There’s a scene in Game of Thrones where Varys, the GOT equivalent of Sir Humphrey poses Tyrion Lannister a riddle. There is a king, a priest, a merchant and a soldier. The king, priest and merchant want the soldier to kill the other two. The king appeals to his loyalty, the priest to his religious duty and the merchant offers him gold. Which one does the soldier obey?
The answer to the riddle is that it depends on the soldier. Varys’ point is that although power can wielded through position (‘Power resides where men believe it resides’) that is not where power truly lies. Power truly lies with the soldier – the one who is willing to act.
Which brings us to the Greens. We’re tackling this subject because it’s something we’ve been continually asked about. Those arguing that people should vote Green on the list rather than ISP put forward two cases. 1) the most important issue facing Scotland and the world, is climate change. We need to take urgent action to avoid environmental disaster and being wiped out as a species. 2.) The Greens are an independence supporting party, so we don’t need another one.
It almost goes without saying that climate change and environmental issues are the most important issues facing us. There is no planet B, to coin a phrase and we are running out of time. We urgently need to convert from a fossil fuel based economy to a green one. That is going to require investment in things like carbon capture, green infrastructure, smarter use of land and the associated technologies. That in turn means it requires lots of money and investment from government to manage economies of scale. And it’s here that we have a uniquely Scottish problem. The Scottish Government doesn’t have those powers. Westminster has them.
All the powers we need to effect real green change, lie with Westminster. Under reserved powers are travel, trade and industry, power generation; all the major areas of concern for the climate. The oil and gas receipts go into UK coffers and get spent in London, not here. It would be such an obvious policy to use those receipts to invest in a change of infrastructure and move towards a fully functioning green economy, but we can’t do it. We can’t get our own money and we can’t even borrow it from elsewhere, without Westminster’s say so.
The logical progression from that is that if you are Scottish and green, then your first priority has to be Scottish independence. It can’t be one policy amongst many. It has to be your most immediate and urgent concern. All the rest is talk. And this leads directly on to the question; what are the Greens doing to push forward independence just now? And what could they potentially do?
We’re not going to answer the first question for you. That is the question that we want you to ask the Greens. But we will deal with the second question. What could the Greens potentially be doing just now to push independence?
The Greens have six MSPs in Holyrood. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. Let’s start with their salaries. £64K per head. A proportion of that will be paid into their party coffers as a levy. Then there’s the Member’s Support Allowance, that covers office and constituency expenses. So they have money and staff worth a total of £124K x 6 = £744K.
Even better, is the fact that the Greens actually hold the balance of power in Holyrood. They are not simply a small party overshadowed by the big guns. They are in a position to deal and act as honest broker. And they can hurt the bigger parties should they wish to do so.
Let’s run a couple of scenarios. Let’s start with Action on Section 30. Supposing for a minute that instead of Martin Keatings bringing this action, it had been the Greens. How do you think the SNP would have reacted to that? Do you think that they would have been able politically to sit on the sidelines, politely asking Boris now and again if he was going to give Scotland their baw back? Can you imagine the political capital that the Greens could have made out of a situation where the Scottish Government was listed as a respondent in the case? Can you imagine the uproar and stooshie that they could have created with it? They could have had their cake and eaten it. They could have pushed forward the situation and gained more votes for themselves in the process. So why was it Martin Keatings instead?
Or how about producing a draft referendum bill? This would be a bit trickier, because eighteen MSPs have to sign it. But it would be very difficult for the SNP to stay aloof from a bill like that and be out – independenced on independence.
Or how about calling for the May election to be a plebiscite on Scottish independence? That’s still open as well. It’s maybe the last chance that we will get to have an internationally recognised democratic event representing the wishes of the Scottish people.
Now as we said earlier on, we’re not going to answer the whys of what the Greens are doing or what they’re not. We’ll just reiterate two points.
The only route that Scotland can take towards a genuinely effective green revolution is through Scotland regaining her sovereign powers as an independent nation. Everything else is talk.
To come back to Varys, power doesn’t lie with position. We have a majority of nominally independence supporting MSPs in Holyrood; 67 in all. It could be 670, but the end result will still be the same if they don’t actually start to push on independence. And if they don’t, the canny voter has to work out how to make them move. And the one thing that will make any party move is the threat of having their position taken away from them.
The Greens could have been a force for progress on Scottish independence. They have a vested interest re their policy position on green issues to be the catalyst in the engine of the Yes movement. They still could be; they’ve got four months left. After that, it all boils down to one question.
Of all the parties that you wish to vote for; which is the one that is actually willing to act?