DETAILED PLANS FOR FAN-OWNED FOOTBALL

The Green MSPs have confirmed long-standing plans to bring changes to land reform legislation to give football fans the right to buy their clubs.

football logo

The proposals were set out in a consultation response to Holyrood’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee, which is about to start consideration of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill.

The submission also sets out plans by Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who is leading the Greens’ “Fans First” campaign, to broaden the 2003 Land Reform Act to include intangible community assets, not just land, in line with the general principles of the Scottish Government’s proposals. This would help communities to take on and run vital services like pubs, local cinemas, and even public transport.

Alison Johnstone said:

“The time has come for the Scottish Parliament to give fans the power to take on their clubs when they come on the market or when they go into administration, or possibly even at any time for a fair price.
We’ve always argued that fans will tend to be the best custodians of the clubs they love, and that the long-term security and strength of Scottish football requires a move towards the kind of community ownership common elsewhere.

“Scottish Ministers have set up a working group under Stephen Morrow to look at this issue, which we support. However, the group will report after this legislation has been considered, so it’s vital that this legislative opportunity shouldn’t be missed. The changes we’re proposing will still mean fans’ trusts will require Ministerial signoff, just as is already the case with land reform, so the only risk would be if Parliament rejects our proposals, leaving fans with no prospect of progress any time soon.

“So we’re today encouraging all the trusts in Scotland to make their views known. Do they want to cross their fingers and rely on the current slow move to fan ownership, or do they want Parliament’s support to put them in the driving seat?”

More on Alison Johnstone’s Fans First campaign 

View the consultation response 

 

LOTHIAN DELAYED DISCHARGES DOUBLE: MSP URGES ACTION

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, is renewing her call for the Scottish Government to step up its response to the problem of delayed discharges in the region’s hospitals.

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New figures show the number of patients having to wait longer than four weeks to be discharged from hospitals in Lothian has more than doubled in a year. In July this year there were 83 such patients, compared to 39 in April and 37 in July last year.

Alison Johnstone raised the issue of delayed discharges with Health Secretary Alex Neil in parliament earlier this year.

Commenting on the latest figures Alison said:

“While I appreciate we won’t see a solution overnight it’s a real concern that these figures aren’t improving. I have raised the issue with the health secretary, and I’m aware of some distressing and frustrating situations in Lothian region affecting elderly people and their families.

“The Scottish Government and local authorities must step up their action to ensure patients who are ready to be looked after out of hospital aren’t left waiting. We must ensure adequate care home places and care-at-home packages so that people are treated with respect and that our health service resources are being used to best effect.”

 

Exchange between Alison Johnstone and Alex Neil in the chamber, 21 May

Delayed Discharges tables and charts

HARVIE CITES MARGO IN FINAL HOLYROOD INDYREF DEBATE

Patrick Harvie used today’s final Scottish Parliament debate ahead of the independence referendum to invoke the memory of Margo MacDonald, who urged rivals to recognise they have opponents not enemies.

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The independent MSP for Lothian, who died in April, urged mutual respect in the debate. Margo helped form a Green-Independent grouping at Holyrood with Patrick, his Green MSP colleague Alison Johnstone and former SNP MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Margo was right. Scotland deserves a respectful debate, and both sides should strive to achieve this over the final weeks of this creative and engaging campaign.

“Whatever the result on the morning of 19 September we must not return to the kind of politics that left so many people unimpressed and disconnected; the kind of politics Westminster has shown no desire to change. This referendum has reignited public discussion and big ideas and beyond the result we must keep alive the deeper question of what kind of country we want to be.”

Mr Harvie also highlighted the Green position on North Sea oil:

“Greens will continue to oppose the obsession all other parties have shown with squeezing out every drop of North Sea oil. That goes for the SNP just as much as successive UK governments.

But it’s the No side which shows a lack of ambition either for Scotland’s economy or for our environmental responsibilities. They want to extract every last drop in the face of climate obligations, and at the same time fail to invest the revenue in new industries that can take oil’s place.

