MSP report

Lothian Green MSPs’ report – Nov 2020

Success in banning winter evictions, preparing for an unusual festive period, looking at the impact of COVID on gender, and more.

This is a report to you, our Party colleagues, focusing on our work as MSPs in recent weeks. To keep up with our work from day-to-day, you can follow us via our social media pages, and the Party website.

Twitter: @alisonjohnstone and @andywightman
Facebook: @Alison.Johnstone.Green and @AndyWightmanMSP

  • In the Green debate calling for Holyrood to declare a Nature Emergency, Alison called for alternative, more productive use of land currently used for driven grouse shooting, and the legal cruelty inflicted on our wildlife while 1-in-9 Scottish species are in danger of extinction.
  • In the next Evening News article, Alison highlighted that “in good faith, the Scottish Greens thought this was something all parties could get behind. Astonishingly though, the SNP blocked the vote … propped up by the Conservatives.”
  • Relentless work by Andy, Living Rent, and campaigners across the country paid off with welcome, though belated, confirmation from the Scottish Government that no evictions of tenants in the private rental sector will take place over the Christmas and New Year period.
  • Alison wrote about the impact of coronavirus on existing gender inequality, and the need to build a recovery that values women’s work.
  • Andy secured Scottish Government support for his member’s bill to incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots law, a landmark bill which will help improve the standing of local government in Scotland.
  • Alison won Parliament’s support for her proposals to scale up Scotland’s Covid-19 testing capacity to better control the spread of the virus.
  • Following the Scottish Government’s announcement that they will bring forward legislation relating to the regulation of short-term lets, Andy wrote about their proposals, which come after years of campaigning on the issue.
  • At FMQs, Alison called on the Scottish Government to make comprehensive support available for those who need to self-isolate to protect others.
  • Andy expressed his concern at the Scottish Government’s failure to give homeowners sufficient notice of changes to standards for smoke and heat alarms.
  • Alison called for an end to the inaction that is making our streets a danger to the public, saying “roads do not exist to serve cars. They exist to serve people.”
  • Andy spoke to a local student about their plan to address bike theft in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK.
  • Alison was quoted about concerns raised by advisers to both UK and Scottish governments about relaxing restrictions over Christmas. In her Evening News article, Alison looked ahead to what will be an unusual festive period for all of us, and she also highlighted the need for clarity on extending the Christmas school holidays.
  • Andy commented on a City of Edinburgh Council survey asking for views on changes to car parking facilities, camping permits and footpaths in the Pentlands Regional Park.
  • Having consistently called for Scotland to show much more ambition on asymptomatic testing, Alison welcomed a move in the right direction for university students ahead of the festive period, but raised concerns that the minister couldn’t commit to the same robust testing when students return in January.
  • After MSPs backed a Green motion including a call for regular Covid-19 testing for asymptomatic school staff and senior pupils, the Scottish government said it will begin trials at the beginning of the new term in January. Alison asked for reassurances that we won’t be waiting for months for a regular testing programme to be rolled out, given the length of time taken to make regular testing available to other frontline workers.
  • The Daily Record covered our response to the lack of urgency from the Scottish Government over testing in hospitals. Alison has been calling for routine testing of NHS and care staff since April. The Scotsman covered Alison’s FMQ about the decision to close a Scottish Covid-19 testing lab, and calls to move away from an “old and outdated” testing strategy.
  • Alison also called it completely unacceptable that NHS 24 workers were told to disable the contact tracing Protect Scotland app while at work.
  • Following the news that rent rises in Edinburgh have continued to outstrip inflation, Andy published a paper on the abject failure of Rent Pressure Zones.
  • Alison spoke in the debate ‘Making Scotland Equally Safe’, as the Green MSPs joined colleagues in the Scottish Parliament to recognise the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, and the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
  • In a debate on the impact of Covid-19 on musicians and the music industry, Andy warned that without more support for musicians, we risk losing much of the rich musical culture of Scotland.
  • Alison asked the Scottish Government why it has given the shooting lobby one last hurrah, by delaying until next March the protection of Mountain Hares that Parliament voted for in June. Alison appeared on BBC Alba’s Eòrpa, as the programme examined current practices on shooting estates.
  • Andy continued to scrutinise the issue of zero valuation and cladding in Local Government and Communities Committee, raising the problem of buildings that are fundamentally dangerous.
  • MSPs backed plans to allow survivors of rape and sexual assault to provide forensic evidence without reporting it to the police. Alison highlighted that constituents have told of being retraumatised after reporting their assaults, and said it is important that people are referred on to other key services.
  • Andy asked the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation about his plans to ensure that Foreign Direct Investment in Scotland does not involve phantom investment or billions of pounds of outflow in economic value.
  • Alison responded to the discovery of a Golden Eagle’s satellite tag, in a river wrapped in heavy lead sheeting.