Friday, April 17th, 2015
Dingwall Women’s aid hustings
The meeting in Caol, Lochaber was full to overflowing with an estimated 170 people and standing room only. It was organised by four community councils and there had not been one for many years. The turn out demonstrates a new engagement in politics. It was a full house with all 7 candidates attending.
At both hustings there was tension between the SNP and Lib Dem camps and their candidates think it is not particularly edifying for either candidate to resort to personal attacks. What people want to hear about are what people’s party policies are on different issues and during the campaign and in hustings they want their questions answered honestly and directly. Greens aim to run a positive campaign. We are standing for people planet and peace. We want all to have their needs met. We want local control. We want to look after our planet for current and future generations. We support local businesses and community energy. We reject the current austerity cuts to the poor at the same time as the wealthy and multi-nationals are avoiding tax. At the women’s aid hustings in Dingwall last night the spat between the SNP and Lib Dem candidates over-shadowed the questions to which people wanted proper answers.
They asked about things like why the current government had allowed people in Highland to continue to pay higher prices for electricity, how the tax regime could support the voluntary sector, how laws could support equality and discriminatory laws scrapped and how selling off social housing before enough alternatives were built made any sense.
On electricity pricing I answered that companies should be one price for electricity across the and standing charges should be scrapped as we have been calling for for several years. These cost about £100 a year before anyone has used any energy and are regressive. It would also be much easier to compare prices without them. We also believe that the only way to permanently tackle fuel poverty is to build much more energy efficient houses and properly insulate the rest.
On tax Greens are calling for a land value tax which would be much fairer and making sure multinationals and wealthy individuals pay. We also recognise the contribution that community renewable energy schemes have made to bringing income into the voluntary sector in fragile communities.
On equality legislation Greens would be very supportive of this. Internally we are very careful to operate gender balance and it just becomes the norm.
On social housing the land value tax should release more land which has been land banked for house building, and bring empty homes back into use, but we also have smaller households and need to build accommodation that is suitable e.g. attractive sheltered homes in communities where people have always lived which are well insulated. Simply removing stock for rent without providing an alternative does not make sense.