Saturday, 30 April 2016

Pushing for gender equality

I have been on a panel at three hustings for the Scottish Parliament's Elections 2016 which have involved a women only audience. Women-only hustings can help to involve women in political discussions, building their skills and confidence to join in debates and ask questions of candidates. I have found that women-only events assist in building a supportive community of women interested in politics. For women with experience of domestic abuse or hate crimes, women-only hustings can provide a safe space to raise their concerns.

When speaking about Scottish Green Party policies, I have highlighted key priorities that aim to demonstrate real commitment to tackling both gender and wealth inequality in Scotland, as the two are closely linked.

Scottish Greens support the introduction of a Gender Equality Bill. Gender inequality is deeply entrenched in Scotland’s economy, politics and culture. There has been some progress, but diverse groups of women, including disabled women, refugee women, unpaid carers, older women and lone parents still experience discrimination, poverty and insecurity. A Gender Equality Bill would help to drive progress for women’s equality.

We recognise the damage wealth inequality is having on Scotland's people and communities. The tax proposals from the Scottish Greens are put forward to both raise revenue and reduce the wealth gap between the richest and poorest in society.  This involves a higher rate of tax of 60p in every pound for those earning over £150,00. Those earning less than £26,500, which is more likely to be women, pay less. Those who can afford it, like our MSPs, will pay a bit more in the pound to protect and invest in the public services we all care about and use every day. 

There is also a commitment to improve the lives of women through valuing paid and unpaid care work - traditional women’s work that is often unpaid, always underpaid and under valued. Care work is essential for our society and economy. Better conditions are needed for both professional care workers and unpaid carers attending to family and friends. We must seek wider recognition of Scotland’s carers and push for increased financial and practical support.

Social care workers do hard and vital work in people’s homes, care homes and every community. They are employed in one of the lowest paid sectors, which fuels the gender pay gap. To bring about the much needed change, all care and support workers should be paid significantly above the Living Wage. Scottish Greens are proposing a living wage plus of £9 an hour minimum wage for people who are employed as social care staff. Not only will this improve the lives of people in the care sector, it will also help to improve the quality of care provided to people.

We are also pushing for a 50% increase in carers allowance to improve the lives of unpaid Carers, again often women. We need a better deal for carers. Power to increase Carers Allowance will soon be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Greens are campaigning for a 50% increase in payments to £93.15 per week.

Also, there is a commitment to create a new ‘Women in the Media’ watchdog to tackle sexism and stereotyping of women and girls. The new body is needed to stop the profoundly negative impact of how females are portrayed in the media.

A better Scotland, and a better Scotland for women, needs a bolder Holyrood.

Useful link:

Scotland Can Achieve Gender Equality - 

Support Nursing Scotland's Future

The Royal College of Nursing Scotland's campaign's manifesto Professional voices: practical solutions, sets out key demands. I have given my support to the issues raised in this manifesto:-
  • decisions are made to shape health and care for generations to come, rather than focusing on short-term goals
  • a Scottish Government-led workforce and skills impact assessment is carried out each time a new health or social care policy is proposed
  • digital technologies are used to open up new, smarter ways of working for health care teams, especially those operating in the community
  • the pivotal role of senior charge nurses in leading safe, effective, patient-centred care is recognised, respected and properly remunerated
  • Scotland’s politicians champion better pay, terms and conditions for members of nursing teams, no matter their grade or where they work
Further information about the campaign at:

Life is better with trees

I am supporting calls for use of trees as a policy resource for tackling a range of public concerns including improving air quality and reducing flood risk. We can support the following initiatives:-
- Promote natural flood resistance
There is a need to support the planning system so it works for people and nature. And we shouldn’t stop at protecting our existing green spaces. A stronger, more accountable planning system, with local people at its heart, can deliver housing in the right places, whilst creating and connecting new wildlife sites, woodlands, wetlands and other green spaces. This, in turn, will help provide natural flood defences, to help cope with our changing climate.
- Support strategic deer management
We must protect and restore important habitats in order to foster effective deer management, good water quality, and species reintroduction. Support can be given for the sustainable management of wild deer populations.
- Take action for tree health
The good management of existing woods, orchards and hedges should be encouraged. Developing maintenance of species diversity and the vigorous protection of wild habitats should be prioritised. There is a need to support restrictions in the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers, and promote research into the biological control of pests.
- Restore damaged woodland
Farmers and landowners should be encouraged to restore woodland and increase tree cover generally. Support is needed for appropriate tree planting or woodland creation from natural regeneration on agricultural and non-agricultural land, including fruit and nut orchards, copses, hedgerows, small farm woods and shade and windbreak trees.
- Expand our woodland
Substantially expanding wooded areas can capture carbon, increase the local energy supply, improve biodiversity, provide wood products for buildings and infrastructure, improve flood management and provide more natural spaces for everybody to enjoy.
Scotland has a low percentage of woodland cover compared with other countries in Europe; only 17% compared to the EU average of 37%. Also, relatively little new forest has been planted over recent decades, and the majority of British conifer forests are due for felling in the next 10-20 years.
Any significant increase in woodland will require careful management and siting to balance land-use needs and to maximise economic, social and environmental benefits. The expansion of woodland should run alongside a significant expansion of the existing Peatland Action Restoration Programme.
- Protect Scotland's most precious woods and trees
Educational policies and information campaigns can increase the protection and promotion of our woods and trees, particularly to our young people and those involved in local enterprise. We can encourage more use of private woodlands and further support the development of community woodlands. Efforts to bring about wider public recognition that woodlands and forests offer important environments for education, recreation, health, and celebration should be supported.

