I had the privilege of delivering two speeches at the Scottish Green Party Spring Conference last weekend. Here’s the first…
Like many of you here today, I’m pretty new to party politics. And like many of you, it was the referendum that helped me see my place in politics.
It was a time when we were part of something bigger. A time of big ideas. The referendum made us realise that the status quo was not inevitable and that those big ideas on how Scotland can change were not just possible but necessary. Honestly, I miss it.
Today, 18 months on, it feels like many in Scottish politics have retreated from those ideas. They’ve retreated to the same old party politics, the same bland, middle of the road, lowest common denominator stories about what life in Scotland could be.
But that is simply not good enough.
This morning we’ve heard from Isla O’Reilly that 1 in every 7 school leavers in our most deprived areas never make it out of poverty and into positive destinations. Scotland CAN and MUST guarantee a future for our young people – our Scotland Guarantee ensures that every school leaver who wants it will be given a place in work, education or training.
We’ve heard from Ross Greer that tens of thousands of us spend our lives caring for others – for our partners, parents, sisters and brothers – for pittance. Scotland CAN and MUST afford our carers the dignity and respect they deserve. That’s why we’re pledging a 50% increase in carers allowance.
And we’ve heard from Andy Wightman that our austerity ridden councils have ever less power to provide vital public services and our communities are shut out of decision making. Scotland CAN and MUST unlock the power in our communities and end the austerity status quo.
And let me be clear. The the SNP’s council tax has got to go!
Like you, I joined this party because I refuse to accept the status quo. I refuse to accept that we can afford to write off generations of young people; I refuse to accept that care work isn’t work that’s worth supporting; and I refuse to accept that our broken system of local democracy can crawl on unchanged.
Together, we CAN and we MUST do better.
In the face of middle of the road politics, it can be hard to imagine that this better Scotland really is possible. But think back to what our parliament has achieved since our first Green MSP walked through the doors nearly 17 years ago.
The Scottish Parliament is the parliament that abolished tuition fees; that stopped prescription charges; that made marriage equal for everyone. Our parliament is at its best when it is bold.
So let us, the Scottish Green Party make it bold again and create a better Scotland!