#Indyref 2 years on – what we won

#Indyref 2 years on – what we won

In the two years since the Independence Referendum the politics of Scotland has changed beyond recognition. Although the realities of inequality remain very much the same, it is worth noting just how different our country is as a result of the referendum and its aftermath.

Scotland entered the referendum campaign in 2012, very much like England – while we voted differently in Scotland, our attitudes to political questions were very different. Scotland now stands politically very much apart from England. The citizens of nations aren’t born with a particular political outlook, be that left or right. The idea that the politics of Scotland’s people was formed with loch and glen is simply wrong. It’s the product of our history, geography and society. But that politics can change. And the referendum shows it can change very quickly.

While Scotland didn’t vote for independence, our changing politics is eroding the UK’s political unity. What is perhaps most interesting was the way in which change happened. It wasn’t  the result of media headlines, press officers, or any of the tools of the late 20th century. It was a mass movement – people convincing other people. And it is this politics that is beginning to change the world, from our political parties to the US presidential race.

The tide that transformed Scotland has seen changes in politics across the world. Radical candidates surge into the leadership of previously centrist parties. Radical parties perform better than over the last 3 decades. This is because of a change in the structure of the economy, a change to how we communicate and on the entry of a new generation to the electorate.

While Margaret Thatcher sought to ‘change the soul’ by making money the dominant relationship in society, the outcome seems to be a generation of people who reject the tyranny of the market. It’s not really a surprise when that market has forced people to take on huge debt to get education, a jobs market that offers little security and often poverty wages, and housing that costs three times (and often more) than what it did for their parents.


But those material changes only sow the seeds for political change. What made the Scottish experience unique was that it was a transformation in a national political debate driven not by a crisis like in Greece or Spain. Instead our change came from the desire to redefine our politics with social justice and equality at its heart. And it came from ordinary people arming themselves with facts, arguments and that desire to make Scotland a better place.


The Green campaign in the 2014 European Parliament election focused on how we could create a just, welcoming Scotland. As anti-immigrant rhetoric from Westminster politicians and tabloid papers sank to new depths our aim was to change the nature of the debate around austerity, immigration and our future. We didn’t win, but we I like to think we profoundly changed the debate.

And we carried that approach into Green Yes. Far from being the ‘narrow nationalism’ derided by our opponents, we willed into existence a Scotland that looked to the world for the best ways to do things. A Scotland that looked to change the world for the better. A Scotland for those at home with freedom.

The contrast with the EU referendum could not be greater. Where our referendum became a cauldron of ideas, energy, excitement and resolution to change the world, the EU referendum was a grand exercise in cynicism. Driven by a narrow nationalism that sought to return England to its status as an imperial power, the debate often felt like a demand to stop the world, so England  could get off – taking the rest of us too.

Of course, for many of those shut out of education, housing and secure employment, this was entirely understandable. Just as it was understandable for many to vote to stay in a United Kingdom they little expected to behave so self-destructively. And just as we in Scotland have decisively shifted the debate on immigration, so we need to shift those in the UK who still blame foreigners for the economic impact of Thatcherism and the banking crisis. 

We must not cease from our work in creating Scotland anew. We face ever greater challenges. It is not just Scotland we must recast. We have communities, cities, workplaces to change. We have the tools that can make that change, it is a matter of finding the opportunities to use those tools. By defining our identity as egalitarian, internationalist and committed to saving our planet we can claim back our souls from Thatcherism. The referendum was only the beginning. Its spirit lives on, and we can and will use that spirit to create the Scotland we all deserve in the world we all deserve

The EU debate: why left leave is making me angry

EU panel debate

I am angry.*

I’ve spoken in a few debates about the EU Referendum recently (the image above is from the Edinburgh People’s Festival debate with Jim Sillars and Neil Findlay). In these, as with my recent blog post, I have tried to present a left wing case for remaining a part of the EU. I have tried to present a vision of a better Europe, one with democracy, transparency, equality and social justice at its heart; along similar lines to the vision of the Democracy in Europe Movement. I don’t, for one moment, think that such a EU is inevitable with a remain vote, just as I did not believe a yes vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum would automatically result in a better Scotland. With Europe, as with Scotland, change and reform will take a great deal of very hard work. It will take the building, developing and sustaining of a social movement across the continent. But creating, having, building and sharing that vision is important. So important.