Cherry Blossom in Dowanhill.

Fox hunting in Scotland

I have seen the video evidence that the League Against Cruel Sports is submitting to the official Government review of the fox hunting ban in Scotland. You can view the video yourself here >>

There are calls for the next Scottish Parliament to strengthen the existing legislation to ensure that packs of hounds are no longer encouraged to chase and kill wild mammals across the countryside. I have given my support to the strengthening of the hunting ban in Scotland.

Standing up for nature

During the Scottish Parliament's Election Campaign, I have received numerous emails from people highlighting their concern for nature conservation and the environment. They ask for endorsement of a campaign for nature led by a red squirrel named Bob.

I have given by backing to Bob and support his calls for a Food and Farming and Health Bill; the creation of an Environmental Court; for all children to have access to nature and the outdoors; and to ensure Scotland's ongoing commitment to nature. I am supporting the need for the next Scottish Government to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 42% by the year 2020 via the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Also, we need to protect and restore biodiversity on land and at seas and to support healthier ecosystems via the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy, and enforce penalties for wildlife crime.

Useful links: 

Scottish Green Party's Manifesto 2016: Scotland Can Be An Environmental Leader -

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Support for independent music shops

On Saturday, 16th April, I supported "Record Store Day" by attending activities taking place at local independent music shops.

LP Records flyer and shopfront on Park Road.

I visited the music shop, LP Records, on Park Road, in Woodlands. There was also an event at the Oxfam Music Shop on Byres Road. These music shops are committed to independent record labels and promotion of local musical talents. They are a vital part of our local high streets.

Byres Road's Oxfam Music Shop

Second hand records bought at Oxfam Music.

Information about Record Store Day is available at:

Sunday, 10 April 2016

We Walk, We Cycle.

This week, I have provided my support for active travel and backed the call for the following:-
  • Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of Scotland's transport budget
  • Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle
  • Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling
An allocation of 10% of the total transport budget would improve existing routes and making them safer. This level of funding would bring Scotland more into line with other northern European countries, where there are more trips made on foot or by bike and also, help to reduce air pollution. The promotion of safety on our roads is vital to encouraging more people to cycle. We can give every child in Scotland the opportunity to undertake on-road cycle training and work with cycling groups to do this.

On the 23rd of April, cyclists will be gathering in Edinburgh to call for investment in active travel. 

Maintenance of Kelvingrove Park

In the last few weeks, I have visited Kelvingrove Park to find out about the repairs and maintenance work undertaken along the riverbank. 

Between the Tom Honeyman Garden and the Sunlight Cottages, there has been tarmac resurfacing of the footpath and repairs to the fencing. This is welcomed as part of the ongoing investment in the park.

View of Tom Honeyman Memorial Garden

Fencing and footpath improvements.

On some parts of the riverbank, opposite the Art Gallery and Museum, trees and shrubs have been cut back to expose the soil. Further enquiries are being made about this work and its impact.

Glasgow Climate Festival

Yesterday, I attended the community event in George Square which celebrated the work of Climate Challenge Funded projects from Glasgow and Clyde Valley. 

Poster for the Climate Festival.

Several community projects based in Hillhead have received funding to help local communities to reduce their carbon footprint. I was impressed to hear about the work of CEMVO Scotland in supporting Ethnic Minority groups to apply for the fund and implement a project. 
My pledge to plant a tree this year.

I understand that this is the first year of this joint celebration event for Climate Challenge Funded projects. Hopefully, the projects involved will continue to meet up and plan to have annual gathering to bring diverse Scottish communities together.