We launched our campaign for the Scottish Greens in the North East Region on Tuesday. I was really pleased to be joined by the incredible German Green MEP Terry Reintke, and our very own Guy Ingerson, who is number 2 for the Greens on the North East list. This is what I said on the night.
On the 6th May – or when your postal ballot arrives in April – we are asking people in the North East of Scotland – indeed, voters across Scotland – to vote like our future depends on it. Because it does!
This election comes at a vital time for the North East, a vital time for Scotland, and a vital time for the world.
The COVID pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable we are, just how fragile our life support systems really are, just how quickly a local problem spreads throughout the world. We have seen what the impact of a global catastrophe can be. And we have seen some signs of how we can work together to counteract that catastrophe.
We know we face another global crisis – climate breakdown. And we know that climate breakdown will be so much worse than COVID. We know it will require much more serious action at an international level. We know that it will mean huge transformations to our everyday lives.
But we also know we have time to act – not much more time, but still, time to act – and, if we do act, we know that we have the chance to create a better world. The sooner we start building that better tomorrow, the sooner that better tomorrow will be a reality, and the better that tomorrow will be.
The more Green MSPs we can elect in May, the more seriously everyone will take the climate issue. In 2003 when we elected 7 Green MSPs – including one from the North East – we shifted the whole of Scottish politics on several issues: from student tuition fees to the climate. The more MSPs we elect the better.
And if there is a minority government, the chance of even more impact exists.
So every vote counts, every MSP counts, and everything we do towards winning those votes and MSPs counts.
We know that over the next 5 years we need to create a just transition for the North East, for the workers in the fossil fuel industry and for those dependent on fossil fuels. Such a plan will transform not only our energy industry, but potentially every aspect of our lives.
This is exactly the sort of planning that can get us out of a crisis and create a better world all in one. We need to have a serious plan, one that identifies what jobs we will need in the future and provides proper training for those jobs.
Those jobs will be in renewables, in digital, in care, and in the arts. We need jobs that make the world better. We need jobs that reduce our carbon emissions. We need jobs that build our communities’ resilience. We need to insulate every building, replace our gas boilers, install new wind and solar energy, create new low carbon transport and high-speed broadband. There is plenty that needs to be done. We just need to make sure we are up to the challenge.
Every Green vote, every Green MSP makes the case for that plan. Our future depends on it.
And we need to learn the big lessons of the pandemic. That we need to work together with our friends across the world – and I’m delighted to welcome Terry Reintke as a symbol of that willingness to work together. We know that we need to focus on the real issues – even in the face of a UK government that cares more about statues than women. And we need to be able to break away from the failed UK state. A state that we’ve seen in the age of covid – a corrupt feeding frenzy of private profiteering that resembles vultures on a corpse.
So we need to sort our constitutional future – we need to become the outward-looking country focused on solving the economic and climate crises for Scotland and the world. We need to leave the Westminster psychodrama behind and get on with creating a country fit to cooperate with others. A country focused on building a better future.
And that constitutional future is vital. I mean independence, I mean working with other countries, not against them. But most importantly it means giving power back to people and communities. I don’t want to win power from Westminster to hoard it at Holyrood. I want to see power devolved to local authorities, to communities, to workers. We need to mobilise all our communities in the fight against climate breakdown. And to do that we need to engage them in the vital decisions we must make.
It’s time for a radical approach to devolution of power to communities. An approach that is focused on giving ownership of commons to our people. A way for people to take control of their future. We should be using the common resources of wind, solar and tidal to unleash a renewal of local power. We should have collective control of our data. We need to redirect investment from roads into rail, but also into removing the need for transport with better, cheaper digital connections for all.
But we still need to win independence to do this. Not just formal independence. We need to be independent of the Westminster mindset that sees investment in wealthy places as more valuable than investment in other places.
We need to become better at discussing, at agreeing with one another. It’s clear that there will be an attempt to silence discussion and debate – that has been the Tory strategy since 2016. But we won’t go back to eating our cornflakes. They may wish to pollute public debate with their hate, but we must rise above it. There is so much we need to agree, and so little time to agree it, that we have to become much better at this sort of discussion. Both locally and at Scottish and international levels. We have seen what happens when we leave decisions to the market, to the billionaires, and to the vested interests. We end up with more private yachts and planes and ever higher temperatures. It is vital that we bring decisions back into the democratic realm.
And we need to work better with our colleagues across the world. Where Boris Johnson is demanding that we stop the world because he wants to get off, we want to play a role in making the world a better place. I am horrified on a daily basis by the terrible Brexit deal Johnson has done. He may hide behind Covid for now, but soon enough the damage will become clear. We need to be able to end this farce, get back into Europe, and start shaping it for the better.
So we need to sort our climate crisis, we need to sort our democracy – more power for communities, more power for Scotland, less power for the corrupt Tories and more impact in the world. We need a plan for a just transition so that no one is left behind in the north east. And we know that every Green vote, every Green MSP makes that case stronger.
So please do everything you can to help us win those votes and those seats in May. Because our future depends on it.