28 September 2012
To mark International Right to Know Day today Scottish Greens are urging the Deputy First Minister to commit to a timescale for discussing ways to extend Freedom of Information (FoI) laws.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, has written to Nicola Sturgeon, whose new cabinet responsibilities include FoI.
Existing powers to extend FoI to other organisations have never been used, and a previous plan by the SNP government to do so was shelved following opposition from private bodies.
However, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently told Holyrood’s Finance Committee that she was happy to discuss extension of coverage after the current bill on FoI has completed its parliamentary process. This is likely to take several months.
Alison Johnstone said:
“In the decade since Freedom of Information came in public accountability has clearly been eroded. There are now more than 130 private and arms-length organisations delivering public services such as leisure and sports facilities and they are not covered by FoI.
“I have written to the deputy first minister welcoming her comments and asking her to outline why she feels a delay is appropriate and if she would be willing to set a timescale for the start of a discussion. There is a keen public appetite to look at extending FoI sooner rather than later.”
27 September 2012
The Scottish Government is to consider attending an international conference on nuclear weapons after the event was highlighted by the Scottish Greens.
Next March the government of Norway will host the conference, which will look at the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Campaigners are hopeful it will encourage the development of a treaty banning the devices.
Today Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament chamber, resulting in SNP minister Keith Brown promising that officials would find out more and consider what to do.
“I’m pleased to have brought this important event to the attention of the Government and would urge them to attend. Nuclear weapons such as Trident are an affront whether they’re based on the Clyde or anywhere else, something you think Scottish ministers would be keen to highlight in a high-profile setting.
“While the SNP leadership’s desire to join the NATO nuclear alliance and commit billions of pounds to the military is a policy issue for them, the growing support for a ban on weapons of mass destruction is something progressive governments should be championing at every available opportunity.”
26 September 2012
Scottish Greens are renewing their challenge to the SNP Government to back the Save the Arctic campaign in light of comments by an oil industry chief that energy companies should not drill in Arctic waters.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of Total, says a leak would be “a disaster” and “would do too much damage to the image” of his company.
The SNP has said the retreat of Arctic ice presents “economic and military opportunities“.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“Given the SNP Government’s adoration of oil and gas, perhaps it will change its tune on those so-called opportunities now an industry bigwig has spoken out. Arctic sea ice cover has reached a record low so protection of the region has never been more important.
“If the SNP Government continues to encourage potentially disastrous exploration it will show how out of step it is. Ministers have already presided over a failure to meet Scotland’s first carbon reduction targets so they really need to up their game if they want to be taken seriously on the environment.”
25 September 2012
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, is highlighting a new study by the University of Glasgow which shows Scots’ waistlines have become bigger in the last 10 years.
The average man’s waist is now 39 inches while the average woman’s is 35.
Alison, a qualified athletics coach and co-convener of the Scottish Parliament cross-party group on cycling, said:
“This increase should shock the Scottish Government into action. Ministers and local authorities need to make it much easier for us to include physical activity in our daily lives.
“Instead the SNP continues to ramp up spending on motorways and trunk roads while failing to honour its own manifesto pledges about sustainable and active travel. Creating safe cycle routes and giving pedestrians priority are ideas ministers find challenging, yet they can easily find billions to fast-track another Forth Bridge and a bigger A9.
“Councils continue to give planning permission to suburban sprawl and out of town retail hangars instead of encouraging local shops we can walk or cycle to. At all levels we must act on the warning signs, and prioritise preventative spending if we want future generations to enjoy long, healthy lives.”
25 September 2012
Responding to comments from the Finance Secretary supporting a change in the SNP’s policy on NATO, Greens have reiterated their opposal to Scotland continuing in NATO and have condemned the proposal for a minimum spend of £2.5bn on defence.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“Trying to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland while joining a nuclear alliance makes no sense whatsoever, and I’m also dismayed to see the Finance Secretary backing a motion that explicitly commits the SNP to throwing a whopping £2.5billion a year on military spending in an independent Scotland. The idea of a NATO-backed minimum spend on defence, much of which will go on aggressive military hardware, is extremely disturbing.
“The real security threats of this century will be around energy, food and the climate. Being part of a Cold War nuclear club would put Scotland on the wrong international footing.”
25 September 2012
Scottish Greens say the Labour party policy review announced today by Johann Lamont signals a threat to key policies such as free higher education and prescriptions.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:
“Johann Lamont wants a debate about radical ideas to change the country, and I would welcome Labour onto the radical ground of politics. Many of their own members know they’ve been steering clear of it for far too long.
“If Labour wants to know how to raise revenue fairly to protect public services, I’d be happy to talk to them about Land Value Taxation. If they want to know about radical welfare reforms that would genuinely empower people, I’ll introduce them to the Citizens’ Income idea.
“But if policy reform means ending the free education Johann Lamont’s generation enjoyed, or charging patients for NHS services, or continuing to court the support of big business donors for middle-of-the-road policies, Labour are free to continue their decline. They will leave the debate about Scotland’s future to those who already have a sense of direction, and who see 2014 as a positive opportunity to take Scotland forward.”