“By voting yes we’d have the opportunity to build an economy on resources that will last for all future generations.”

And he urged undecided voters to look beyond the White Paper:

“A Yes vote is not an endorsement of everything in the SNP’s White Paper. The most exciting element of this national debate is the creative and broad movement which has developed as the opportunities of independence have become clear.

“The campaign to win a Yes vote must connect voters with the wide range of ideas out there for an independent Scotland, and not just what the current government proposes.”

Rivals urged to behave ‘the Margo MacDonald way’ (Evening News)

 

LESS ASSESSMENT WOULD BENEFIT PUPILS AND TEACHERS

Alison Johnstone MSP says lower levels of assessment in schools would benefit pupils and reduce the massive workload of teachers.

A report published today looking at the first year of the Curriculum for Excellence qualifications says that the new qualifications have been a success overall, but highlights ‘significant and unsustainable level of over‑assessment in many parts of the system’ and a ‘higher level of assessment than was necessary or desirable’. (1).

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian said:

“I congratulate every teacher who has worked hard to make a success of this last year with the new qualifications. We need to get the balance right between learning and assessment and this report reflects my concern that the system is still too heavily weighted towards exams, which doesn’t always lead to better educational outcomes.

“Workloads in the teaching profession remain far too high and the Scottish Education Secretary must address this as one of his top priorities. I believe the Curriculum for Excellence has set us on the right path in Scotland but there is more work to do to achieve a school system that is sustainable and rewarding for both pupils and teachers.”

FRACKING: HARVIE WELCOMES MINISTER’S VIEW ON PIPELINES PLAN

Patrick Harvie is welcoming comments by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing that the Scottish Government intends to resist a plan by the UK Government to allow fracking companies the right to run pipelines under private land.

Pipe

Scottish Greens called for the proposal to be blocked earlier this year.

The Infrastructure Bill put forward at Westminster by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, and supported by Labour, would overrule trespass laws, enabling drilling firms to install pipes to transport gas without landowners’ permission.

A huge swathe of Scotland, from Argyll to Aberdeenshire and from Ayrshire to East Lothian, has been earmarked as ripe for fracking by the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Greens have been calling for this proposal to be blocked in Scotland, so these comments from Fergus Ewing are a good step. Holyrood should reject the UK Infrastructure Bill when it gets the chance to do so by way of legislative consent motions.

“Meantime Scottish ministers should continue to consider the use of existing regulations to ban unconventional gas completely. We are risking our economy, not just our environment, if we encourage yet more fossil fuel extraction.

“Communities such as Airth near Falkirk and Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway are already facing a battle against gas drilling. Given the Scottish Government’s failure to support a ban on fracking or clear buffer zones, and the First Minister’s description of shale gas as an opportunity, many other communities across Scotland will remain deeply concerned at these unwanted, unnecessary developments.”

Scottish Greens Challenge Fracking Plans

Labour to support Government on fracking trespass law change (Click Green)

Minister opposes change in fracking residential drilling rules (BBC)

 

ARMED POLICE: HARVIE WELCOMES REVIEWS

Patrick Harvie is welcoming the announcement of reviews into the controversial routine arming of police officers.

Police

The reviews are being carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

Mr Harvie, MSP for Glasgow, said:

“These reviews are a welcome response to the growing public and political pressure. The police do need to deploy firearms in response to serious incidents, but the sight of armed police on our streets while carrying out routine duties has alarmed many Scots and we deserve to know why it happened and why our communities were not consulted.

“To date the Justice Secretary has brushed this issue off as an operational matter but I believe there is a strong case for ministers being held to account on this dramatic change in our policing culture. Greens opposed the merger of Scotland’s police forces, warning of centralised decisions that didn’t reflect local needs. If the firearms policy isn’t challenged it will represent a major failure of accountability.”

 

LOCAL DEMOCRACY: NEW REPORT ECHOES GREEN IDEAS

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, is welcoming today’s report on strengthening local democracy.

