Two years ago we voted to decide the future of our nation. And now, the time has come to make another decision. Should we stay in the European Union?
There are those on both sides who present this as a simple choice in a shallow debate about whether we should turn away even more people at our borders. But most people know that there’s much more to it than that. The decision before us requires more than just rhetoric. This choice must be informed by principle.
The Scottish Green Party was founded on four principles: peace, equality, environmentalism and radical democracy. Guided by each of these principles, we choose to remain a part of the European Union and to build a better Europe.
For peace, we vote remain. Across the continent, the European Union has built peace. When the guns stop firing and the camera crews go home, it is EU funding and EU programmes that stay and rebuild. Two decades ago, who could have imagined the calm now found in Derry and Sarajevo, Belfast and Belgrade? This peace is imperfect and fragile but the EU has played a crucial part in its creation. We cast it aside to our peril.
For equality, we vote remain. Many of our rights at work are guaranteed by the EU, from annual holiday and days off every week to maternity and paternity leave to basic safety protections. When right wingers in the Leave campaign say they want to strip back ‘red tape’, it is exactly these protections they want to abolish. The EU is also a key ally of LGBTI+ people in Eastern Europe and provides vital programmes and protections for women, from fighting trafficking and violence against women to enshrining equal pay in the law of every country in the EU. Freedom of movement across the EU is an equaliser – it breaks down barriers between nations and between people. We must protect it and all who benefit from it against hateful attacks from the right. And it was through the Union that Green MEPs were able to cap bankers bonuses and begin to crack down on tax dodging.
For the environment, we vote remain. From protecting wildlife and making our beaches clean, to the air we breathe and the climate we inhabit, the EU plays a crucial rule in tackling environmental damage. Climate change does not stop at borders. That is why we must continue to work with other nations across our continent to build a better world, for ourselves and generations to come. To walk away now risks cooperation when it is needed most.
For radical democracy, we vote remain. Greens want to bring power closer to communities. But there will always be issues that go beyond borders, where decisions must be made between nations: from trade agreements to tax dodging pacts; environmental protection to crime detection. Being in the EU means we shape those decisions and choose how to be shaped by them. For many of us, the decisions made by MEPs from this country and others are not the ones we might choose. That is the nature of democracy. But moving power from the EU to Westminster won’t strengthen democracy in the UK or the EU.
In all of human history, we have only built one cross-continental, democratic institution to mediate between independent countries. That institution has helped us build peace, win rights at work and at home, and protect our environment. Building such an extraordinary institution has been hard, and often frustrating. But at the very moment that we are facing vast global challenges, now is not the time to tear it down.
Scotland, we hope you will join us and vote to remain in the EU on the 23rd of June. Together we can build a better Europe.