-banner‘Fairer, greener and healthier’ – that’s the core pitch of the Scottish Green Party manifesto. It’s an apple-pie trio of aspirations that’s difficult to challenge. There’s two other key ideas that run through the SGP message. First they argue that the Holyrood parliament needs to be bolder and more ambitious within the current settlement and second that “Holyrood – and Scotland – needs diverse politics and progressive champions to hold the biggest parties to account.”

It’s important for parties that are clearly not going to form a government to position themselves, and the Greens have successfully done so as the bulwark against any backtracking on Fracking and on other key issues such as housing and land reform. In the last few years they have successfully redefined themselves beyond being a single-issue party to one that has a track-record of articulate championing of social justice, LGBT rights and a coherent set of policies about local democracy.

The palpable green surge in the polls – is predicated on three other factors. It’s supported by Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone’s obvious competence in Holyrood over the last five years, by a host of quality candidates such as Andy Wightman (Lothian list) and Sarah-Beattie Smith (South of Scotland), and thirdly by having come out of the Yes campaign with respect and integrity and having cast-off the ambiguity on the constitutional question that previously undermined them.

sb13 copyUnsurprisingly its the Environment that sits centre-stage for the Greens, though it does now need to jostle for its place amongst the other policies in a way that sometimes seems quite odd. They say: “The environment is the foundation of our society and economy. We have a responsibility to use our natural resources sustainably to meet both our own needs and the needs of future generations. The Scottish Greens propose policies to revitalise our food systems, protect environmental resources, and support society to respond to the challenges of climate change.” They are virtually the only party that has anything interesting to say about food and farming – proposing a Food Farming and Health Act to ‘reshape food systems’. It proposes: ‘to provide the basis for a new social contract between citizens, farmers, food producers and the wider industry; set a range of targets such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food production; address rising food insecurity amongst Scotland’s poorest; establish a statutory commission to monitor progress and report annually to Parliament; incorporate the Right to Food in Scots law, as set out in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.’ This is a holistic bold and essential set of ideas. The challenge will be political, to what extent the Greens can have this agenda advanced by influencing the SNP.

In Culture the SGP have the most innovative set of ideas of all the parties that we can see. They have put forward to: “encourage the use of publicly-owned empty space for cultural activity, and support ‘right of first occupancy’ and ‘community right-to-buy’ legislation to protect formal and informal venues for cultural activity and live performance across Scotland.” They argue for gender equality in the media pointing out that ‘In 2013, men held 95% of editorial positions and 100% of political editorial positions in the UK’s daily newspapers.’   They aim to raise funds through a Overnight Visitor Levy (though I don’t see the detail of how much this would raise). They have led the way on Community Sport and argue for the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour in Football Act (2012).

Housing has been a distinct focus for the Greens. Under their proposals tenants would be protected by a new housing watchdog with the power to punish rogue landlords and set rent levels. They point out that it’s not just just a case of building more homes but controlling the shambles of the rip-off rental market.

The plans for a ‘circular economy’ seem underdeveloped at best. The ‘Moving to a circular economy’ section of the manifesto mentions the Green MSPs campaign for a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles but little else.

On Jobs and the Economy the Greens argue convincingly for the transition away from an oil-based economy: “With skills in sub-sea engineering concentrated in Aberdeen we have an opportunity to excel in offshore wind, tidal and wave energy. The Scottish Greens’ Jobs in Scotland’s New Economy report, published in 2015, demonstrates how to create over 200,000 new jobs by 2035, compared with the 156,000 jobs currently provided by the Scottish fossil fuel extraction industry.”

This shift isn’t just vital for our environment. A more diverse economy and energy policy will strengthen the case for independence and takes away the charge that we are a small nation over-dependent on a volatile petro-chemical.

There’s gaps and inconsistencies in the Greens manifesto and some of it seems policy-thin. They have had their internal struggles and the risk of both diluting their ideas and veering towards focusing on a few key individuals is palpable.

But the innovation and relative radicalism they offer and the quality of many of their candidates shines through. The case for an infusion of renegade pro-indy Greens into the Holyrood parliament is overwhelming.

Comments (44)

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  1. Bryan Weir says:

    Not going to happen.

  2. Justin Kenrick says:

    Going to happen! (your turn)

  3. Steve says:

    Something in between the previous two comments

    1. Justin Kenrick says:


      1. Bryan Weir says:

        SNP supporters who choose not to vote SNP 1 and 2 are perfectly entitled to do so but they must reflect on the fact that that they are voting contrary to the advice of the party they primarily support.

