Lothian Greens commit to NUS Scotland campaign

The Scottish Green Party’s top candidate in the Lothian region, Alison Johnstone, today confirmed her unequivocal support for NUS Scotland’s Reclaim Your Voice campaign by signing up to the campaign’s key pledges.

The campaign calls on politicians across Scotland’s political parties to rule out the introduction of student tuition fees, to protect graduate numbers and college places, and to improve student support after the election. It is supported by all of the Greens’ top candidates across the whole of Scotland.

The Greens’ national election campaign, which was launched last week, included the protection of free education as one of the party’s three key election campaign pledges, alongside a £100m a year programme to insulate every home in Scotland, and a commitment to fairer taxes to support investment in public services. (2)

Alison Johnstone, the Greens’ top candidate in the Lothian region, said:

“Across Edinburgh and the Lothian region our universities and colleges, as well as local students, are being squeezed by the current cuts agenda. They should know that the Scottish Green Party stands with them, and I have made a promise to the NUS that, when elected, I will not vote for any fees, under any name, nor any additional graduate contribution. Graduates already make a fair contribution through income tax, and the more they earn, the more they pay.

“I fully support NUS Scotland’s Reclaim Your Voice campaign, even if politicians from other parties have a track record that’s undermined the credibility of promises made to students. It’s not just the Lib Dems, either – Labour introduced fees in 1997, and the SNP broke a clear pledge to abolish student debt in 2007.”

“Not only will Greens oppose a return to tuition fees in Scotland, we’ll oppose a graduate tax too. There already is one, and it’s called income tax.”

Patrick Harvie, Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, added:

“We know that closing down educational establishments and teaching departments weakens higher education for the longer term. The NUS Scotland campaign therefore poses a tough question for the other parties who want to look like they’re backing students; where’s the money coming from?

“Only the Greens are ready with an alternative to the cuts, built on fairer taxes so the wealthiest pay more and public services can be protected. That way we know we can fund higher education properly and keep fees out for the long term.”

Liam Burns, President of NUS Scotland, added:

“The Scottish Greens have made a firm commitment to Scotland’s students, which is great news. Students across Scotland will now be working to secure similar commitments from candidates across all the parties standing in May’s elections. In what could be a really close contest any party or candidate that does commit to students can expect to see the difference at the ballot box in May.”

“The Scottish Greens have shown that they’re fully committed to Scotland’s students. This is testament to the hard work of thousands of students over the last few weeks and months. By backing our campaign and committing to fight fees, protect numbers and improve financial help for students during the next parliament it’s clear that the voice of students in Scotland is beginning to be heard loud and clear.”

“We cannot see fees ruled out only to see financial help for the poorest students continue at their current inadequate levels. If the Scottish Greens are promising to use public funding to rule out fees, protect numbers and improve student support, something we very much welcome, then that clearly leaves no need for any kind of graduate contribution.”