Saturday, 30 April 2011

Commitment to Cancer Research

I fully support the work of Cancer Research UK and if elected, I will seek to help make Scotland's cancer outcomes among the best in Europe in the next ten years and will support measures to:

1) Detect cancer earlier
2) Provide world-class cancer treatments
3) Prevent more cancers
4) Tackle cancer inequalities
5) Protect Scotland's research base

I have some experience of cancer through being employed for 2 years to help develop patient transport for people being treated for cancer at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.  

Also, I have helped fundraise for projects supporting cancer treatments and members of my family have been affected by cancer. 

Cancer is an issue that affects many thousands of people in Scotland, and I appreciate the ongoing support needed from governnment to deliver much needed services.

It is essential that the next session of the Scottish Parliament helps to improve Scotland's cancer outcomes and I will work to meet the priorities set out in the Beat Cancer campaign.

Useful links:

Cancer Research UK -

Friday, 29 April 2011

Supporting local organic food and drink

This morning, I ventured to Dennistoun and visited the area's organic cafe. It is award winning and well known by fans of organic produce.

Photo of Tapa Organic Cafe on Whitehill Street.

I think it really important to develop local neigbourhood spaces where residents can buy organic produce.   This makes it easier to access fresh, organic items on a daily basis. As well as being able to choose organic coffee, a regular supply of organic milk and bread becomes more available.

It is essential that we develop a Scottish action plan for organic farming, in parallel with moves at an EU level. This would help to analyse bottlenecks and by including clear, measurable targets, help the expansion of organic farming. Also, there is a need to redirect research programmes in Scotland toward sustainable food production with a focus on organic and biodynamic systems.

Useful links:

Soil Association -
Scottish Organic Milk -
Tapa Organic -

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Speaking out against violence

I received an update via facebook about the fundraiser for the White Ribbon Campaign, at Nice n Sleazy, and went along to lend my support this evening.

It was a relaxing experience hearing new songs and supporting men in their work to tackle domestic violence.  The line up included talented singer Christine Bovill and up and coming musicians, Mercant.

There was an opportunity to get an update from the Scottish Campaign Coordinator and more people were signed up to support men's efforts to stop violence against women.

Useful links:

White Ribbon Scotland -
Christine Bovill -

Scotland's Future - No Tuition Fees, Affordable Housing

There was a lively discussion at the hustings organised by Glasgow University Union, this evening.

I highlighted the Greens' commitment to No Tuition Fees. Universities and colleges are part of what makes for a good society; they work best when education is free at the point of use and paid for collectively through taxation.  Access to higher and further education, whether part-time or fulltime, should be based on an individual’s ability to learn rather than their ability to pay.

Greens will oppose the UK Government’s decision to shift the cost of higher and further education away from general taxation and onto the individual. Education is not simply a personal investment in a higher income, and while graduates do on average earn higher salaries, the only way to ensure that they pay a fair contribution is through progressive income tax.

Photo of poem at entrance to Glasgow University's Library

We’ll commit to keeping education free at the point of use, and we’ll oppose tuition fees and additional graduate taxes. The Westminster cuts will mean a funding gap - Greens will raise revenue to fill it. We will place a priority on funding education and research, ending student poverty, and keeping student debt down.

Housing costs are a major concern for students and graduates. Scotland’s housing and regeneration budget has taken the biggest hit in public spending cuts, with a substantial reduction in real terms. This is indefensible, especially at a time when homelessness and poverty affect far too many communities across Scotland.

Greens believe we can overcome these problems and build healthier, more tolerant and creative communities for everyone in Scotland to enjoy. Scotland desperately needs more affordable homes.

Greens cannot stand back and watch people languishing on housing waiting lists, and see homelessness get worse, when upwards of £1.6bn is wasted on a second road bridge across the Firth of Forth.

We’ll reverse the cut to the housing budget and invest in social housing. We’ll keep those homes affordable and warm through our £100m a year universal national programme of home energy efficiency to cut household bills.

Scotland has an internationally acclaimed 2012 homelessness commitment that will soon be disgraced if we do not commit the resources and support required to honour this ambition. We’ll implement all parts of the 2003 Homelessness Act, and protect housing and homelessness services from unnecessary cuts.

We’ll further restrict the Right to Buy, ensuring that social housing remains available as social housing. We’ll bring more empty homes back into use, using a mixture of grants, loans and strengthened legal powers for councils and social landlords to take over management of properties owned by irresponsible landlords. We’ll enhance the regulation of private sector landlords by introducing management standards.

Photo of tenements in Hyndland.

We’ll support local authorities who use prudential borrowing for housing investment, with new building to be delivered by a range of social landlords including housing associations and co-operatives.

