Green MSP urges women to vote Yes


Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party’s campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, is urging undecided women voters to seize the opportunity to create a more equal society.

The latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey reports ten per cent fewer women than men say they are sure what independence would bring.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says that the austerity agenda of the UK is particularly harmful to women and that a fully-fledged Scottish Parliament would show a better way forward.

Green Yes points to the severe impact on women from Westminster’s choices:

– Cuts to benefits and services disproportionately harm women, and within that disproportionately harm black and minority ethnic women, disabled women, migrant women and women in positions of social marginalisation.
– The Bedroom Tax cut funds to families due to a lack of single-bed or smaller properties.
– The Trussell Trust says the number of people who used its food banks in Scotland over the past year rose to 71,428, including 22,000 children – a 400 per cent increase.
– Job losses in the public sector, where women make up the majority of employees on the front line.
– Changes to working tax credits and cuts in benefits mean lone parents have lost out relative to other household types and 92 per cent of lone parents are female.
– The introduction of fees for employment tribunals has resulted in an 80 per cent drop in the number of cases. The TUC have said women have been among the biggest losers, and sex discrimination cases are down.
– Women earn 13 per cent less than men in full-time jobs, and almost 34 per cent less in part-time jobs. Equal pay laws are controlled by Westminster. None of the parties campaigning for a No vote is offering to devolve employment law.
– ONS figures show that women’s wages have fallen 3.2 per cent in the past year compared to 1.6 for men.
– The Fawcett Society describes the UK government’s jobs plan as low-wage and insecure, with 60 per cent of all jobs since 2010 going to men. In that time women’s unemployment has risen by twelve per cent to a 25-year-high of over one million, while men’s unemployment has fallen by seven per cent.

By contrast Green Yes has proposed ideas for a fully-fledged Scottish Parliament to adopt, including:

– An end to austerity.
– A Citizen’s Income to replace most benefits, making most households better off and benefiting those in the lowest income bracket the most.
– A Citizen’s Income would help women combine working and caring.
– Creating economic revival by focusing on small business growth.
– A single regulator for start-up and micro businesses, to encourage female entrepreneurs.
– Childcare that is flexible and fits with the needs of parents who work or study part-time.
– Raise the minimum wage to a decent living wage for all.
– Investment in research, development and innovation to create new businesses and new jobs in sustainable energy, chemical and life sciences, food production, tourism and the digital sector.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, said:

“The opportunity we have on 18 September is to create a more equal society. The austerity agenda of the UK, which will continue whoever’s in Downing Street, is particularly harmful to women. I strongly believe a fully-fledged Scottish Parliament would take a different approach and show a better way forward.

“The male-dominated macho-style TV and newspaper coverage of this important debate has so far left many women unimpressed. But out in our communities, in public meetings and on doorsteps, there are amazing conversations happening between women, exploring the opportunities of independence.

“Of course women are right to be cautious because there are uncertainties but I feel it’s a bigger risk to leave Westminster in charge. The one big certainty is that by taking responsibility we’d focus on what really matters, like social security, balancing work with caring, and creating new jobs instead of renewing nuclear weapons and propping up the House of Lords.

“A chance like the one we have on 18 September is unlikely to come our way again, so let’s grab it and make it work.”