I was asked to speak at the South of Scotland Greens conference, here’s what I said:
I joined the Green Party in 2004, convinced by the last mass movement – that against the Iraq War – that we needed a party that stood for people, planet and peace. We need to continue that tradition, and I was delighted that we were so instrumental to the mass movement for independence.
And not just an independence that was about a Scotland that was just a tiny bit better than as part of the Union. We rejected the vision of Scotland that says it’s ok to privatise the ferries, to keep Scotrail in the private sector if you do it from Edinburgh rather than Westminster. We reject the vision of Scotland that kept us in a nuclear first strike alliance. We said no to NATO , we still say no to NATO. And perhaps most importantly we spoke up for a Scotland where we protect our social security system, where we want an economy that works for people not profit.
This event comes at a crucial time for us. As Trish Buchan from Scotland Against Fracking so forcefully told us this morning, Scotland needs a genuine anti-fracking voice in Parliament. We need to be there to make the case for a social security system that people aren’t relying on foodbanks to keep themselves and their families fed as Mark Frankland from First Base Agency.
And to do that we need to win seats across Scotland next year. The South of Scotland has already elected a Green once, in 2003. We need a Green MSP again. Not to replace the vital work that people like Trish and Mark are doing. We need to give voice to their work. We need to give a voice in Parliament to those who were standing up for immigrants in Monkton last week. We are a party of social and environmental justice and the movements that make the case for those deserve to have their case heard in Parliament.
And in 2017 we need to have Councillors in the council chambers across Scotland to make this case. We need to have more people like Midlothian Councillor Ian Baxter, who spoke so inspiringly this morning. The difference that he’s made to Midlothian is a difference we can make in East Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, Borders, South Lanarkshire, and Ayrshire. As a Councillor in Edinburgh I was able to introduce the concept of a Living Wage to Scotland. I was able to introduce a petitions committee and our Councillors across Scotland have made similar differences. Martha Wardrop was rewarded by the RSPB with an award as politician of the year just this week!
But to get there we need to work hard. That should be fun. And we’ve had fun today, we need to keep making the case for the positive impact we can have. With newsletters and on the doorsteps. We are on the cusp of making a huge difference. We need to have MSPs to make that difference. We need to have Councillors, but much more important we need you! The party is nothing without its movement.
From Portpatrick to Prestonpans, from Langholm to Lanark and from Duns to Dumfries – across the south of Scotland we need to make the case for our politics. Scotland needs Greens to have a much bigger voice. And that starts with us, today.