We’ll begin a programme of investment in flats and tenements, funded by small grants and equity release loans, with a view to supporting energy efficiency, microrenewables, community heating systems, improved waste & recycling facilities, and conversion of back-court spaces for social use and food production.

I really appreciated students waiting to have a chat at the end of the hustings. There were really positive discussions about Green MSPs and their achievements, potential for electric cars and closure partnership working between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and development of renewable energy or energy efficiency initiatives within University buildings.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Priorities for asthma care

In my post box, there is a copy of the manifesto for children and young people with asthma. It provides a list of priorities decided by children and young people themselves and sets out a way forward which includes:-
  • recognition and awareness of asthma
  • all schools to create and implement a policy to support us, backed by an awareness raising campaign
  • to implement a set of consistent standards for asthma services
  • to increase the number of school nurses
  • school inspections should measure the performance of schools in supporting and including children with health conditions

There is evidence that smoke and fumes that come from vehicle exhausts are harmful to health. 62% of people with Asthma say that traffic fumes make their Asthma worse. I recognise that there is a need to address concerns about asthma in schools but also,increased measures are required to combat deaths caused by vehicle pollution. We must make investment into the buses and the Subway to improve services and reduce fares. This is positive action to reduce our pollution levels, improve the health and well-being of our citizens. We must assist the development of health promotion activity to reduce hospital admissions for children with asthma. 

Useful links

Research on Smoking, Asthma and Quality of Life  -

Monday, 25 April 2011

Time for Peace

This evening, I attended a gathering of Stop The War Coalition to hear people's views and Scotland's role on the international stage was debated.

Greens remain utterly committed to opposing the renewal of Trident. Weapons of mass destruction have no legitimate place either in Scotland or in global politics.

As long as the UK Government continues to operate a nuclear weapons system in Scotland we’ll make use of every power available, including the criminal law, planning, and environmental controls on sources of risk such as transportation of warheads. I have taken part in various protests and rallies in support of peace at Faslane and Aldermaston. There is a peace movement which has engaged effectively with the Scottish Parliament and I support efforts to enable this to continue.

Greens are backing aid and Fair Trade. We’ll commit to an increase in Scotland’s international development budget, as well as establishing a climate adaptation fund of £9 million per year for communities in developing countries.

Our Green vision for Europe is be based on the principle of mutual co-operation and the European Union must serve the needs of people, not multinational corporations.

The European Union can also do more to support emerging democracies, including across North Africa and the Middle East, by offering preferential trade deals. We will also work towards the elimination of the arms export industry, starting with an end to export to dictatorships.

We’ll support moves to build a coalition of countries and regions willing to adopt a policy of boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions in relation to the Israeli Government to encourage an end to illegal settlements and negotiations on a final status for a Palestinian state.

Useful Links:

Caroline Lucas MP Statement on Libya -

Saturday, 23 April 2011

What about our City of Culture?

The Glasgow Arts and Culture scene is flourishing and a place where you can drop in, and keep a track of what is going on, is the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA).

The current exhibition by Jeremy Millar has been featured in various newspapers over the last month and today, it was great to finally get a chance to get close to the "Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows)".  The staff were very attentive and we discussed the impact of seeing what resembles a dead body lying on the gallery floor. It is very realisti and disturbing. I moved on to the four framed photographs entitled "A Firework for WG Sebald". Finally, I was absorbed by a HD video production called "The Writing of Stones". It is quite hypnotic as images are layered with choral music.

The CCA is developing its activities beyond exhibitions and in the foyer, there were crafts and books for sale. There is a lot of interesting and beautiful jewellery on offer.

Glancing through the information leaflets, I discovered that the British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet is going to be showing at CCA and two other venues from 27th May to 21st August. It is amazing to have opportunities like this on our doorstep.

Dance courses are being promoted across the city and I picked up a leaflet featuring the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama's programme at 100 Renfrew Street and the Speirs Lock Studios at 210 Garscube Road. It is a real boost to have new dance facilities available in the Maryhill area.

Access to artistic expression and cultural experiences are fundamental aspects of social wellbeing. Glasgow is known for its passionate support for music and the arts in general. It is a very important aspect of our city's future.  

There is an emphasis in the Scottish Green Party's policies to ensure that access to diverse, innovative artistic and cultural experiences should be protected and promoted.  I will be seeking to ensure that grant-receiving bodies adhere to national standards that protect the rights of artists.

In addition, there is a commitment to improve opportunities for local community broadcasting, and continue to press the UK Government for greater powers over broadcasting. Within the last year, I have given my support to efforts to secure independent film-making as part of  transferred activities passed from the Scottish Film Council to Creative Scotland.

