MSP report

Lothian Green MSPs’ report – Sept 2019

Conservation of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill, Climate Strikes, young carers, short-term lets, Sick Kids public inquiry, No Deal Brexit, and more.

Alison Johnstone MSP and Andy Wightman MSP report to Party colleagues, focusing on their work as MSPs in recent weeks.

To keep up with their 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

  • After SNP commitments to strengthen the laws on foxhunting did not appear in the programme for government, the League Against Cruel Sports expressed their deep disappointment, and reaffirmed their support for Alison’s Member’s Bill. This was followed by the revelation that Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, supports current loopholes in fox hunting laws, and wants to continue to allow the use of dogs when hunting and killing foxes.
    New data also emerged showing that Scotland’s mountain hare population has declined by 90% on some grouse moors, with management of land for bloodsports playing a major role. Alison described it as “an absolute disgrace due to years of inaction by the Scottish Government and its nature conservation agency”.
    Consultation for Alison’s Proposed Protection and Conservation of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill closed on Sunday 15th September, having received almost 10,000 responses.
  • On the fifth anniversary of the 2014 referendum, Andy called for the monarchy to relinquish any claims to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, next to the Scottish Parliament, so that it can be used as a second chamber for Holyrood.
  • Alison wrote about City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to allow pupils only one day off school per year to strike for action on the climate emergency.
  • At FMQs, Andy raised our concerns about young people being warned they could be locked up for protesting against climate change on Princes Street.
  • Alison recorded a message of support at the huge Climate Strike in Edinburgh, and then handed over her Evening News column to 15-year-old organiser, Dylan Hamilton.
  • The National wrote about Andy’s renewed calls for the Scottish Government to stop another horrific abuse of animals – grouse shooting.
  • Alison welcomed the announcement that a Young Carer Grant will be introduced in Scotland, going some way towards offering young people with caring responsibilities the same opportunities as their peers. This was proposed in the Greens’ 2016 manifesto, and subsequently backed by the First Minister.
  • The Times quoted Andy in their article about lucrative Airbnb rentals fuelling Edinburgh’s housing crisis. Andy’s efforts to deliver effective legislation on short-term lets were highlighted in Holyrood magazine, and he was quoted in the National, discussing the release of a new documentary from award-winning director, Fredrik Gertten, telling the story of how people are being driven out of urban centres in cities around the world.
  • Alison wrote about the uncertainty surrounding the new Edinburgh ­Children’s Hospital in an article for the Evening News, and wrote about the issue further to highlight that the private finance model led to the problems facing the hospital. Alison also responded to a Ministerial Statement on the issue, and welcomed the announcement of a public inquiry into safety and wellbeing issues here, and at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, but said the Health Secretary must not use the inquiry as “an excuse to avoid legitimate parliamentary scrutiny”.
  • Andy is continuing to lead for the Greens on the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill, and the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, as these make their way through Parliament.
  • Alison responded to the publication of the ‘Yellowhammer documents, revealing that, among the disastrous impacts of a No Deal Brexit, low income groups would be disproportionately affected, and the supply of medicines placed at risk.
  • Andy’s previous involvement in the successful legal case to establish that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 was highlighted in media coverage of legal challenges to Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament.
  • Alison wrote for the Evening News about the impact that Brexit would likely have on our health and care services, not least given the pressures already faced by the sector. Alison had previously responded to a new Audit Scotland report on the challenges facing general practice, which confirmed issues highlighted during a recent Holyrood debate called by the Scottish Greens.
  • Andy spoke to the Ferret for their article about calls for new rules to improve the management of common good funds.
  • Alison was among the women who took part in the Scottish Women Stand event in Holyrood, discussing experiences of being a candidate or elected official, and aiming to inspire those so far underrepresented at every level of politics in Scotland to put themselves forward for upcoming elections.
  • Alison wrote about the fires raging through the Amazon, calling these “an international crime on a massive scale by a far-right ­government and its cronies in big business”.
  • Andy spoke to the Herald about young families being frozen out of owning a home in rural areas, and the overall lack of affordable housing to meet the needs of rural communities.
  • In FMQs, Alison highlighted the lack of ambition in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, noting that reforesting Scotland is a critical component of our Scottish Green New Deal.
  • Andy’s most recent attempts to give communities a stronger role in the planning process get a mention in this article from Councillor Ashley Graczyk.
  • Alison wrote in the National about the latest UK government proposals to change pension eligibility.
  • Andy highlighted the scale of the problem of empty homes in Scotland, with over 100,000 empty and under-used second homes across the country, and a desperate lack of affordable homes for those in need. Another Scotsman article also looked at Andy’s work in this area.
  • Alison’s comments that Scottish Government efforts to tackle drug-related deaths “completely fails to recognise the scale of the crisis Scotland faces and the urgency of the response required” were reported by the Daily Record. Alison then added her name in support of the Record’s campaign calling for drug deaths to be recognised as a national emergency, in need of greater funding to help harm reduction and recovery services.
  • Andy welcomed confirmation of the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce a Bill modernising defamation law.
  • Alison responded to East Lothian Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, while its own pension fund invests millions of pounds in some of Scotland’s biggest polluters.
  • Andy called for the abolition of “landlord wants to sell” as grounds for eviction.
  • The East Lothian Courier wrote about Alison’s motion in Holyrood, supporting the campaign for a safe route for walking and cycling to be created between Gullane and Drem. Alison also hosted an event to celebrate Scotland’s Walking Champions.
  • Andy and Alison joined members of the Liberton Association, to visit sites under persistent threat of development in the area.
  • Alison spoke on Good Morning Scotland on the Scottish Government’s transport policy, and how it is failing us all. You can listen here from 1:14:29.
  • Ruth Wishart wrote about land ownership in Scotland, highlighting Andy’s work over the years to expose the scale of inequality.
  • Alison signed up to Oxfam Scotland’s pledge to say no to new clothes for 30 days to help both planet and people, and promoted the initiative with a Parliamentary motion.
  • Andy and Alison took part in events offering the chance to find out more about life as an MSP or a candidate.
  • Alison spoke at the South of Scotland Greens regional conference, to discuss her Member’s Bill proposals, and other rural land issues alongside Donald McPhillimy of Greener Melrose and Rewilding Scotland.