In 100 days, Scotland will be voting for its next parliament, and choosing its next government. I have the huge honour of being the lead candidate for the North East of Scotland region, and I hope that, come 6th May, I will be joining a strong group of Greens in Holyrood.
Scotland desperately needs a radical voice in parliament. We need to ensure that the next government puts people before profit, communities before corporations. Greens will be this radical voice.
The North East is a wonderfully diverse region, with Yes city Dundee in the south, the fishing towns of Fraserburgh and Peterhead along the north east coast, the city of Aberdeen and its oil and gas wealth, and of course the agricultural lands of Aberdeenshire and Angus. This diversity brings so many benefits to Scotland as a whole, but it also presents us with some of the most significant economic and social welfare challenges, for us as Greens, and for our country.
We keep hearing about job losses from the oil and gas industry, with over 23,000 jobs to go in the next 4 years, many from Aberdeen. With an economy reliant on fossil fuels the region requires a plan. Our plan is a just transition from fossil fuels. We want to see the North East lead the way on decommissioning and creating green jobs that make use of the engineering skills and expertise that exist in the region. We also want to see planned diversification of jobs, enabling growth in the creative industries, and seeing social enterprises and employee-owned ventures flourish.
This is not going to be popular with the rag-tag bunch of neo-liberal ideologues we have governing us from Westminster. Their “long term economic plan” is all about encouraging people to pump up the housing bubble. And this is the second most pressing issue in the North East.
Housing is unaffordable. House prices mean that few people can get decent mortgages. And those who can’t are forced into the rental sector where, as has been said many times, the rent is too damn high. Rent increases have outstripped income for decades. We have to reverse this, with Living Rents and rent controls. We also have to work to eradicate fuel poverty. People must not have to choose between heating and eating.
The social security of all of our citizens relies of jobs, homes and heat. Only with social and economic justice can we hope to deliver the environmental justice that we all so desperately need.
There are many other issues for us to tackle: securing the futures of our young people, paying those who care for others a Carers Wage, reforming our relationships with land and power, providing care and safety for those fleeing conflict abroad. Over the coming 100 days, I will be doing what I can to raise these and other issues on the campaign trail.
Please do join me!