Highlands & Islands Greens
Moray Greens are pleased to announce that they will be contesting the Westminster Parliamentary seat of Moray in the General Election being held on 7th May this year.
The local membership has confirmed the selection of Moray Greens Convenor, James MacKessack-Leitch as the Scottish Green Party candidate for Moray.
“I am delighted to have been selected by the Moray Greens to be their candidate for the forthcoming General Election,” stated James MacKessack-Leitch. “There’s never been a better opportunity to have a Green candidate on the ballot, with the ongoing 'Green Surge' in membership continuing, more and more people are doing the research and switching on to our progressive and forward thinking politics.”
“The economy will be a central theme of this election, but the Greens are the only party that wants to see a fundamental shift in the way it works. We want to move away from the growth obsessed model that clearly doesn’t work, and place greater value on the local businesses, social enterprises, and High Streets that are the cornerstone of our communities.”
“In the short term we’re committed to making the minimum wage a living wage, and in the long term we’re proposing a complete overhaul of the welfare system, scrapping most benefits and their convoluted administration, in favour of a single universal Citizens Income. This would at a stroke eliminate the need for food banks, providing a proper safety net for the most vulnerable in society. It would also act as an enabler, unleashing the creative and entrepreneurial talents of a generation to diversify and sustain our new economy.”
“As more powers are rightly devolved from Westminster we want to see a revival of local government, and we’ll work hard to prevent Holyrood becoming a centralising blockage to greater devolution. We want our Councils to have the power to govern, and to be locally accountable to the public.”
Independent MSP and Scottish Green Party member John Finnie added, "This election provides an opportunity to vote for the Green Party, the only party which places social and environmental justice, and a sustainable future, at the heart of decision-making.
"The Green Party's enormous rise in membership, the 'Green Surge', reflects repeated polls which show the policies the public value are 'Green' policies.
"I am delighted that James has been selected for the Greens in Moray. He is an outstanding community activist who has already ably demonstrated that he will always put Moray residents and their communities ahead of corporate or other outside interests."
James, 28, currently lives on the family farm at Alves. A graduate of both Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, he has worked in the public and private sectors in a range of roles. He is currently a Director of a local community trust, and has been involved in a number of local campaigns.
The next Moray Greens meeting is on Wednesday 11th February, 7.30pm, in the Transition Town Forres Pavilion, Bogton Road, Forres. All welcome.
Patrick Harvie, MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens;
Isla O'Reilly, the Greens prospective Westminster candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey;
John Finnie, Independent MSP - Highlands & Islands, Scottish Green Party member;
Ariane Burgess, co-convenor, Highlands & Islands Greens.
Madainn mhath. Good morning to you all and thank you very much for your invitation to participate in this exciting event today.
Unfortunately our candidate for Ross Skye & Lochaber, Black Isle community campaigner Anne Thomas, is not able to join us today, as she’s taking part in meetings in the Black Isle. She sends her best wishes and looks forward to both hearing the results of today’s discussions and to coming over to Skye before too long. If you would like to meet her before then, she will be speaking at the TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) public information meeting in the Studio at the Nevis Centre in Fort William, Saturday 14 February from 1.30pm till 4pm.
It’s great to see the Yes Skye, Raasay & Lochalsh Alliance keeping alive the spirit of co-operation and collaboration which characterised so much of the referendum campaign last year.
Greens are very aware of the challenges associated with continuing to collaborate with people from other parties and no party on issues where we have similar views, while engaging in mutually respectful dialogue on issues where our views differ.
At no time will those challenges be tougher than in the run up to elections, and we will have at least three of those over the next couple of years: Westminster this year, Scottish Parliament in 2016, and the Highland Council in 2017.
I am looking forward to engaging in today’s discussions to explore with you how we can remain mutually supportive throughout these election campaigns in Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh.
I also look forward to taking ideas and insights emerging from today to friends and colleagues grappling with similar challenges not only across Highlands & Islands but also elsewhere in Scotland.
To help set the context for our discussions, I would like to reflect on:
- the road we have travelled together in preparation for last year’s referendum;
- why it is important for us all to continue to present our different visions for Scotland;
- why we should do so in mutually respectful and supportive ways.
You won’t need me to remind you that 2014 was an amazing year:
- 2014 was the year during which the people of Scotland realised that politics is way too important to be left to the politicians,
- 2014 was the year during which the people of Scotland engaged with the issues and debated them across the land, largely in a respectful and non-violent manner (as someone said: no bombs, no bullets, one egg: well done Scotland!)
