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.