Message of hope from Green MSP

By Isabelle Bell

6 February 2015

Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie looks at the "politics of hope" at a winter seminar event.

The election success of the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece highlights a belief that politics is capable of changing society for the better, according to Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP.

Mr Harvie was speaking at the third of a series of seminars in Edinburgh, hosted by the David Hume Institute and supported by ICAS, featuring the leaders of the main Scottish parties.

The Green MSP said that the Syriza movement was an example of the "politics of hope" in action.

He said: "What we have done over the last few decades hasn't been right and we deserve better. We are going to have to find other ways to show people that politics isn't something that's done to you, but is something that we must all participate in together."

Public energy ownership

Mr Harvie criticised the UK Government's recent response to the oil crisis and claimed that rate cuts for oil companies announced as part of the Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement were "a desperate attempt to prop up a system which we know is finite".

He asked: "Do we want our economy to be so dependent on a 'here today, gone tomorrow' commodity, that when the bubble bursts, it takes us all down with it?"

Mr Harvie urged the Scottish Government and local councils to turn to public ownership models for the energy industry. He said cited that many European countries still have energy companies owned by the public purse and if Scotland followed a similar model, it could lead to an "industrial scale of renewable energy generation".

He added: "The energy industry is not inspired by a shared and collectively owned society. If we could do this in Scotland, then a portion of the industry would be generating clean energy and revenue for the public good."

'Democratic workplaces'

Mr Harvie spoke about a growing inequality and discrimination in the workplace, and the proliferation of zero hours contracts.

He argued that the economic crisis has been used to "drive real terms pay cuts at a time of rising prices and cost of living".

The Glasgow Region MSP said that creating democratic workplaces and following co-operative ownership models would be a "hopeful" employment policy for Scotland.

He said: "The Labour movement was more interested in the idea of workplace devolution than the Labour Party was.  Workplaces need to become democratic again. A great deal of the poverty that we have in our society now is working poverty."

The David Hume Institute Winter Seminar Series also included contributions from Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy MP, First Minister and Scottish National Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP, ahead of the UK General Election on 7 May.  It has already hosted a seminar by Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie MSP and Scottish Conservatives Leader Ruth Davidson MSP. 

The series is supported by ICAS, the Law Society of Scotland, the Royal Society of Scotland and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.


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