Many people, in the discussions I’ve seen, heard and contributed to so far, have been lamenting the depressing nature of the debate so far: it has been so completely dominated by the political right, by Bullingdon boys arguing about which vote will serve the interests of neoliberalism better. I have said that we, on the left, must take some responsibility for this. We have a responsibility, a duty, to liven up the debate. To put forward more interesting ideas. To propose what the future – whatever the result – would look like.

To date, I have seen nothing from the left leave campaign that paints a picture for me about a positive future for the UK out of the EU. I have asked several people, challenged fellow debate panel members, asked members of Lexit. And I get the same response from most of them: the EU is undemocratic, it has been captured by neoliberal and corporatist interests, it is not transparent, it is xenophobic. And so on.

I know all of this. I agree with it. I don’t want the status quo. But I don’t see that leaving the EU delivers the radically different Europe (or UK, or Scotland) I want to see. The left’s inability or unwillingness to say how things will be better after a leave vote (for anyone) is making me angry.

I have tried to focus on the potential for a different EU. I have acknowledged the problems of the status quo, but not really gone into them in any detail, not really outlined how leaving the EU does not make these problems go away but will probably make them worse. So here’s some more on this. After this rant, I’ll try and be positive again. But for now, three key reasons why leaving the EU will be bad:

  1. If we can’t reform the EU, we can’t reform the world

So much of the commentary from left leave folk is about how it is just not possible to reform the EU. This sounds very much like an acceptance that reform, anywhere, is not possible. When challenged, many reform-of-the-EU-is-not-possible advocates fail to acknowledge just how broken the British state is. If we leave the EU, we will be at the mercy of a British state, a Westminster institution that has shown no inclination to change.

Remember how hard members of the British establishment railed against change in the AV referendum? They fought tooth and nail against AV – a relatively minor change to our ‘democracy’. That is how resistant to change they are.

The Tories (who will be leading any negotiations following a leave vote) want to increase the membership of the unelected House of Lords by 100 peers, whilst reducing the number of members in the elected House of Commons by 50 MPs. That is how antagonistic to democracy they are.

The Tories went to see Mrs Windsor prior to the last General Election to try and get her to say that people should vote Conservative. That is how resistant to any kind of real democracy (never mind electing the UK’s head of state) they are.

And if we want to talk about TTIP (so many people saying that our NHS is only safe outside the EU, that we won’t be able to have nationalised services as part of the EU), how many members of the UK Cabinet disagree with TTIP and will not want to sign it regardless of EU membership? Zero. Whereas Tsipras, as a member of the European Council, has said he will veto it.

And don’t, for a moment, believe that the Tories will fall apart following a leave vote. Leaving the EU removes the biggest issue of division in the party. They have always been, and will always be, very good at uniting after a battle, no matter how bloody – we have centuries of evidence for this. It might mean losing some prominent personalities, but it won’t dent the Tory ability to hold on to power.

Leaving the EU does not leave us with a blank canvas to create new democratic governance structures. It leaves us with a Tory government and the instruments of the British state that have no interest in us as humans, simply as objects (I don’t even think we qualify as subjects) that can be used to further their neoliberal, imperial interests.

[As a side note, it is for these reasons that I wanted, and still want, Scottish independence. That would lead to a fracture of the British state. Leaving the EU won’t result in a fracture of the EU. And it certainly won’t result in a fracture of the British state. In fact, I think leaving the EU will reinforce the British state. But that’s not what this post is about.]

