Believe in Scotland will share summaries of main parties’ priorities for an independent Scotland as their proposals are released.
The Scottish Greens produced the first in a series of “green papers” setting out its vision for an independent Scotland last week, titled: “Independence: For people, for planet“. The Greens are a junior member of Scotland’s government – but the “Bute House Agreement” recognises each party’s “right and duty to set out its own vision of independence”.
In an independent Scotland, of course, the Greens would set out their policies, like other parties, and put them to the people. The first booklet in the series entitled: “Independence: For People, For Planet” puts the environment and climate change front and centre of the Greens’ agenda.
Building on Green achievements
The Greens want to build on what they see as their achievements in government.
“We are tackling the climate crisis, with an active travel revolution, an unprecedented £500m Just Transition Fund and record investment to make homes warmer, greener and easier to heat. We are tackling the cost of living crisis, with the rapid rollout of free school meals, the massive expansion of the Scottish Child Payment and unprecedented action to protect tenants with the rent freeze and the eviction ban. But devolution isn’t enough.”
The Green paper argues that with “all the powers of a normal, independent country”, Scotland could achieve a lot more.
1 Funding a Just Transition
The Scottish Greens argue that an independent Scotland could be a leader on climate change. Currently, Holyrood has no power over the regulation and taxes of the oil and gas sector.
Under independence, the Scottish Greens would look to ban further fossil fuel exploration and to hasten the transition to green energy, developing capacity in renewables, the grid and energy storage technology such as pumped hydro. They also want to massively increase the effort to insulate homes. The report says:
“Only with the powers of an independent country can Scotland deliver the radical climate action we need. Currently, power over the oil and gas under Scottish waters sits at Westminster. Holyrood doesn’t have the financial powers we need to properly invest in the transformative green infrastructure we need to tackle the climate crisis.”
2 Increased environmental protection
The UK government is promising a bonfire of EU environmental protections. The Green party believes that will damage Scotland. They argue Holyrood needs the powers of independence to properly protect nature and the environment.
“With independence, Scotland can undo the damage done by Brexit deregulation and make sure Scotland is a world leader in environmental standards and protection. With a written constitution, Scotland can enshrine rights for nature in law, recognising our responsibility to look after our natural world.”
3 A European Scotland
When independent Scotland rejoins the EU, Scotland’s Greens will look to work with other green parties across Europe on shared priorities such as climate action and social justice.
“Scotland has always been a European nation. In 2016, we voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union – yet despite this, we were dragged out of the EU. With Brexit, we lost our rights to free movement and the ability to live, work and study across Europe. We lost the chance to cooperate across a continent to solve the biggest challenges we face. With independence, Scotland can rejoin the European Union and retake our place in the European family of nations”
4 A Welcoming Scotland
Scotland currently has no control over immigration. It has an ageing population with an average age of 42, two years older than England, and a low birth rate. But as part of the UK, Scotland has no say over who can come to live and work in Scotland. The Scottish Greens would like to see an independent Scotland reject the “hostile environment” created by the UK government and create its own immigration policy.
“For decades, from the Glasgow Girls to the Kenmure Street protests, people have resisted the racist tactics of successive UK Governments who sought to divide our communities and turn neighbours against one another. With independence, Scotland can end the hostile environment and build a country which is welcoming to all. Scotland can treat refugees and asylum seekers with the respect that they deserve, and we could uphold the Refugee Convention, playing our part in the global community.”
5 A fairer, happier Scotland
The Scottish Greens want to put well-being at the heart of the economy. They support replacing welfare payments with a guaranteed basic income that citizens could not fall below. They would also like to see Scotland move to a four-day working week. They also want to see wages increase.
“Scotland can shift the balance of power in our economy by taxing wealth fairly, protecting trade unions and paying workers what they deserve with a Real Living Wage for all.”
Devolution is not enough – independent Scotland could do more
The Scottish Greens want to see Scotland become one of the greenest and most climate-conscious countries in the world.
They argue that in order to create a just transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, independence is necessary. It is also a first step to creating a more equal society.
In this paper, the Green Party is setting out a vision for what independence could mean. It is a valuable contribution to the debate. After independence, Scotland’s people will get to decide on their government and what its priorities are.