        1. John Page says:

          “Perfectly entitled” ah gee thanks……
          Sounds like you are being patronising and telling people what to do……..never a good strategy

          1. Bryan Weir says:

            I was not being patronising and I was not telling anyone what to do. I was merely pointing out that if you are an SNP supporter then perhaps it may be a good idea to vote as they advise.

            With regard to telling people what to do, isn’t that what this article is doing? I don’t hear you criticising Bella for publishing it?

          2. Bella’s editorial stance has never been to support any one political party Bryan, we support independence and ideas to transform Scotland. Independence of mind always better than following orders.

          3. John Page says:

            Touchy is not quite apt……..bored shitless would be more accurate……with a succession of spillovers from Wings who don’t contribute ideas or thinking in the context of the eclectic range of Bella articles but who bore for Scotland in using words like undermine, threaten, split etc in repeating the tedious SNP*2 message. The cumulative impact of all of that is disrespectful and alienating and smacks of the entitlement that once pervaded Labour in Scotland. How dare they speak of splitting the SNP vote……sorry? When did you think you can take my vote for granted? I might lend you my vote for now and I might also give my (and I emphasise “my”) second vote to the Scottish Greens as my (and once again I emphasise “my”) considered thinking is that independence, climate change and planetary resource boundaries are all vitally important issues.
            The big factor that I will take from this election is the squalid behaviour of the SNP*2 trolls.

        2. John Page says:

          Don’t ever tell me what I must reflect on……okay?

          1. Bryan Weir says:

            OK I won’t but if you have a moment have a look at your reflection in the water under the bridge. 😉

          2. John says:

            Calm down dear .

          3. John says:

            The calm down was for John Page .

        3. John Page says:

          Firstly you ooze a sense of supercilious bumptiousness about your SNP*2 boring chorus then you and your pal try to be funny…….gies peace
          I wonder how many Indy supporters you will alienate between now and Thursday?

          1. John says:

            Very touchy aren’t you .

  4. Justin Kenrick says:

    But, on a more serious note, THE most crucial thing is we have a good turn out, and not a lower turnout that means the right takes more votes and seats.

    This is where RISE and the Greens also matter, especially given the success of RIC in motivating people to get out and vote in the IdyRef and the 2015 General Election.

    Worrying that the Sunday Herald trumpets on its front page: ‘With a Holyrood win guaranteed, SNP leader sets sights on . . . ” That concerns me: it’s understandable that this is a much quieter election than the previous one, but it’s vital folk get out and vote – for me that’s SNP 1st because they are the ones holding the door open to the future, and Green 2nd because they are showing why it’s worth walking through that door. But that is just me, we are stronger in our diversity than in any of us telling others how to vote.

  5. Clive Scott says:

    Post Indy the Greens may have something to offer. Pre Indy they are simply prolonging Westminster rule by diluting SNP electoral advantage. SNP X 2 on May 5th and SNP in every election thereafter until independence is achieved.

    1. Iain Boyle says:

      I do not get this philosophy of independence first change after. I want independence as much as anyone but until we get there let’s make Scotland a better place. We have a devolved parliament and until we get independence there’s only so much we can do but we can still do things – land reform, rent controls, tax reform etc. The SNP don’t seem very interested in making bold progressive policies when the majority of yes supporters do.

      1. Mike says:

        When you have less than your full fiscal potential to work with you cant afford to be bold progressive and adventurous. That’s why we need Independence in the first place so we can get into the position of being able to afford bold progressive adventurous ideals and policies.

        If we could be bold progressive and adventurous why would we need Independence to begin with?

      2. John Edgar says:

        We all want these “progressive” polices and more. But bear in mind these progressive policies and more are anti Westminster. Westminster is still in control of the commanding heights of our economy, macro-fiscal policy, foreign policy, defence using Trident, oil policy.
        To be truly radical, indeed to be even truly centre in a Scottish context, we still need to be independent! Full sovereign power in an international context as other countries are is the necessary step. Holyrood is not represented, even acknowledged by other sovereign states. It is a devolved administration in the 1707 incorporated Union. Anglo- is the term used by Westminster in foreign treaties and in referring to relations with other countries!
        The Slovaks were in Czechoslovakia. The only gained international recignition and full diplomatic status when they broke from Czechoslovakia. That fundamental status is important. Until we can say No in an international context, we get nowhere.
        INDEPENDENCE FIRST ABOVE ALL ELSE. At present, we are learning to govern after being an insignificant part of North Britain as far as the rest of independent sovereign nations were and are concerned. We are also starting with SNP governments to throw off our cottar mentality. The unionist parties do not recognize Scotland. They are unionists first and foremost. North Briitishers! Westminsterites, who will connive and spin to deny Scotland. They are minor entities in their own UK parties.