We recognise the cultural benefits of supporting Scotland’s many languages, including British Sign Language, Scots, Gaelic and minority community languages, through their inclusion in education and multilingual public information.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

End Cruelty

Animal welfare has been highlighted by the League Against Cruel Sports. They are pushing for more progress in making cruelty to animals for sport a thing of the past. I take animal welfare seriously and support the develop of policies to reflect this:-

  • A ban on the sale, purchase and use of all snares;
  • A commitment to enforce current laws on wildlife crime and;
  • A Government inquiry into the increasing problem of dog fighting and badger baiting.

I am increasingly concerned about dog fighting and it is vital to raise awareness of cruelty towards dogs.

There is evidence of dogs being starved as part of the training to increase violent and aggressive behaviour. Dogs caught up in fighting can be left dying from wounds or are drowned.

There have to be further steps to enforce the law and stop fighting and baiting.

Useful links:
League Against Cruel Sports -

Public Sector Cuts and Women

We know that it is women who will be at the sharp end of the savage cuts to public sector funds. Women are campaigning against these cuts as they are the single biggest threat that we have seen to equality between men and women for a generation.

It is recognised that the progress made by Women to access adult education and lifelong learning is under attack and the route to decent, well-paid jobs will be far and few between, as these cuts will see the glass ceiling women have been trying to break turn to reinforced concrete.

The voices of women are urgently needed to challenge what is happening. Now, we are seeing women organise together, to make a stand and say they want their rights to be recognised. They want positive changes to be made to ensure that free education can be accessed by all and gender differences are taken into consideration, when making funding decisions.

At the UK level, I have supported efforts to preserve The Women’s National Commission, the only official, national body working on women’s equality but it ceased to exist as of December 2010. It is also apparent that the UK Government’s National VAW (Violence Against Women) Strategy for Women and Girls has been undermined and they are now proposing to leave the decision making on this issue to “The Big Society.”

In the  Scotland context, women are seeking to defend the gains made and continue to extend and maintain equal rights for women in education and employment. It is vital to support campaigning on equal pay, to stop violence against women, to continue to challenge sexism and ensure that women’s voices are heard.

At a hustings, hosted by the Women's Library, women activists and supporters of women’s rights gathered to quiz women candidates including myself on a variety of topics - how political parties promote women, prostitution, equality impact assessments, community based adult learning and access to support for people with mental health issues. 

I believe that the Scottish Green Party is a strong supporter of women, promoting gender equality within local communities and supporting gender balancing or the 50:50 campaign for political representation. 

Useful links:
Glasgow Women's Library -
Engender -
Fawcett Society -

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Vote for Sport

I have signed up for the Women's 10K in Glasgow on 8th May 2011. It's an annual event for hundreds of women who want to improve their health and raise much needed funds for charity. There is an amazing atmosphere along the route and the cheering from the crowd is a great motivator.

In my preparations for the run, I am going out jogging and cycling to local parks and walkways. It is a really good way to feel refreshed. Here's my T-shirt and number which arrived in the post yesterday.

The Scottish Sports Alliance has been in touch to promote the powerful force sport can play in improving health, inspiring education and increasing community cohesion.  I have given support to sport for the betterment of Scotland and signed up to the Pledge.

"I pledge to recognise the unique role, value and potential of sport in Scottish society and upon my election to the Scottish Parliament I will act as a Scottish Sporting Champion throughout my term in Parliament."

There is a significant contribution made to our sports activities by 12,000 sports clubs and 150,000 volunteers across Scotland. We need to recognise that our children deserve the right to play, that our older adults deserve the right to participate; and that this nation deserves an active future.

Useful Links

Scottish Sports Alliance

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Equal Lives?

Today, there was an informative debate with disabled people about the priorities for the next session of the Scottish Parliament. Disability Agenda Scotland provided an opportunity for candidates such as myself to answer questions from voters in the Touchbase Centre in Kinning Park.

I had visited previously to enjoy an arts performance and tour the amazing state of the art facilities. Details available at:

It was highlighted in information issued beforehand that 1 in 5 of the Scottish population is disabled – that’s 1 million people. Disabled people and carers have a significant influence on the outcome of the election. It is estimated that there will be a high turnout - up to 96% - as disabled people and carers were more likely than average to vote at the last Scottish elections.

The next Scottish Government has the power, and the responsibility, to pursue policies that underpin the rights of, and create more opportunities for, disabled people.

Greens will shift government support to sustainable finance initiatives such as credit unions and cooperatives; and increase support to the social entrepreneurs and voluntary sector recognising its social and environmental benefits. We will promote low cost basic banking which is available from mainstream banks and legislate for a universal right to a bank account.

