The last month has been a historic and exciting one for our party, and the wider environmental movement. Since my last update members have overwhelmingly voted to support the cooperation agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government. That vote will ensure that Green MSPs are at the heart of government and that we are able to turn large parts of our manifesto into reality.
Following the vote, I was appointed as Scotland’s first ever Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity while my colleague and co-leader Patrick Harvie was appointed Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights.
It is the first time that Green politicians have been in government in any part of the UK, and we will use it to make a difference to people’s lives. The changes that we are agreeing today could have a major impact for years to come.
The last month has involved dozens of meetings for Patrick and I, with lots of new faces to meet and processes to learn. It has been very busy, and a big change. I now have two offices, one which is my Green MSP office and one which is my Ministerial office. Both have different staff teams. For local issues it is best to contact my parliamentary email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The return to parliament saw the publication of the first year’s programme for government. This included a commitment to publish a strategy for the private rented sector by the end of the year, including better rights for tenants and the introduction of rent controls. It also included steps to tackle fuel poverty, with a £1.8 billion investment in warmer homes as well as a commitment to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
One platform that I am using is my weekly column in the Edinburgh Evening News, which is used to highlight issues that are particularly relevant to Edinburgh. I have recently started a new monthly column with the Midlothian View website and am intending to organise meetings with local journalists from these titles and others once my Ministerial timetable is clearer and when restrictions allow us to do so.
My parliamentary team recently welcomed our new casework officer. They have been working on constituency issues on my behalf and has done a great job. We have had our first coordinated meeting with our councillor team. These will become regular meetings and will allow us to coordinate responses and actions together and allow my team to benefit from the great knowledge and experience of our councillors.
I want to thank all of you for your support. We did not become a party of government overnight, it is due to the countless hours that activists have put into the party over the last 30 years. My colleagues and I will do everything that we can to ensure that it was the right choice for our party, our climate and for Scotland.