    2. John says:

      Absolutely , I don’t know why Bella is so insistent that we split the SNP votes pre-indy . Surely we must get a good strong SNP majority at Hollyrood , prove good governance , get Independence seeking people up to 60% , have a referendum , THEN all the diversifying can come into play .

  6. Paul Vallot says:

    A very good reflection of what we Greens are aiming for. A critical friend to an SNP minority govt will be great thanks. 2nd vote Green please.

  7. Craig Miller says:

    Moved house and realised i was just plain pissed off of with electoralism and its humiliating self censorship ,decent people cant say the truth because it might lose a few votes….first time in my life i wont use my vote to support the SNP…the current hysteria demanding and recieving recognition of the dispossesion of Palestine from the mealy mouths of its erstwhile lifelong supporters for some grubby votes by people they would cross the road to avoid outside of an electoral cycle……bah……bah ….a pox on them all ….

    1. John says:

      Then you are wasting a hard fought for vote by your forefathers Craig . You don’t have to give it to the SNP but use it for the candidate that comes closest to your thinking .

  8. Mike says:

    “Bella Caledonia Editor
    31 mins ago
    Bella’s editorial stance has never been to support any one political party Bryan, we support independence and ideas to transform Scotland. Independence of mind always better than following orders.”

    In what way does supporting the concept of risking a minority pro Indy Government after its taken us over 300 years to get a majority Government in our own if Devolved Parliament help the cause of Independence?

    1. John Page says:

      Just gie it a rest, eh? Are no boring yersel? Or are you on here cos everybody in yer real world is body swerving ye?

      1. John Mooney says:

        The only bore on this forum would appear to be yourself,take a chill pill and give the rest of us a break from your sad repetitious trolling! :o)

    2. Justin Kenrick says:

      Hi Mike

      Bella answers your point by saying Bella supports “independence AND ideas to transform Scotland”.

      I know folk like you think us independence supporters who are voting SNP 1st and Green 2nd may be putting the prospect of a majority SNP Government at risk, but can you see that insisting that EVERYONE has to vote SNP twice may put building a majority for independence at risk because INSISTING we shouldn’t split our vote is as crazy as me INSISTING you should!

      We need folk who are entirely focused on independence (thanks!), and we need folk focused on building a broader consensus (of not only those focused on independence for its own sake, but also those who can persuade others it is a route to a socially just and sustainable country). The combination of both was the power of the Yes campaign, let’s not stop now . . .

      1st Vote SNP/ 2nd Vote SNP if that is your cup of tea
      1st Vote SNP/ 2nd Vote Green if that is my cup of tea

    3. I think we disagree that this is the most likely outcome. Its okay to disagree and we can respectfully disagree. I that possible?

  9. Alf Baird says:

    SNP party apparatchiks are understandably worried about ‘losing’ more list votes yet seldom do they mention the ‘cost’ (i.e. waste) of list votes for a party that is expected to take almost all constituency seats (i.e. perhaps 200,000 or more list votes will be needed just to win one SNP list seat – according to Wings projections!). And they also conveniently ignore the fact Greens were part of the Yes campaign. Folks wanting independence do therefore have options other than SNP, not that independence is on offer next week, is it?

    I don’t agree with everything the SNP or Greens want to do (who does?), and as far as I can see no Holyrood party (‘Yes’ or ‘No’) has a definitive handle on how to repair/rebuild the Scottish economy and create ‘real’ jobs, far less deal with inequality and the self-preserving unionist elites running our society (regardless of who sits in Holyrood). But for now SNP and Greens align most to my own preferences and, very importantly, an SNP1/Greens2 vote absolutely maximises the total Yes vote and guarantees (yes, guarantees!) return of the smallest number of unionist MSP’s possible under this particular voting system. So as a Yes supporter I believe voting SNP1/Greens2 is the most logical option, and takes us away from party tribalism, reflecting more the partnership ideal of the Yes campaign.

    1. Mike says:

      Again with the knowingly dishonest claims and numbers Alf.

      Wings doesn’t tell anybody the SNP would need at least 200,000 seats to get a list seat.

      Wings have been telling us that the SNP are definitely NOT guaranteed to win all of the constituency seats there are quite a few where the predictions are too close to call.

      The SNP will almost certainly need list seats to guarantee a majority Government and anything less will put Independence on the back foot for the first time since 2007.

      Momentum is what we have and the thing about momentum is the fact that it has to keep moving in the same direction or it stalls stops and regresses.

      But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know you’re just willfully pretending you don’t.