In addition, we will introduce a Green Procurement Bill to support local economies, small businesses and social enterprises and to make Community Benefit clauses the norm in major public sector contracts.

We recognise the fundamental importance of a skilled workforce in the transformation to a sustainable economy. Employers and our educational institutions must work closer together to ensure Scotland’s workforce can meet its potential and support training and job creation for disabled people as we move to a post carbon economy.

We will ensure that skills agencies prioritise areas like renewable energy, low carbon industries, creative and cultural industries, waste management, manufacturing and the built environment so that we have the skilled workforce needed to deliver on the potential of these sectors. The expansion of apprenticeships has had wide support in Scotland, but we’ll build on that record to enable young disabled people to continue flexible learning alongside work if they wish.

A Charter for Disabled Citizens

Greens believe we can create a country where all can participate fully in society regardless of disability. We’ll work towards eliminating the barriers that prevent equality from progressing in Scotland.

The Scottish Green Party recognises that human rights are everyone’s rights. We’ll support the development of an action plan on human rights, and we’ll complement this with more coherent Parliamentary scrutiny of human rights issues. We welcome the proposal for A Charter for Disabled Citizens which outlines the rights disabled people have and what to do if these are not met.

As the debate ended, I met up with disabled people concerned about the restrictions on the use of a companion card and access to personal specialist equipment which appears to be a postcode lottery. I have to find out more about both issues. Several participants asked for copies of the manifesto on CD or in hard print which I will follow up with the Head Office in Edinburgh. 

Useful Links
Disability Agenda Scotland -

Monday, 18 April 2011

Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is for Us

Further to the letter from Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, I attended the Poverty Truth Commission Hustings on Monday 18 April. This took place two days after the Closing Gathering of the Poverty Truth Commission and provided the chance for candidates to respond to some of the key challenges from the Commission's findings. The experiences of people living with poverty at the Gathering highlighted the day to day struggles of family life. The emerging issues described were linked to Violence, Kinship Care and Stereotypes.

"Legal restrictions between carers are often unfair and restrict access to much needed support"

Through the powerful testimonials, I have become more aware of the massive contribution which kinship carers are making to the quality of the lives of children in their care. Governments, local authorities, health boards and Kinship carers have to work together to improve the quality of life for this highly vulnerable group of children and young people.

"People want to be proud of their communities"

It is clear from the frequent use of terms such as benefit cheats or scroungers to describe poor people, there is negative reporting of people from poorer neighbourhoods and this makes people feel hopeless and ashamed of where they live. The public need to challenge biased reporting and the media has to establish better links with community groups. I support the need for people with direct experience of poverty to be advisers to politicians and local media networks are needed to promote positive images.

Overcoming violence

I was interested to find that an Alternative to Violence working group has explored topics such as domestic violence, early intervention, gang culture and community disempowerment. We need to challenge local government and the police to move beyond processes of consultation and community engagement. 

There is an opportunity to make use of common good funds or neighbourhood budgets under community control and enable people to develop solutions to violence.

Green politicians have a commitment to work with people living in poverty to influence and shape anti-poverty policy. We believe it is vital to ensure that budgets are “poverty-proofed” so that financial decisions do not unfairly affect people living on low incomes.

Public bodies will be required to reduce the gap between rich and poor as a core aim of their policy and financial decision making. Monitoring is proposed for the delivery of a living wage policy and gender inequality in public sector pay, and to uprate the living wage for all public sector employees annually. We will also actively encourage living wage agreements in the private and voluntary sector, including through government procurement guidelines.

The Poverty Truth Commission is sponsored by the Church of Scotland Priority Areas and Faith in Community Scotland in cooperation with grass roots organisations throughout the country. Further information is available at:  

Useful Links:
Photo of staff from the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Church Votes -


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Recycling more materials

Glasgow is recycling about one fifth of all waste in 2011. There is a lot more to do to ensure that we are recycling and composting 50% by 2013, 60% by  2020 and 70% by 2025.  (These targets coverall Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and  help the Scottish Government deliver EU targets)

There are street recycling bins for glass, paper, cans, clothing and plastic bottles across all areas of Glasgow. Households are provided with a range of bins to recycle various items from grass cuttings, glass, paper, plastic bottles and cans.

Recycling centres take a wider range of items including cardboard and electrical equipment. For more information on recycling facilities in your area, link to

Scottish Greens are pledging to back communities across the regions fighting plans for a generation of mass-burn waste incinerators, and to scale-up support for local reuse and recycling initiatives. The Greens are the only party that consistently opposes these incinerators, and Greens are committed to revising the Scottish Government's waste strategy to bring in a moratorium on new facilities. The party argues that burning waste will significantly undermine recycling efforts by creating a built-in demand for waste.

