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Patrick Harvie: Green votes make a difference

Patrick Harvie.
Patrick Harvie.

The integrity of our democracy and whether Scotland can decide our own future are important issues as we head towards the May election for the Scottish Parliament.

The Conservatives seem hell-bent on discrediting the structures of our parliament while also denying the fact that a majority of MSPs who back a referendum on Scotland’s future represents a mandate for one.

Both of these positions lack any credibility and reveal a lack of ideas for a recovery from this pandemic.

In fact, after a year of this pandemic and the need for a fair recovery, and in the face of the climate emergency, this election is more important than ever.

In truth, our future is at stake. Climate science gives us just nine years to reverse climate breakdown, and the pandemic has shown up the gaps in our economy that allow too many people to fall into poverty.

Everyone under 22 in Scotland will be able to travel on the bus for free.”

The Scottish Greens have worked constructively during the Covid crisis to make sure our frontline workers are tested regularly, to bring about a ban on evictions over winter and make sure our schools are safe.

We will campaign on our record of delivering meaningful change for the last five years and with a detailed vision for Scotland’s future.

I’m proud of that record, which has seen Scotland adopt our model of a fairer income tax model that sees the rich pay more while most pay less. Everyone under 22 in Scotland will be able to travel on the bus for free from this summer.

Scottish Greens election
Climate change is a global problem that needs a Scottish response.

And thanks to our constructive approach to the Scottish budget, we have secured pandemic relief payments of up to £330 for around half a million households. After the insult of a public sector pay freeze from the UK budget, I’m proud that the Greens have secured an uplift for the workers who have been and still are on the front line of our efforts to tackle this public health crisis.

We will continue to back further progress, for example in the imminent NHS Scotland pay review.

Although the SNP and Tories joined together to block our declaration of a Nature Emergency, Scottish Greens have made an impact on our natural world too, winning new Marine Protected Areas, protections for mountain hares and a new £10 million nature restoration fund to support rewilding projects

There’s no doubt that we’ve shown in the last five years that Green votes make a difference, and that comes from our constructive approach to opposition.

We cannot return to the way things were before the pandemic.”

But the challenges facing Scotland are urgent. We cannot return to the way things were before the pandemic, which allowed unacceptable levels of poverty to grow in Scotland. Similarly, Scotland has been missing our climate targets, and we don’t have time for that. We need solutions that can tackle the climate crisis with the urgency it requires.

That’s why we need a recovery that both creates jobs and tackles Scotland’s climate emissions. Things like our £22 billion plans to upgrade Scotland’s railways would do this, as would a just transition away from oil and gas to create jobs in renewable energy.

We need investment in low-carbon industries like windfarms, trains and warm homes. Only the Scottish Greens offer the solutions to act now, which is why we are asking people to vote like our future depends on it on May 6.

Patrick Harvie is the Scottish Green Party co-convener.

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