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Earlier this year the Green MSPs published a set of ideas for revitalising local democracy, including creating smaller units of government that have the power to raise the majority of their funding locally.

Today’s report from the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy says 50 years of centralisation has failed to tackle Scotland’s biggest problems, and calls for more local decisions, greater accountability and public participation.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“As Scotland debates whether powers should shift from London to Edinburgh we should also consider how we shift control from Edinburgh to local communities. The current system is unfair and unsustainable. Other European countries take proper local government for granted, and we should aspire to that.

“This report, along with our own ideas, will add momentum to the need to improve how we deliver local services and involve the public. While I think there’s a greater chance of devolving power to communities if we become an independent country, it’s essential we push the issue up the agenda whatever the result of the referendum.”

 

Renewing Local Democracy in Scotland (Report by Andy Wightman for the Green MSPs)

Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy

 

WELFARE: OPPORTUNITY FOR FAIRER SYSTEM

Ahead of today’s Scottish Parliament debate (13 Aug) on welfare, Alison Johnstone says that a Yes vote in the independence referendum would give Scotland the chance to rebuild a welfare state that gives people dignity.

Since 2010, 80 per cent of the £15billion cuts to benefits has been taken from women’s incomes, while foodbanks in Scotland have reported seeing 22,000 children in the past year. The Labour opposition at Westminster has said it will go further in slashing the benefits budget.

Changes to tax and benefits have also harmed lone parents more than other household types.

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, said:

“By taking responsibility for welfare, the Scottish Parliament could rebuild a compassionate welfare system and explore Green ideas such as a Citizen’s Income. This
would reduce red tape and end the stigma associated with receiving benefits.

“The Scottish Government’s Expert Group on Welfare has recognised a citizen’s income is a long term option. Such positive and constructive ideas contrast sharply with
the varying flavours of austerity on offer from Westminster.

“We know from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey that voters strongly associate independence with reducing inequality. What we have on 18 September is an
opportunity to show that a more equal society is possible, one where everyone can live with dignity.”



Green Yes publications

Since 2010, 81% of the £14.9 billion worth of cuts to benefits, tax credits, pay
and pensions has been taken from women’s incomes (Engender)

TRIBUNAL FEES: JOHNSTONE SECURES SUPPORT FOR CAMPAIGN

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today secured a pledge from Scottish ministers that they would put pressure on the UK Government to protest at employment tribunal fees.

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The Coalition introduced fees of between £160 and £1,200 a year ago. Since then there has been an 80 per cent drop in the number of cases going before tribunals.

Today during Youth and Women’s Employment Questions at Holyrood Alison Johnstone raised the issue with Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Access to justice and employment rights is incredibly important. The TUC have said women have been among the biggest losers of the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

“A year down the line we see equal pay claims have dropped and sex discrimination cases are down. I don’t believe there should be any fees, and I am pleased that Scottish ministers will make representations to the UK Government.

“I support the Law Society of Scotland’s call for a review of these patently unfair charges.”

 

Lawyers urge rethink on employment tribunals after fee system leads to slump in number of cases (Daily Record)

TRIDENT: HARVIE ON CHANCE TO TIP BALANCE AGAINST RENEWAL

During today’s Scottish Parliament debate, Patrick Harvie spoke of the opportunity presented by a Yes vote in the independence referendum to strengthen the case against renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Trident sub

The Government motion highlighted the predicted cost of around £4billion a year by the mid-2020s.

The Green amendment lodged by Patrick Harvie called for a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons in Scotland and stated support for a global ban on nuclear weapons.

The Labour Party did not lodge any amendment for the debate.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Trident is an absurd relic. Its removal from Scotland would strengthen the case against its renewal by the UK Government.

“A Yes vote shouldn’t just be viewed as a chance to move Trident but to scrap it altogether. It was disappointing to hear the Libdems describe CND and its supporters as naive, while Labour simply resorted to the worst kind of hand-wringing on this crucial moral issue.

“Nuclear weapons are unsafe and unstable. They have not kept the peace.”