  1. The problem is Neoliberalism, not the institutions of the EU

This is closely linked to my first point above. The institutions of the EU are not only un- and/or anti- democratic, they have been captured by neoliberalism. But so has the British state. We need to work across borders, building social movements that transcend any kind of nationalism, to challenge neoliberalism.

The EU has become an instrument of neoliberalism. But there is nothing inevitable about this. Going back nearly 70 years, the first thoughts about transnational co-operation were about changing things: about ensuring that war was not the default way to deal with disagreements; about creating new institutions that could redefine our relationships with power; about finding and sharing, across cultural differences, a common humanity; about creating peace and understanding, and defining democracy anew. That is the foundation of the EU. That is what we’ve got to use to challenge its capture by neoliberalism. Leaving the EU does not destroy neoliberalism. Let’s not get distracted from the bigger, and so much more important, goal.

  1. Immigration and freedom of movement will be worse under a Tory government

I am a South African citizen. I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. I have experienced, first hand, the consequences of colonialism, IMF-imposed structural adjustment, paternalism. I have also experienced the constraints imposed on foreigners by the UK Border Agency and the Home Office. Several years ago (before the laws became even more restrictive) I bought – for that’s what it amounts to – indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

I say ‘bought’ because I had to pay for the stamp in my passport. Before this I had to pay for the ‘Life in the UK’ test. Before this I had to pay for the books that contained the information required to pass the Life in the UK test. Before this I had to pay for the temporary visas to study and work in the UK. Before this I had to pay for the education required to enable me to be in a position to study and work in the UK. Thousands of pounds later, I am treated with less suspicion than other Africans (still some suspicion, though, but it is further moderated by the colour of my skin and the accent that comes out of my mouth) at border controls because of a fancy little stamp in my passport.

The UK’s immigration system is racist. It is classist. It is xenophobic. It is social engineering: you have to be wealthy enough and well enough educated to be granted entry to the UK. In other words, you must not be poor, unable to speak English, or uneducated.

Most people arguing to leave the EU are British/EU subjects/citizens. Having had the privilege of freedom of movement across the continent (and most of the rest of the world), these people have little idea of what it is like to have arcane restrictions placed on your ability to move around, simply because of where your parents were when you were born, or what their origins were.

If the UK leaves the EU, every single EU citizen will be subjected to similar restrictions that I and thousands of others from around the world are subjected to. Do you really want to expose thousands of Europeans to the racist, classist UKBA? And, if the UK adopts a points-based system like Australia has, how long will it be until people trying to get into the UK are held in detention centres off-shore, where crimes, including rapes, go uninvestigated? This is the reality for refugees at the moment in Europe, which is not on. It is also the reality for would-be immigrants to Australia.

So …

We face a choice. And it may be about choosing the lesser of two evils. But for me, it is a clear choice. We can either allow the Tories to boot out immigrants, to treat other Europeans as appallingly as they treat those from the rest of the world, and to rip up the social charter. Or we can work with those across the continent to build a workers’ movement across Europe, to build a social movement of solidarity that will be our only hope of challenging neoliberalism in Dundee, Brussels, Athens, Harare, Pretoria, Canberra and elsewhere.

If anyone from the left campaigning to leave the EU can give me a clear vision for a better UK outside the EU, I’m all ears.

* Addendum for clarity: Several folk have expressed dismay that Left Leave is making me angrier than the Tories and other right wing groups on both sides of the debate … that is not what I’ve said at all. Left Leave has made me angry because I am yet to hear what their positive vision for either the UK or the EU is if we vote to leave. I am absolutely livid at the content of the mainstream (rightwing) debate and the manner in which it is happening. Please don’t mistake these different sources of anger!

Why I’ll be voting to remain a member of the EU


Two years ago, I had the huge honour of being the Scottish Greens’ lead candidate in the European elections. Our campaign slogan was a just and welcoming Scotland – we put our principles of peace, social justice and democracy and our support for open borders and immigration front and centre of our campaign.

