Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Our Future Free from Racism
Last year I wrote in support of the St Andrew's day March and Rally, looking ahead to a landmark year for Scotland and for Glasgow in particular.
Both the independence referendum and the Commonwealth Games were rare opportunities for Scotland to present its values and its hopes for the future to the wider world.
Now, as Scotland’s year in the international spotlight draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on what lessons we can take from these events, and how we work towards a Scotland free from racism.
The Games were first and foremost a spectacle of sport, with the efforts and talent of the athletes front and centre. But it also offered us the chance to show ourselves as a welcoming and inclusive nation that we are and I was particularly proud of the Pride House initiative, building links with human rights activists across the Commonwealth.
The referendum campaign opened up public debate in Scotland like nothing seen before, and people really have been exploring what kind of country they want to live in. Underpinning this were questions about what it meant to be Scottish, and I think it is a testament to everyone involved that this was overwhelmingly framed in a positive and inclusive way, not along narrow lines of ethnicity or place of birth.
Though it has been such an extraordinary year, we should not be complacent about the direction of politics. Scotland is far from free of racism, and we must address the big challenges we face. The xenophobic UKIP have just elected their first MP, following their win in this year’s European elections. The rise of right wing and extremist parties across Europe and closer to home is something that we have a responsibility to take on, and Greens will never let UKIP’s ugly brand of politics go un-challenged.
Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party