The Green MSPs’ plans to give football fans more rights to buy their club will be debated at Holyrood tomorrow when MSPs return from their Easter break.
Alison Johnstone, Lothian MSP, will lead a debate* on community ownership of football, which comes on the back of the successful Hearts deal last week.
The Greens are proposing a range of changes to the law, including giving fans the right of first refusal when their club comes up for sale, or goes into administration, or a right to buy a proportion of membership shares when they can’t afford full value.
Their ‘Fans First’ campaign will call for these rights to be included in the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill, which already proposes to extend the current ‘right to buy’ laws, which have successfully been used by communities to purchase rural land.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Football clubs are often at the core of our communities and provide excitement, drama, identity and belonging. Community ownership is the norm for clubs in countries such as Germany, but we can do more to secure a better future for Scottish football.
“Too many fans have had to go through painful cycles of financial boom and bust at their clubs. Those clubs that have succeeded in becoming community owned had to overcome great hurdles, and now we need a clear route for community ownership that does not involve a crisis.”
* Motion for debate here
Patrick Harvie is highlighting the results of a survey suggesting people aged 18-35 are more likely to oppose renewal of Trident than their older peers.
The survey, carried out by ComRes on behalf of WMD Awareness, comes as campaigners complete a Spring Walk from Holyrood to Faslane to raise awareness of the 200 nuclear warheads based just 35 miles from Scotland’s largest city.
Patrick Harvie MSP, who spoke at the start of the Spring Walk, said:
“This survey shows how important it is to challenge those determined to squander a hundred billion pounds on a horrific system of mass destruction. While it suggests those who grew up after the Cold War may be more likely to oppose Trident’s renewal I believe there are still too many people in Scotland unaware that these missiles are in our waters and that an attack launched from just one Clyde-based submarine would kill over 5 million people.
“September’s independence referendum is a real chance to say yes to a Scotland free of these nuclear-weapons, a move which could prompt governments around the world to rethink their outdated and dangerous defence priorities. Scottish Greens led a historic Holyrood vote against the renewal of Trident, and we will continue to make the case not just for its eventual removal from Scottish waters but for it to be made inoperable as soon as there is a Yes vote.”
Scottish Green MSPs are paying tribute following news of the death of Independent MSP Margo MacDonald.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said:
“I have felt deeply privileged to work with Margo MacDonald on many issues in my time as an MSP, particularly in recent years through forming the Green/Independent Group and working together on the Assisted Suicide Bill. I’ve always enjoyed the wit and sparkle she brought to debates in the Chamber, but she could also offer a formidable challenge when it was needed, and showed long term dedication to the causes she chose to work for.
“Margo won’t now see the culmination of two debates she was deeply involved in; the referendum on Scotland’s independence, and the Assisted Suicide Bill which she introduced last year. But as both these debates continue, I am certain that campaigners on all sides will recognise Margo MacDonald’s contribution to Scottish public life, her vibrancy and her passion. I know I’ll miss her every time I walk into the Chamber.”
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“Margo MacDonald was a one-off. Compassionate and brave, she was a role model for new and experienced politicians alike.
“Her no-nonsense approach was massively popular with the people in Lothian she represented so well. Regardless of party affiliations Margo’s star quality was indisputable. She will be much missed.”
During today’s Scottish Parliament debate on Developing Skills for Scotland’s Digital Economy, MSP Patrick Harvie highlighted the need to ensure equal access to the internet and robust legal protections for privacy such as a Digital Bill of Rights.
The European Parliament today backed Green proposals on ‘net neutrality’, ensuring an open and free internet, where everyone has access and can contribute.
Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and the Herald’s E-Politician of the Year, said:
“If we’re to reap the cultural and economic rewards of new technology we must ensure people can trust it. I welcome ministers’ commitments to digital skills and infrastructure but these must go hand in hand with digital rights.
“From state and corporate surveillance to personal gadgets with hidden recording abilities it is clear we are struggling to keep pace with changing technology. We must carve out and protect civic space in this exciting digital world, and we should ensure the internet services we increasingly rely on serve the common good, not vested interests.”
Patrick’s parliamentary motion on a Digital Bill of Rights, which has cross-party support
London’s Green MEP comments on net neutrality vote in European Parliament
Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today expressed disappointment at comments to the committee by the Scottish boss of big business lobby group the CBI.
As part of the committee’s inquiry into Scotland’s economic future, Ms Johnstone asked Iain McMillan to justify his organisation’s view that Scotland in the Union is an “economic success story” in light of growing inequality and 200,000 children living in poverty.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“It was extremely disappointing that when questioned about the need to reduce inequality in society the boss of the CBI appeared to say he didn’t understand the meaning of the word. He went on to talk about philanthropy which, while welcome, can never properly address the structural flaws in an economy that leaves so many people behind.
“It is clear to me a Yes vote gives a real opportunity to close the appalling gap between the rich and the rest of society. By taking responsibility for our economy we could choose to support small, indigenous businesses, and grow the kind of well-paid, secure jobs that corporate interests often don’t provide.”
CBI submission to economy committee
Alison Johnstone is welcoming the Scottish Government’s pledge of additional funding to support the roll-out of free school meals for P1-3.