During that campaign, I became very familiar with some of the huge problems of the EU. Then, and this was before the squeeze on Greece, it was seen as being anti-democratic – the parliament not having anywhere as much influence as the Commission or the European Central Bank (or any of the other institutions of the EU) – not progressive in its political or economic outlook, and not succeeding economically for many.

Not much has changed in the intervening years – it has clearly been captured by and for neoliberal and corporatist interests, it is exclusionary, it can be racist and xenophobic as it does not afford non-Europeans the same rights as Europeans. But still, on balance, I think we should vote to remain part of the EU in just four weeks time.

This is not because I endorse the UK government’s approach as outlined in its controversial document delivered to every home recently. No, far from it. I want to argue for Scotland’s membership of an EU that is radically different to the one being talked about by either side of the very male, very blue debate currently taking place.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we must consider our current political context. In Scotland, and in the UK, a vote to leave will be a victory for the right. The momentum in this campaign comes from and sits with a right wing leave case that says we must shut our borders, that we must reinvigorate the Empire, that we must make Britain great again. That sends shivers down my spine.

It means going back to the days of the Raj, and a colonial project in Africa that was profoundly racist. And in the 100th anniversary year of the Easter Rising, which had everything to do with challenging imperial and anti-democratic monarchical power, we need to reclaim some of the collective solidarity of that century-old republican movement.

The right wing case to leave is the dominant narrative, presented by people who think that imperialism is the highest form of capitalism, and that that is a good thing. However much we might wish it not to be the case, siding with these people means siding with those who do not not believe that the world has changed since the 19th century. As an immigrant from post-colonial Southern Africa, that horrifies me.

But, context aside, let’s have a look at some principles, and where they lead us in this debate – there are several that persuade me to vote to remain.

For me, a very important green and socialist principle is the freedom of movement of people, encompassing both the freedoms to live where you wish, and to move when you wish. This is probably one of the most important aspects of the the European Project. Breaking down barriers, such as state borders, is a positive thing. We live and work in an increasingly globalised world. Our economies increasingly function on global or very local levels, not so much at the level of the state. Not only do EU nationals contribute hugely to our economy, but they enrich our lives socially, culturally and in so many other ways. They are our doctors, our teachers, our builders, our professors, and I welcome and value the part they play in our society.

Europe also represents one of the very few real moves to transnational regulation of our banking and finance systems. And ironically, such regulation has been held back by the very forces who now wish to leave the EU. The green cause is advanced by moves to tame the transnational power of capital, and the international influence of the banks. Whilst it is true that, to a large extent, free-market fundamentalism has taken hold across the EU, it is worth noting that this is due to a collective failure of the left to win elections across the continent. And our response should be a call to collective action across the continent, not to separate ourselves off into almost certain right wing oblivion.

And change in Europe can happen – the Democracy in Europe Movement (Diem) is blossoming. It is calling for the EU to embrace accountability. Demands include transparency in decision-making, constraints on corporate lobbying and further democratic input into the EU from citizens.

The European Parliament – which is in many ways far more democratic than our own Westminster parliament (it’s members are elected using a proportional system, for a start!) – should also have the power to instigate legislation, thus building on its ability to block proposals from the Commission. Indeed, an excellent case in point is TTIP. If a majority of democratically elected MEPs choose to vote against TTIP then the deal will be scuppered. Let’s remember that the UK government is one of the biggest cheerleaders for this kind of damaging trade deal. Can you imagine what Britain’s trade deals with the rest of the world would look like if the Tories were left in charge of negotiating them? We’d be signing up to multiple TTIPs with any nation willing to trade with us.

I also want to keep secure cross-border legislation on workers rights, on women’s rights, on human rights. These rights have been hard fought for by trade unions, women and others across the globe, and it is because of the EU they are now enshrined in the laws of every member state. It is because of the EU that temporary and part time workers have something approaching equal rights with full time workers. It is because of the EU that we can have international consultation with trade unions on rights for carers, for stronger protection from dismissal for working mothers. It is because of the EU that we have international policies against sexual harassment, human trafficking, the sexual exploitation of children. It is because of the EU that we have designated funding to combat violence against women and girls, fight female genital mutilation, and so much more.

