Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Green Policy Forum - Defence & NATO

Friday, November 21st, 2014

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.

Green Policy Forum – Defence and NATO, with John Finnie MSP
It’s a good idea to practice the Green approach to politics, on ourselves as well as others. With this in mind, when the first meeting of Inverness Greens said they wanted to learn more about the party, it seemed only right to take on board the expressed needs of the people and respond with a Green solution.

One new member had mentioned that he had experience of organising discussion groups. Morgan Cowley therefore became organiser of our new Green Policy Forum.

Morgan had a list of topics he was interested in, which chimed with those spoken about in that first meeting. He also had a great format for the events, which would allow everyone to pitch in their ideas and learn from each other.

Two or three of us suggested local experts to lead on each subject, so they could give an up-to-date view of party policy. Morgan has since been booking up five months worth of speakers.

We were delighted that John Finnie MSP, could lead our first event. Despite having to be in Holyrood that afternoon for Alex Salmond’s farewell, somehow John made it back to Inverness in time.

Talking on the subject of defence, John highlighted the need of a government to essentially conduct ongoing risk assessments on the risks posed to its citizens and then put in place measures to deal with those risks. That a defence policy should serve the citizens’ interests and that wars generally do not, but they do make a lot of money for certain types of businesses.

Greens see climate change as the biggest risk to humanity but so that we didn’t simply end up discussing what we already know, the talk focused on things like the arms trade, international cooperation and conflict resolution.

Morgan split us into groups, which each tackled one of the smaller themes, then each group shared what it had discussed. It was a good way to have the opportunity for a bit of a chat as well as to cover a lot of ground.

My favourite take away from the night was on the argument around jobs. John pointed out that the defence industry has many employees in Scotland and that when you oppose the defence industry you are often accused of not caring about people’s jobs. He emphasised that we cannot accept the argument that jobs must be protected, no matter what they entail. This has stuck with me. If a group of people believe that the only means they have of providing for themselves and their families is to be part of an industry that relies on killing people and families somewhere else, that is a shocking situation in today’s Scotland. A responsible and compassionate government owes its citizens much better options than that.

The next Green Policy Forum will be on Wednesday 10th December, 7-9pm in the new Yes shop on Church Street, Inverness. David Jardine will be leading the talk on housing policy.