•4. April 2011 •
You will be relieved to know that the dispute between the Stirling Greens and the chattering monkeys to whom the writing of this blog is subcontracted has now been resolved. Hurrah.
So, what’s been happening during those long cold months when we’ve been haggling over bananas and bonus payments for using big, clever-sounding words? Well, among other things, we’ve got a new badge. Nice, isn’t it? More importantly, we are now hurtling towards the final month of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election campaign.
We’re campaigning in Mid Scotland and Fife, and our candidates, led by Mark Ruskell and Hilary Charles, are working to increase Green representation in Holyrood. The Scottish Greens are putting forward a manifesto based on fairer taxes as an alternative to the coalition government’s programme of savage cuts, protection for essential public services and a more sustainable Scotland. You can download our spring newspaper, Better Nation, for more details of the campaign, and if you are able to help in any way – for example, delivering campaign materials in your area, displaying a poster, making a donation – please get in touch. Your support is vital!
In this extract from Better Nation, Mark Ruskell discusses his approach to politics and how the Greens can make a difference…
Why are you standing again for election to the Scottish Parliament?
Mark Ruskell: I believe the Green approach offers a bold, progressive and honest type of politics, and this is needed more than ever. The opportunity to give voters that choice is very exciting. As an MSP I learnt a great deal about how Holyrood works and I’m passionate about using the Parliament creatively to change lives for the better.
I am not afraid to put myself and my political career on the line to make that happen. I think some of our supporters who switched to other parties last time round will look back on the last four years and ask, what has really changed for the better?
How did you make a difference the last time you represented Mid Scotland and Fife?
MR: I led the successful campaign in Parliament against ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth, brought forward legislation on climate change and regulation of GM crops, and supported campaigns on issues as diverse as community land ownership, fair prices for farmers, rail station re-openings, support for the voluntary sector, animal welfare and stopping Trident.
If the Greens are in a strong position of influence after 5. May I think I could achieve a lot more for communities across the region the second time round.
How can the Greens ‘win’ at this election? Won’t you be squeezed out by big parties like Labour and the SNP?
MR: The biggest party in the Scottish Parliament will never be able to govern alone because of the way the proportional voting system works. Our two Green MSPs who currently sit in Parliament have been able to use their crucial votes to make demands on, for example, action for warm homes.
Even with small numbers we can be influential, but only if enough people split their votes and use their 2nd or regional vote for the Greens.
You talk about honest politics, but how can we be sure you wouldn’t compromise your policies like the Lib Dems have done?
MR: I know many people including personal friends who voted Liberal Democrat in the last Westminster election, but were shocked at how key polices such as student fees, maintaining public services and proportional voting were dropped by them in coalition. Politics often needs compromise, but parties need to be upfront as to what areas they may negotiate on in entering a coalition and what policies are off limits.
What are the big issues that you think the Greens – if elected – can make a difference on after 5. May?
MR: We have all the big parties in Scotland now arguing for cuts in public spending, which will be disastrous for the economy and for the most vulnerable in our society. Many people are now losing their jobs as a result, while investment in areas of business growth such as housing and renewable energy is lacking. Scotland needs to play its role in reducing the deficit, but we also need to find ways to raise more tax revenue using the parliament’s powers in a fair and progressive way.