And, whilst I’m talking about funding, it would be remiss of me not to mention education and university research. Without the EU funding our higher education institutions get, without the freedom of movement of students, academics, and dare I say it, knowledge, enabled by the EU, our universities would be very much poorer.

I think it is clear that we need transnational commitments for environmental protection and tackling climate change. It’s only by working with our European neighbours that we can effectively tackle climate change, protect wildlife and reduce pollution. Thanks to EU rules, our beaches are cleaner and our dirtiest power stations are being shut down.

However, virtually all of these reasons have their downfall, not least because they are either strategic – some might say tactical – or instrumental – using the EU as a means to an end, the end being improved workers or human rights.

Fundamentally, I am in favour of the EU because the whole point of it is to change things, to create new institutions, to redefine our relationships with power, to share. Going back to its inception, nearly 70 years ago, this is what it was all about – creating peace and understanding, defining democracy anew. The EU’s capture by neoliberalism is exactly the reason we must fight to remain: we, the people, must use the EU’s foundational approach of peaceful, transformative and incremental change to take back our economy and renew our democracy.

EU imageThe European story should be celebrated. After centuries of war, countries with different histories and cultures have come together, opting to share sovereignty in some areas while keeping their own traditions, in order to work together for the common good. Being a member of the EU helps the UK meet head-on international challenges like the refugee crisis, international terrorism and climate change.

We know the EU isn’t perfect. We want the EU to be more democratic, to be genuinely accountable to the citizens of Europe. So, rather than capitulate to reactionary forces, our job must be to make the EU better. We need to democratise the EU, and to use it as the beginning of a global social movement of solidarity. And to do this we need to be in it!


Why we must back Nursing Scotland’s Future

I spoke at two hustings organised by the Royal College of Nurses – one in Aberdeen and one in Dundee. In both, I pledged by support for their Nursing Scotland’s Future manifesto. Here’s why.


As a green, I believe that healthy individuals and communities are the basis of a socially just society.


The NHS and our network of social care services in every local authority, is an incredible national asset. But Scotland’s people face unacceptable differences in longevity and years lived in good physical or mental health. These inequalities in health are harmful to individuals and to society. Greens want to take every opportunity to strengthen the foundations for good health especially tackling income inequality and discrimination and prejudice. We believe Scotland can be a society where we fight poverty, build communities and support everyone in need throughout life.


To achieve this, we must put health and well-being at the centre of government, and focus on measures to make our society’s good health, equality and wellbeing the foundation of all Scottish Government policy. Most of the measures we currently use, GDP being the main one, do not deliver this for us. This will help us deliver the first pledge in the NSF manifesto.


Many of our health outcomes are determined by the conditions we face in our early years, sometimes even before birth. So we need policies that tackle child poverty, support healthy pregnancies, build children’s confidence and foster healthy lifestyle habits from a young age. In these ways, by giving our children the best possible start, we can focus on prevention, which is not only more cost effective, but also makes for happier, healthier communities throughout life.


If we look at the health inequalities in Scotland, and indeed across the world, it is very clear that economic inequality is a key driver of illness and poor health. We need economic policies, like a Living Wage, to help address these. We also need policies that will create healthier environments – air pollution kills over 2000 Scots annually and is one of the top avoidable causes according to cutting edge research from Professor David Newby at  the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in conjunction with British Heart Foundation. And we need social policies that tackle poor housing, promote active travel, and secure jobs with decent conditions.


Scottish Greens are committed to developing a health service fit for the future. Workforce planning is key to this – meaning we can cope with demographic changes and increased population. Such planning has to include engagement with universities to ensure we have enough nurses in the future, as well as funding these places appropriately, so we don’t lose potential nurses with great life experience simply because they cannot afford to train as mature students. We also need to ensure voices of different service users are heard – we must properly include isolated older people in society and enable them to maintain their independence.  


