I gave this speech to Radical Independence Edinburgh branch ahead of the European election in May 2014.
This year is about all of us deciding what kind of Scotland we want to live in, what kind of Scotland we want to build and the message we want to send to the rest of the world. In that respect, I think there’s a clear and important connection between the European election and the referendum.
Don’t get me wrong, I know European elections don’t always ignite the flames of passion in most people – not even in hardened campaigners like all of you. But this one is important, and I’ll tell you why.
Every European election has a story – in 2009 it was the elections scandal, in 2004 it was Kilroy. In 2014 it’s UKIP, whether we like it or not. The whole UK media is intent on giving Farage and his fruitcakes as much airtime as they want. This is a UKIP election. So of course the story here, if we allow them in, is that Scotland’s not that different – we elect racists and homophobes just like England so what’s all this independence nonsense we keep banging on about? We can’t afford that. Not now, not ever, and especially not when we’re trying to build a new nation.
This year we have the chance to elect not only Scotland’s first Green MEP, but a woman who shares our beliefs and who will fight for a just and welcoming Scotland.
And I think the campaign we’re running fits really well with a lot of what RIC is campaigning on this year. We have three main pillars to our campaign –
- a just economy where public services are in public hands and where we attack poverty, not the poor;
- a welcoming Scotland which is grateful for the people who come to Scotland and choose to make it their home and doesn’t blame them for the troubles caused by elites;
- and for a nation of peace which rejects Cold War relics like NATO, stands against the militarisation of Europe and gets rid of trident – not just by shifting it somewhere else but by disarming it for good.
Who wins sends a message about what kind of country we want. By electing Maggie Chapman as our MEP, we are choosing a just economy, where we attack poverty, not the poor, and defend our public services from the relentless drive to privatise. We are choosing a welcoming Scotland, where people who want to be part of building our nation are treated as comrades, not criminals. We are choosing a nation of peace, not the NATO nuclear alliance.
All of that is the starkest possible contrast with the vile rhetoric peddled by UKIP..
We stand a real chance, for the first time, of electing a socialist, feminist, pro-immigration, pro-independence candidate who stands for everything that this campaign believes. We have a chance to set the tone for the whole summer and beyond. Let me be clear – if there’s no change at this election, then we’re sending a signal that we don’t really need change as a nation.
So I hope you’ll vote Green next Thursday. And if I can make a cheeky plea, I hope you’ll keep helping us to get out the vote and reach even more people.