- 2014 was the year during which the people of Scotland, denied the independence for which so many of us campaigned, decided to remain engaged and joined the parties campaigning for real change in unprecedented numbers – Scottish Greens membership went from around 15 hundred a year ago to well over 8 thousand now; Highlands & Islands Greens’ membership went from around 140 a year ago to close to 900 now (as someone else said: we didn’t get a divorce, but we sure got engaged!)
For us Greens 2014 has been the year during which many of the people of Scotland first begun to realise that being Green is about more than “tree-hugging”; a lot more!
We have been able to present our inspiring vision for what Scotland can be, should be and must be: a truly democratic, equal, peaceful and sustainable nation.
We have been able to engage positively with, support and provide inspiring leadership for the campaign for independence not by playing down the differences between our vision and those of others, but by recognising and even highlighting those differences in ways which attracted many more supporters to our common cause.
Our message resonated with those who were uncomfortable with the notion of independence as a manifestation of nationalism based on national identity, but found the proposition of a more democratic and participative society attractive, or even irresistible.
It resonated with those who were uncomfortable with the notion of business as usual; of banks and corporations so big and powerful that elected governments have become their servants, rather than serving the people who elect them.
It resonated with those who were uncomfortable with a notion of national wealth based on extracting every last drop of oil and other fossil fuels from our land and seas, while increasing climate change dictates that we should use those resources sparingly and carefully.
It resonated with those who couldn’t see the point of independence for its own sake, but were inspired by the idea that Scotland could look after its most vulnerable people in a respectful and caring manner by sharing resources more equally, and asking those most able to contribute to do so.
It resonated with those who were uncomfortable with an interpretation of the terms “sustainable development” that reduces the notion of “sustainability” to mere financial viability.
I say our message “resonated” with many of the people of Scotland, but it still resonates now!
So it is of fundamental importance for us Greens to continue to promote our key messages:
Greens need to continue to promote the message that we want all of us to have power over the decisions which have an impact on us; let’s face it: a system of local government based on administrative units covering geographical areas comparable to that of many of the smaller European nations is not “local”; it can hardly be described as “government” either, when well over 80% of its revenue (as well as instructions on what to spend it on) come from central government rather than from the people it should serve and represent.
Greens need to continue to promote the message that we want politicians, banks and corporations to be servants of the people, contributing to and enabling development for the common good rather than to feed the insatiable appetites of the world’s self-serving “elites”.
Greens need to continue to promote the message that we can create a more equal society, not by continuing to pursue unsustainable continuous growth, but by distributing resources more equally, both within nations and between nations.
Most fundamentally, Greens need to reclaim the terms “sustainable development” to mean “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. That’s the definition of sustainable development adopted by the World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland Commission) in their report “Our common future”, published well over 25 years ago.
While the report was accepted by the United Nations, it now looks like that definition, and its underpinning key concepts of prioritising the needs of the poor and accepting that there are environmental limits to growth, have been forgotten by most political parties.
We will be using the Westminster campaign to help ensure these key issues remain centre-stage.
I look forward to discussing with you how we can best do this in a mutually respectful and supportive manner, because it is essential that the people of Scotland remain engaged in politics.
They will only do so if the tone of the debate encourages different views to be heard. A return to yah boo, Punch & Judy style politics, to meaningless posturing, and to belittling anyone whose views differ from our own would just turn people off again, to the advantage of those who like their masses disengaged, and the opposition fragmented and easily controlled.
The future of Scotland is still in Scotland’s hands; let us find ways of working together to make sure it is the kind of future we all campaigned so hard for in 2014.
City of Inverness Area Committee
2nd December 2014
“Highlands and Islands Greens very much welcome the City of Inverness Area Committeeʼs consideration on 2 December 2014 of the implications of the increasing school rolls in Inverness" said Neil Hornsby, Campaigns Co-ordinator for the Highlands and Islands Green Party.
“We note in particular the Council officerʼs report which states that school roll pressures are "likely to result in a number of schools in Inverness nearing or exceeding their Planning Capacity in the near future. Rolls may also continue to rise thereafter in some cases.”
“The reportʼs forecast of pressures on Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis, and Merkinch, Holm, Lochardil, Milton of Leys, Inshes, Smithton and Cradlehall primaries are particularly concerning.
“The Highland Council and indeed the Scottish Government clearly need to identify and prioritise significant capital funding to provide for all these schools. They could make a useful start by axing both the proposed £30 million canal and river crossing, for which there is virtually no business case, and Transport Scotlandʼs proposed £60 million A9-A96 link road which will save just a few seconds on a motoristʼs peak-hour travel and ruin the planned East Inverness district park.”
A review of the first Green Policy Forum (GPF) in Inverness by Vairhi Conway. GPF was organised by Morgan Cowley and John Finnie MSP got the discussions going.