Importantly, we must also ensure parity of of esteem for mental and physical health – in spending, planning, and staffing. We know that between ¼ and ⅓ of all Scots experience poor mental health, and we also know that there are just not enough resources at the moment to support them.


Finally, none of these aspirations for a healthy Scotland would be possible without you, the staff that support us throughout our lives. Greens are committed to treating workers fairly, paying them well and supporting them to develop your careers.

Mental health must gain equal status with physical health!

These comments are taken from my opening remarks at SAMH‘s national mental health hustings that were held in Dundee. I was there representing the greens, and there were speakers from the SNP, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.




As a green, I believe that healthy people and communities are the basis of a socially just society. And I know that our health, mental and physical, is affected by so many things: where we live, our workplace, our education, and so on. So we must address mental health issues not in isolation, but in the round of our individual and social contexts. Greens want to take every opportunity to strengthen the foundations for good health especially tackling income inequality and discrimination and prejudice. We believe Scotland can be a society where we fight poverty, build communities and support everyone in need throughout life.


To achieve this, we must put health and well-being at the centre of government, and focus on measures to make our society’s good health, equality and wellbeing the foundation of all Scottish Government policy.


Mental health has been secondary to physical health for too long, and too long seen as something separate from inequality, poverty and poor local environment. Green MSPs will fight for equal consideration for mental and physical health – in spending, planning and staffing. We need more and better resources to support the ¼ to ⅓ of Scots who experience poor mental health.


We support the Declaration of Rights for Mental Health to ensure that all people with mental health issues are treated equally, with dignity and respect.


Our education system must also better support the mental wellbeing of the next generation. Green MSPs will fight for early action on identifying child mental health issues, and will support the broadening out of our education curriculum to ensure creativity, confidence and well being sit alongside numeracy and literacy.
I believe that, with more greens in the Scottish Parliament, we can, indeed, to quote Billy Watson in SAMH’s manifesto, be “bold, creative and innovative”. Scottish Greens have the radical policies that will help transform our lives and our country for the better.

Green priorities for development and industry

With Holyrood elections looming, most candidates have been kept pretty busy speaking at hustings and debates. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been saying over the last few weeks. The comments below are more-or-less what I said in my opening remarks at a breakfast hustings (yes, it did kick off with breakfast at 7.45am!) in Aberdeen last Thursday – organised by the SCDI – the Scottish Coalition for Development and Industry.


Good morning everyone, and thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this discussion this morning. I am Maggie Chapman, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, and I am the lead candidate for the North East of Scotland regional list.


Greens stand for a radical politics, one that demands better for Scotland from its politicians and its institutions, one that gives people the power the transform their lives, one that will create a better, more equal Scotland that puts communities at its heart. We need greens in Holyrood to deliver the feisty parliament that will stand up for all of our people.


We all know that we face two crises in the North East – a jobs crisis as the oil and gas market becomes less reliable, and a housing crisis, as we price people out of decent homes by inflating the speculative housing bubble.


Greens have plans to address both of these issues, and there are clear links between them.


Firstly, on jobs. We desperately need a diversification plan for the North East. We want to create over 200,000 high skilled, well paid jobs, many in the North East, by investing in a transition away from oil and gas, by focussing on decommissioning of oil infrastructure, and on retrofitting and insulating buildings. And with proper investment in our creative industries, we can give back the jobs that have been and will be lost. And these jobs will pay well – our economy needs more high wage, secure, sustainable jobs.



In terms of housing, we must not pump up another housing bubble like we did prior to 2008, but instead deliver a radical programme of reform that focuses on making rents liveable, tackling fuel poverty by improving building standards and rolling out mass insulation schemes, and, importantly, building social housing.