Earlier this year FoI requests by Ms Johnstone revealed many school dining facilities are already at capacity, and many schools have no kitchens in which to prepare fresh food.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Local authorities have quite rightly pressed the Scottish Government to fully fund the roll out of free school meals, and I look forward to the details of how this additional money will be spent. Providing a universal benefit for our primary pupils makes plenty of sense but my research supports concerns I’ve long had about the capacity and quality of school facilities.
“As well as better facilities I hope the additional funding announced today ensures training and support for the 10,000 people directly employed in schools catering. These staff are often undervalued and will be central to the successful roll-out. We must ensure they have the resources they need.”
GREEN MSP UNCOVERS CAPACITY CHALLENGE (Scottish Greens, 24 February)
An extra £12 million resource funding to local government in 2015-16 to further fund the provision of free school meals for P1 – P3 pupils (Scottish Government, today)
Cutting air passenger duty to encourage international flights to and from Scotland is likely to lead to a rise in damaging CO2 emissions, Scotland’s climate change minister admitted today to Patrick Harvie MSP.
Eighteen months ago the First Minister told Mr Harvie that the Scottish Government would put forward an environmental impact of its policy of scrapping the duty but until today no figure has been presented.
Today during a Topical Question at Holyrood on the latest UN report on climate change Mr Harvie was told by minister Paul Wheelhouse that an internal figure he has seen suggests cutting duty would cause emissions to rise.
The minister also conceeded that if emissions from international aviation cause Scotland’s carbon footprint to grow, other sectors of the economy will have to provide deeper emissions cuts to compensate.
Patrick Harvie said:
“The Scottish Government should be stepping up to take responsibility for the failure to meet the first two annual climate targets but instead it is displaying astonishing recklessness. After eighteen months we finally get an admission that cutting taxes for the wealthy aviation industry is not a good idea if we’re serious about reducing our climate change impacts.
“Airlines don’t pay a penny of tax on fuel and they are failing to pay for the pollution they create. Making life easier for big business is not a reason to vote Yes; designing a tax system that makes highly profitable businesses pay for their pollution is.”
First Minister’s Questions, 13 September 2012
Patrick Harvie today welcomed an open letter from senior doctors and health charities challenging the Scotch Whisky Association’s delaying of minimum pricing for alcohol.
Greens were the only opposition MSPs to support the measure in the 2007-11 parliament and again voted for it when it was passed two years ago but it has been delayed by a legal challenge from the SWA. A judge ruled against the SWA but the lobby group is appealing the decision.
Doctors and charities accuse the SWA of mirroring the tactics of the tobacco industry in delaying life-saving legislation.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“Charities and doctors are right to challenge the Scotch Whisky Association, and we can only hope public pressure mounts. Many of these companies are vastly profitable multinationals, not traditional independent distillers, and they seem all too willing to risk public health for bigger profits.
“The situation is another sad example of how corporate interests stifle democracy, from the historic tactics of big tobacco to the childish antics of Donald Trump. Two years on from minimum pricing being passed by parliament, it’s clearer than ever that we need to challenge the dominance of the drinks industry by big firms whose focus will always be profit. They overshadow the welcome growth of small, independent brewers and distillers who put quality ahead of volume sales, and genuinely benefit our local communities.”
The open letter
In today’s Scottish Parliament debate on child poverty, Alison urged consideration of ideas including a basic income for all citizens.
Alison, a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, highlighted a range of research including:
-A paper by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which says the single biggest risk to progress is benefit cuts and growing use of sanctions.
-Research by the Fawcett Society which says a fifth of British women’s income comes from benefits, while for men the figure is one-tenth; therefore the loss of benefits and services hits women hardest.
-The Jimmy Reid Foundation report ‘In Place of Anxiety’. The authors Willie Sullivan and the late Ailsa McKay focused on tackling the poverty wages that create in-work poverty.
“We live in a wealthy nation yet inequality is increasing, and the austerity agenda has a particular impact on women and children. Families struggling have not chosen to be in poverty, and are bearing the brunt of the UK cuts making the situation worse.
“One idea we would do well to explore is the citizen’s or basic income. This would replace our incredibly complex welfare system and end the stigma that many people face.
“It’s essential we measure our economic success on how we close the gap between rich and poor and how we create a fairer society for children.”
Jimmy Reid report
Alison Johnstone is criticising Midlothian Council for failing to support community proposals to develop much-needed facilities in the vacant Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre.
At yesterday’s council meeting a decision to demolish the centre was postponed for three months to allow any new bids to be considered along with existing bids.
Alison has strongly backed a bid by Bonnyrigg Centre Trust for a social hub with soft play, a cafe and a youth club. The trust’s comprehensive business plan was independently assessed by external organisations who said while there were some weaknesses they could be overcome.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“This was a golden opportunity for Midlothian Council to support the aims of a community it is supposed to serve but instead it has chosen to continue crushing local people’s hopes. My Green colleague councillor Ian Baxter put forward the perfectly reasonable suggestion of giving the community trust preferred bidder status to enable them to access potential funding, and giving them six months to prepare to take over the building.
“Instead of responding positively and constructively to a bid that has huge support in the community and huge social potential, the two big parties on the council have passed the buck. I find it hard to imagine the situation will have changed in three months.”