Harvie: Council elections are a choice between "starving them of funds" and investing in communities

Harvie focused on forthcoming council elections as he addressed the faithful at the party’s spring conference 

THE SCOTTISH GREEN’S co-convener, Patrick Harvie, has said that “council services matter”, with the forthcoming council elections a vital choice between “starving them of funds, selling them off”, or “investing in them to make all our communities better.”

Harvie, in a speech to the Scottish Green party conference in Glasgow today (Saturday 11 March), lambasted the Scottish Tories for turning the upcoming May’s election into a debate about Scottish independence.

He went on to say that that discussion about Scottish Independence will come in due course because of the Tory party’s drive towards a hard Brexit.

Patrick Harvie told the conference: “It’s the Tories’ reckless Hard Brexit agenda which is pushing Scotland toward making its choice; but the time for that debate will come; for now our focus is clear - our councils and the services they deliver matter to people; don’t let the Tory constitutional obsession give them a chance to take hold of your local services – these are the people who would privatise the lot.

“It’s the Tories’ reckless Hard Brexit agenda which is pushing Scotland toward making its choice, but the time for that debate will come.” Patrick Harvie

“Our call, for investment in our local services, for the building of strong local economies, and for a renewed local democracy that puts power in people’s hands – this represents a warning to the SNP too – they too need to recognise that our Councils matter, our public services matter; it took Greens to force them to reverse huge cuts to council budgets, and it will still take Greens to make a case for the strong, democratic local government Scotland needs.”

Harvie also made the comparison between the welcome from Green euro MP Molly Scott Cato with the welcome that London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, made to the Scottish Labour party conference a couple of weeks ago about the racist nationalism associated with both the pro-independence movement and the Brexit movement.

Scott Cato told the Scottish Green party conference that once you fight through the xenophobia and confusion of the immigration debate that “the simple fact remains: migrants have always contributed more to society than what they have taken from it.”

Scott Cato added: “It is precisely why Brexit minister David Davis has hinted strongly that EU migration will stay the same level after we are leaving the EU.

“It is precisely why Brexit minister David Davis has hinted strongly that EU migration will stay the same level after we are leaving the EU. Prompting the obvious question, why we are leaving the EU?” Molly Scott Catto

“Prompting the obvious question, why we are leaving the EU?”

Sadiq Khan had to retract from his comment he made in the Daily Record on the eve of his speech to Scottish Labour party conference where he wrote that there is no real difference between voting for an independent Scotland and “trying to divide us on the basis of background, race or religion.”

His comments infuriated the Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon by saying that “It is an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion and social justice.”

By the time he spoke to delegates in Perth, he had to retract by saying “of course I'm not saying that nationalists are somehow racists or bigoted.”

Harvie said: “We’re here for those voters, and getting far more done than Labour. It’s depressing what they have been reduced to – and how determined they are to miss the opportunities that a parliament of minorities can offer. I believe that the responsibility of any party is to work to make people’s lives better in the real world, instead of just posturing inside the political bubble. That means putting forward bold and positive new ideas – challenging government, but also trying to make progress where common ground exists.”

“I believe that the responsibility of any party is to work to make people’s lives better in the real world, instead of just posturing inside the political bubble. That means putting forward bold and positive new ideas – challenging government, but also trying to make progress where common ground exists.” Patrick Harvie

Harvie added: “Then we heard Theresa May expressing what really deserves to be called “divisive nationalism”; this is the PM who’s turned a narrow margin for Brexit into an excuse to remove our rights to move freely in the EU, and to treat the lives of our friends, neighbours and colleagues as bargaining chips – now accusing others of stoking constitutional grievance.

“This is the UK government which has persistently refused to engage with Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, whether we’re standing up for people being abused in an inhumane immigration system, seeking to protect job centres and other public services, or even trying to question her ministers in Parliament about their reckless Brexit agenda.”

Picture courtsey of David Thomson

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