In order to deliver all of this, we need a clear economic strategy, one that is based on high quality manufacturing and increasing productivity from innovation in renewables, decommissioning, bioscience and so on. We must drive better decision making by using big data effectively. We need stronger knowledge transfer from universities, and we need to build the industrial base to allow complementary research and development in the private and university sectors. We need investment in infrastructure – particularly broadband – to allow us to work on the advantages provided by the digital economy. And we need regional planning that allows from proper partnership working and knowledge exchange.


A strong group of MSPs in Holyrood will push the Scottish Government to develop this strategy, with communities and places at their heart.

International development, social justice and radical democracy

International development, social justice and radical democracy

A few weeks ago, I was going to be representing the Scottish Greens at a debate about international development, hosted by NIDOS (Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland), the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP), and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. Unfortunately, the event could not go ahead, due to an important debate and vote in the Scottish Parliament. However, this is some of what I would have said:


International development and foreign policy are both very close to my heart. As someone who grew up in the global south, I want the Scottish Parliament to do whatever it can to lead on these issues. Despite the limited powers Holyrood has in this area, I think three things are crucial for us to work on.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Scotland can be a force for good in the world. We may not be an independent country, but that does not mean that we cannot encourage responsible global citizenship, and lead by example.

Everyday, if we look for them, we can find tales of utter devastation due to foreign policies that are driven by and for private profit, imperialist power trips and a Eurocentric view of the world. We know that our  military engagement in the Middle East, our determination to impose Western democracy on other countries, has left hundreds of thousands of civilians worse off. We know that our greed for cheaper resources has destroyed the local economies of farmers in the global south. We know that our addiction to oil is polluting the soil, air and waters around the world. We can change this.

Scotland can be leading the world in challenging unjust and oppressive systems. We have to say no to TTIP and other trade deals that will destroy democratic oversight of the institutions we all hold so dear. We must be at the forefront of welcoming refugees and others to our country, and make sure that those who are suffering the brunt of the humanitarian crisis in the middle east and elsewhere are supported, welcomed, and treated with dignity and respect. We must stand up for climate justice, whether it with those suffering drought in zones arid zones of sub-saharan Africa, or  with those facing inundation as sea levels rise and flood their island or low lying homes.

Scotland can be a force for good in the world.

Secondly, we need to be building the institutions we want to see in the future now. We must be creating the building blocks of the

We can see, if we look hard enough (the media won’t help us here), the destruction that the military industrial complex causes people’s lives. We see the powerlessness in the eyes of those left destitute by governments selling the land on which they depend from underneath them, unable to engage in any democratic challenge to these actions. We see the devastation caused by the proliferation of nuclear technology, driven by ever more ridiculous claims to power and influence.

We want our institutions to be driven by the desire to promote peace, facilitate the understanding of and spreading of real, people-focussed democracy, and diplomacy that puts people first. We want our government bodies here in Scotland to throw their weight behind international organisations such as United Cities and Local Governments or the Council of European Municipalities and Regions to make progress on global issues where national efforts have stalled. We want the Scottish Government to have observer status (at least), on international bodies such as the UN, WHO, and Nordic Council.

Scotland can be a beacon of hope, peace and democracy in the world.

My third point is the culmination of the first two. We need all of our interactions in the world to be governed by an ‘ethical foreign policy’. This should inform and guide all of our international dealings, ensuring that we act in accordance with our principles of peace, equality and climate justice. So, we should not do deals with despotic dictatorships, whether those are deals for the nuclear arms industry or for the oil and gas industry. We should not be engaging in trade deals that we know will result in the marginalisation of people’s voices in decision-making and institutional control. We must not let our commitment to Human Rights, Universal Human Rights, be eroded by the neoliberal agenda that seeks to isolate us from our brothers and sisters around the world.

As a Green, I believe that Scotland can play an active, powerful and compassionate role in the world, promoting sustainable solutions, human rights, peace and democracy. A world of changing climate will face enormous challenges to past and long-held certainties and Scotland could play a pivotal role in meeting these challenges head-on.