The party will make the case in the next Parliament for a strategy that reduces overall levels of waste at source, conserving valuable resources and creating more jobs in community reuse and repair projects, as well as supporting the local provision of recycling facilities. 

Greens would also pilot a packaging 'deposit and return' scheme, which has resulted in very high recycling rates in countries such as Denmark and has long been pioneered with glass bottles by Barrs in Scotland.

No to Nuclear

The memories of the chernobyl nuclear power power plant disaster are recalled as the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima in Japan unfolds.

It is the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster on 26th April 2011. The radioactive fallout from a fire in a reactor drifted over large areas of the Soviet Union and Europe. Over 4,000 people died and 336,000 people had to be resettled.

This year, we can learn from what has happened at Fukushima. Concerns about risk of accidents at British nuclear power stations have increased due to their coastal locations which make them vulnerable to flooding, tidal surges, and extreme weather.

Now, in the interests of public safety, we should halt the development of new nuclear power stations and  stop the extension of the operating life of Scotland's existing plants. We must invest in ways of meeting our energy demand that don't risk disaster, waste money, cause pollution, add to radioactive waste and create more targets for terrorists.

The opportunities for sustainable, safe, reliable energy sources are here. Scotland could be self-sufficient in renewable electricity and lead the way for the rest of the world by 2020.

Useful Link

Celebrate Glasgow's Botanic Gardens

I visited the Orchid Fair in the Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens and enjoyed a walk around the stalls which featured an amazing array of orchids and cacti.

Just as I was about leave to get back out into the sunshine, I noticed an information desk with publications available and decided to have a closer look.

I picked up a brochure published by Plantlife, "The Ghost Orchid Declaration - Saving the UK's Wild Flowers today" which promotes protection of our plants and asks for everyone in the UK to take action to ensure that plant conservation reaches the top of the sustainable development agenda.

"One in five wild flowers in Great Britain today is at risk of extinction"

The rare Ghost Orchid is seen as a emblem of wild flowers that are threatened with extinction. It was thought to have died out but re-appeared after 23 years. It's return has been an amazing boost to the botanical community.

There are three key issues highlighted in the 24-page report. We must invest in plants as wild plants are poor relations of the wildlife world. Protection for plants is needed as evidence shows the network of protected sites are unable to conserve plants and fungi adequately. Working landscapes require to support wildlife. Currently, farmland and woodland landscapes are generally hostile to wild plants. Full details of the report can be found at:

I believe that cities such as Glasgow can made a significant difference to the protecting our wildlife. Educational activities and special events are very important to ensure that the general public get to know about wild plants. We need to encourage the next generation of wild flower enthusiasts and fungi experts. 

We must endeavour to help in conserving wildlife and restoring habitats.

I fully support the following statements:

1. Scotland's wildlife and landscape defines who we, the people of Scotland, are.

2. Investing in the conservation of our wildlife today secures a sustainable environment on which our cultural and economic future depends.

3. Conserving wildlife is an effective way to build Scotland's resilience to climate change.

4. Parliament should scrutinise the delivery of wildlife conservation to ensure its success.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Car Club Motors Forward

Greens have supported the development of a Car Club as part of measures to tackle air pollution in the City.
The City Car Club was launched in Glasgow in Autumn 2010. For details of how to become a member and access further information, go to:

I met up with Keith Stark, Manager of Glasgow's City Car Club on 22nd September 2010. He was promoting the membership of the Car Club on Car Free Day as part of the annual European Mobility Week. The general objective of this event is to promote more sustainable means of transport for European cities: walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing with the aim of reducing traffic congestion and creating a better quality of environment.

Save Otago Lane

A monstrous development is proposed for one of the best loved cobbled lanes in the city. Residents and local businesses based in and around Otago Lane face the prospect of flats up to seven storeys high being imposed on their lives. A revised planning application for 49 flats is pending for the site at 65-77 Otago Street.

At various protest meetings organised by the local community association in the last 6 months, objectors have vowed to stand firm and called on the planning committee to refuse permission. I have spoken out against the development as it breaches the City's Development Plan policies on lanes and backcourts. It would destroy greenspace, mature trees, damage wildlife corridor along the river and undermine the unique heritage of a conservation area.

To find out more, take a look at the weblink

Photos from the protest meeting on 5th March 2011 are available at:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

                                                                  Scottish Parliament Elections on May 5th 2011
                                                          Give Martha Your 2nd Vote