      Still believe yer a yoon troll who’s at it.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Mike, the ‘cost’ is over 200,000 list votes per seat if 4 or less list seats are ‘won’ by the SNP (as some polls project – Wings assumed 5 list seats @ ave 175,284 votes/seat). Conversely each Greens list seat ‘costs’ only about ave 17,000 list votes. All that SNPx2 does is give the unionists a free run at the list seats. Is that what you recommend?

        Summarised Wings List ‘Projections’ – votes per list seat (assumes SNP wins 69 constituency seats)
        List votes – 376,972
        List seats – 24
        Votes/Seat – 15,707

        List votes – 295,160
        List seats – 17
        Votes/Seat – 17,362

        List votes – 156,708
        List seats – 9
        Votes/Seat – 17,412

        List votes – 876,421
        List seats – 5
        Votes/Seat – 175,284

        List votes – 78,638
        List seats – 1
        Votes/Seat – 78,638

  10. Craig Miller says:

    Yeah the forefathers thing ….the subversion of democracy by elites might have more to do with it than any intended disrespect to forefathers , the anodyne nature of poll / focus group led politics , vanilla and shorn of any risk that some truthful expression of contoversy might alienate a voter or two…..i stood on street corners handing out “Penny for Scotland ” flyers when the SNP were 13% …..

    1. Gordon McShean says:

      Craig, I don’t remember seeing you handing out the flyers on Sauchiehall Street when I was preaching from the corner podium in 1952 … but I’m guessing you might have come along a wee while later. Sorry I missed you, anyway! Your comment about the fear that some truthful expression of controversy might alienate a voter or two is an ageless truth (the SNP has never acknowledged my existence, despite the fact that I performed my 1953 boyhood political extravagances at the behest of SNP National Secretary Robert Curran. I’d befriended him in his Glasgow office in Glasgow. After the initial police questioning he quietly went into exile – as did I. We both had the intention of keeping the party free from controversy (you can read about that in my RETIRED TERRORIST memoir). The sad thing is that I’m still in exile – not only because the party remains silent about the adventure I shared with their late National Secretary, but also because I continue to be threatened with arrest if discovered in Britain. The saddest part is that I don’t have a vote! Do use yours sensibly!

      1. Black Rab says:

        I doubt you seriously Mr Small?

      2. Black Rab says:

        I hear you.

  11. willie says:

    Not at all sure that the Greens through the leadership of Patrick Harvie will have the wit to deliver anything. Listened to Mr Harvie on Ponsonby a couple of weeks back when Harvie said he’d be prepared to raise tax rates even when it would actually have the opposite effect. A bit like saying he’d close a couple of hospitals to make a point, the man is not of the real world. That is not to say environmentalism isnt a good thing. It’s just that Mr Harvie isn’t the one to deliver it.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      You prefer the wit of unionist party ‘leaders’ and their 40+ list seats which an SNP2 vote more or less guarantees?

      Patrick seems to me an excellent ‘price’ to pay (and the only way in this voting system) to bring the total unionist list seats down to perhaps 20+, rendering them and their union all but meaningless.

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        Alf, voting for Patrick/Rise may seem like a good idea on paper but there is one major flaw in this tactic. It is extremely unlikely that there will be enough SNP voters doing so for it to make much difference. There is no organised voting plan to accommodate this.

        One reason for this is that the SNP are strongly promoting SNP 1 and 2. Most people are listening to them and who can blame anyone for following the advice of the party they are supporting?

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Bryan, people need to work this out for themselves rather than be told what is best by politicians. The reality is each SNP list seat requires around 200,000 list votes, maybe more, while a Greens list seat will cost a fraction of this, around 17,000 votes. Voting SNP on the list also guarantees more unionist list seats. This is really the opportunity cost of voting SNP on the list.

  12. David says:

    How will the Scottish Greens have us pay our two thirds in Scotland share of the £9.1bn renewables subsidies by 2020 we currently face for intermittent power, without backup?

    At least they differ from the SNP in having an anti-capitalist leader, but in the short term when all the foreign firms shareholder’s who these subsidies go to, how will we look like a good country to invest in, when we can no longer pay for our power?

    £6bn+ a year is massive between 5 million of us, several thousand pounds every year for an average family just for inefficient windmills that require inefficiently run (more CO2) fossil fuel generation or carbon free nuclear backup.

    The £6bn+ though is only for the subsidies (currently around £45/MW for all of our main source – onshore wind) where the full cost of wind is £150-200/MW and in our current system the corporations are not renowned for taking that hit. 60% of electricity goes on business use, again they don’t take the hit they pass it on to us, already cash strapped, already facing 40-60% fuel poverty.

