The ballots have been circulated for SGP members to vote their selections for the Holyrood list for 2021.
The Glasgow Region hustings were held last weekend as a series of ‘speed-dating’ informal conversational groups. While I took notes of what questions I was asked, I didn’t manage to get them all. Lothian, on the other hand, had the following list (picked up from the Women’s Network, thanks) of questions which I’ll answer here for folk who were not at the hustings.
Obviously I’m getting to think about my answers here, and it’s not a test of my performance under time pressure. Glasgow Branch are having a campaign evening at Kelvinbridge on Thursday 3rd Oct which I’ll be going to. If you’d like to come along and help, that would be great because I’m also standing for Glasgow Central constituency in any snap general election that occurs for Westminster. We need to start getting campaigners out (see question 8…) and you’ll get to meet me then if you don’t know me already.
1 – If you were elected as a Green MSP, which topic would you like to be our spokesperson on and why?
I’d like to take on community development. This is a wider remit that it might seem because it’s an integral part of the Green New Deal. It would involve working with the Welfare spokes-person so that carers and others who are badly treated at the moment are not forced – further – into poverty; with Economy to ensure that taxes and public finance are spent on the needs of people; with Housing and Development to make homes affordable and see that jobs and local resources are available.
I have experience as an environmental consultant in planning and development, as well direct experience of poverty and trying to make a living in the arts, and I think that my skills and experience would be well applied here.
2 – How are you/the Scottish Green Party going move us away from the current obsession with economic growth as the best measure of a successful society, especially as we already consume about 3 planets worth of resources every year?
The Scottish Government has made a start on a National Performance Framework which collects measures on issues like crime, loneliness, victimisation, cultural activities, and inequality. This is only a start and we need to begin directing public effort towards funding and improving work in these areas, not just collecting measures. The overall goal should be towards measuring the success of the nation and the government in the quality of people’s lives, not in the movement of money and speed of transactions.
3 – You’re canvassing during the election campaign, and a voter says “I support your policies, but I don’t support Scottish Independence.” How do you respond?
My focus is on improving the lives of the people in my constituency and region. I think that would be best served with independence, but until there’s a good enough majority so that we don’t get into the fighting that’s happened around Brexit, my local community is going to be my first concern. And then I would change the subject to find out what their own concerns are and link that to how a Green New Deal would serve them best.
4 – What should the party do, and what have you done/will do, to improve our appeal to BAME individuals and communities?
‘Build bridges, not walls,’ is the best principle – the party should ask people in the BAME communities how they would best be served by efforts such as the Green New Deal, and what they would want to see from community development and inclusion, and ask people to help out and welcome them when they do. I as an MSP would respect and support the communities in the region without demanding that they be assimilated, and ask for their help in addressing their concerns. If I get to go to celebrations and other cultural events as a guest, that would be lovely, but it would not be about me.
5 – Young people have activated the climate movement across the world. What are your thoughts on the future of young people shaping politics and how you would enable young people as an MSP?
It’s long past time that the adults listened when the kids say that there is a problem. Current politics is shaped by property owners and retired rentiers who don’t have a stake in any future but that of their own children, and they’ve made sure that that is sewn up. The climate emergency is an actual emergency and will get worse in my lifetime let alone that of the teenagers who have become activists. I would include young people in the political discussions not only by making sure that the vote is given to 16-year-olds across the board, but by promoting seminars and planning sessions for people under 25, and making sure that the results are included – and seen to be included – in the Scottish Government’s decision making.
6 – In recent years sectarianism has got worse in Scotland, how do we deal with this?
I think that we have to promote an inclusive Scotland. Practically that includes limiting antagonistic sectarian displays on all sides, while recognising that they have been supported in the past by bias in the local institutions and government. Sectarian politics spilling over from Ireland, and racist nationalism travelling up from England should have no home here.
7 – What is your view of the party’s policy on trans rights?
I’m all for it. I think that people are people whether they’re trans or cis, and trans and non-binary people are an oppressed minority. As a trans person myself who identifies as ‘it’s complicated’ when asked about my gender, the protection and support that the party’s policy gives me is the only reason I feel safe to stand for office.
8- Should we stand candidates for Holyrood in all the constituencies?
I think we should – “I’d like to vote for you but I can’t” is a powerful argument against people engaging, and “Both votes Green,” is a simple message. However, money issues aside, that means that we have to get campaigners engaged early on so that we have people building up a grassroots awareness of Green policies and presence in every constituency.
9 – What demographics do you believe are the most open for increasing the green vote?
I think the formerly industrial working class have been set aside by capitalism over the last 30-40 years. If we can demonstrate how apprenticeships and modern industries can lead to a secure working life from youth to retirement through a Green New Deal, then we can get the ex-Labour-voting demographic back from the SNP, who are predominantly focused on protecting business and property interests in Scotland.
10 – What are your views on the legal status of sex work?
I think that sex workers should have the strongest voice in determining their legal status and protections. I think that sex work is work, just like every other transaction that involves a person trading their efforts for a living. I think that people trafficking and coercion into sex work is just as much modern slavery as trafficking migrant workers, and protecting, not stripping, the legal rights of sex workers is the way to address modern slavery and protect children. I am advised by people who know better than me that decriminalisation of sex work is the way to go, and I’ll support that.
11 – A major ticking time bomb for Edinburgh is the state of older buildings, especially tenements. The council has no money to intervene, so what can MSPs do, by way of law or other tools, to make a real difference?
In Glasgow it’s the same. This is a major area in which the Green New Deal can have early benefits. Publicly-funded restoration and improvement works will lift people out of austerity-induced poverty and inject money into the economy, while addressing fuel poverty and carbon footprint both, by reducing heating usage and costs.
12 – If you were selected in the lower half of the list, what do you think you’d be best set to do to support higher candidates?
On the ground, the fact that I’m on the list and campaigning door-to-door will be a strong support – there would be no need to mention my chances of getting elected. In the background, I would work on policy statements and research, developing programmes under the Green New Deal.
13 – How can we reach out and win over voters who have never voted Green at Holyrood before?
Ask what they need and what they think before promoting any kind of ideology or identity. The other parties have particular constituencies that they appeal to out of cultural background, but the Greens don’t have to do that. If we are responsive to local needs, then voters will remember us, if not at Holyrood, then in the Council.
14 – What are your views on referenda? Do we need more direct democracy, and if so, how can we help people make well informed decisions?
Referenda can work if they are used properly. If accurate information is presented and an informed populace is asked to present their views then direct democracy can support representative democracy. But 2% of the vote is not a mandate to hijack sovereignty. Before this happens, we would need to develop a culture of learning, not just repeating sound-bites from newspaper headlines. We would also have to strengthen the penalties against misinformation in public campaigning, use of targeted social media, and illegal funding. Once this is done, funded public information campaigns with accurate information could be rolled out, rather than pro-or anti-spun advertising campaigns.
Thank you for your attention. If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments. Please note that comments are moderated and abuse will not make it past the firewall, but may be saved and reported to the police as hate speech.