    We then have to pay for the backup power stations, or import at greater expense (electricity sells for around £33/MW, or build even more expensive storage, all whilst just the right amount of new nuclear technology could have been invested in affordably – Sweden currently produce nuclear for under £20/MW before you think of Hinkley at £92.50/MW total cost. The latest intermittent offshore windfarms are generating a £116/MW strike price, with offshore’s total cost being £210-300/MW.

    The London School of Economics studied the negative effects on property values and found that half-way through the UK’s windfarm plan there was £34bn of damage done, by the end there will be £45bn of losses in Scotland following their findings.

    Nordic democracies like Denmark compensate for the damage caused by windfarms, it’s not nice being placed in negative equity by your government over-ruling local councils I can assure you, so obviously our progressive government will one day offer the same, and the same local democracy offered in every other country in the UK.

    How will any business on earth see a Scotland with this many issues in just one completely mis-managed sector that could initiate financial meltdown as a worthwhile place to invest? Will it be all out socialism from day one of independence, simply taking control of everything on land and in our seas regardless of who owns it in a globalized trading world?

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      Hi David

      For the Greens energy policy see here: https://greens.scot/policy/energy

      Meanwhile, in October of last year Damien Carrington quoted the UK Government as saying that: “The government confirms that it is not continuing the ‘no public subsidy policy’ [for nuclear power] of the previous administration.”

      Carrington goes on to say:

      “That little footnote, tucked away at the end of the announcement of Wednesday’s French-Chinese deal to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley point, detonates an atomic bomb under the UK government’s already bewildering energy policy and leaves ministers hunkered down in a nuclear bunker.

      “Just the day before, energy minister Andrea Leadsom said: “It is vital that industries over time stand on their own two feet. I don’t think anyone here would advocate an industry that only survives because of a subsidy paid by the billpayer.” She was justifying 87% cuts to subsidies for solar power, just as they are on the verge of becoming cheaper than gas.

      “The contradiction does not need spelling out. Nuclear power has had 60 years to stand on its own two feet. The admission it still needs subsidy (after five years of ministers denying precisely that) shows that traditional nuclear power can barely crawl. Whether this admission strengthens the challenge brought by Austria at EU level against the UK that it is providing illegal state aid remains to be seen.

      “Ministers argue that big nuclear power stations are key to energy security. The spooks disagree, saying having a Chinese-run nuclear power station in the UK for half a century is a hostage to fortune.

      “Ministers also say they are committed to cutting carbon from the UK energy supply, but that protecting consumers from higher energy bills is vital. Not many would disagree, so why are ministers all but banning new onshore wind farms, the cheapest form of green energy?”


    2. Alf Baird says:

      David, I really don’t think you can blame the UK’s disastrous energy policies since 1979 on Greens. The problem began with privatisation and selling off profitable public utilities, many now owned ‘offshore’, coupled with weak and confused regulation. Net result of these policies today is the UK has far higher cost energy than many other countries which in turn means (1) UK is not a competitive place for manufacturing (hence export trade collapse) and (2) rising fuel poverty.

      The solution must arguably to better regulate or to re-nationalise the energy industry with dual aims to 1) reduce energy costs and 2) meet environmental targets. More chance of this happening in an independent Scotland I would suggest.

  13. David says:

    I would challenge the greens claim that no nuclear could be democratically controlled, if we renationalise then it’d be up the public, do you really think people in fuel poverty will choose the most expensive option in renewables that require full backup therefore doubling the amount of power stations due to intermittency. a storage facility would just be another power plant again, albeit more expensive for decades to come.

    520MW of MSR is looking to be around £1.2bn according to Transatomic and would likely replace all renewables in 10-15 years hence the UK governments £250m prize fund for it, vs our now unclaimable £10m for wave power with the Saltire Prize. Although why would a green energy outfit get out of bed for £10m, two 3.2MW turbines could have earned them that in UK subsidy, there’s no way Scotland can keep paying those on our own without a miracle and I’m not holding out for hydrogen.

    30MW off Peterhead for five turbines costing £180m to generate 30% of that at first is not going to wow the public by comparison.

    The Guardian rightly giving credit to renewables delusion yesterday http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/idea-of-renewables-powering-uk-is-an-appalling-delusion-david-mackay

    I thoroughly hope all Yes parties pick up on this, as it’ll come to the forefront of ProjectFear Pt.II they’ll just need to ask what’s our plan A on energy. Everything I’m pointing out is a direct threat to independence, if I didn’t want that, I’d keep quiet and let them keep making this mistake.

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