John’s speech on hate crimes against Polish migrants

2015-10-04-jf-speaking-hate-crimes-against-polish-migrantsJohn Finnie spoke in the Scottish Parliament debate on hate crimes against Polish immigrants on Tuesday 5 October, challenging the rising tide of xenophobic rhetoric and making it clear that Poles – and immigrants from all over the world – are welcome in Scotland.

To watch John’s speech on the Scottish Parliament website, click here.

I congratulate Kenny Gibson on bringing this highly pertinent debate to the Parliament.

“Hate crime” is an ugly term, but it graphically describes what I think that Kenny Gibson called acting out “dangerous and prejudicial views”. There must be—and I am delighted that there is—unanimity in the Parliament about how we address it.

I will not rehearse all the historical references, which are well established and have been mentioned by other members. The references to the second world war resonated with me, because of the affection that my father and his brothers had for the Polish people who joined in the fight against fascism. We know that 16,000 families settled in the UK at the end of the war, who contributed greatly to our country. Who were those people? They were the parents of classmates, and they were joined—certainly where I am from, in Lochaber—by many people from the Baltic states.

There has been recent migration to Scotland and the UK, and some 7 per cent of Scotland’s population was born outwith the UK. It is pertinent that Poland became a member of the EU in May 2004 and it is estimated that 44,000 Polish people migrated to the UK each year between 2004 and 2012. As members said, Polish people constitute the largest group of residents of Scotland who were born outwith the UK.

Anne White, professor of Polish studies at University College London, has written about the pattern of Polish migration to the UK. It is interesting that it tends to be young families who migrate, rather than young single migrants, who return to Poland after several years. Many parents move to the UK for a year or two before they bring their children over, and many Polish migrants start their own businesses after a few years. Anne White has written:

“this is a generation of Poles at home in the UK.”

There are certainly a great number who are at home in the Highlands and Islands, and long may that be the case.

Members talked about EU migrants’ contribution to the UK economy. Figures that I have for 2000 to 2011 suggest that the contribution was £20 billion. EU migrants are 43 per cent less likely to be in receipt of benefits and 7 per cent less likely to live in social housing than UK-born people. As members said, they are also likely to be more highly educated.

There are some disturbing figures. In a poll in 2015, in advance of the referendum, 23 per cent of Polish respondents said that they had experienced discrimination, and 23 per cent of those people felt that that had happened on more than one occasion—of course, discrimination will be underreported, given people’s fear of retaliation and victimisation in the workplace. There is also the fees issue, which prevents people from taking up employment cases.

Kenny Gibson talked about poisonous reporting, and the motion refers to “irresponsible and shameful reporting”. I take issue with my Conservative colleague in that regard: I do not think that such reporting was just on the fringes, and I would ask to what end it was being used. We have all seen collages made up of lurid headlines from the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. I do not doubt for a second that those headlines passed some legal test, but they did not pass the moral test and they certainly caused me great offence. The EU certainly does not offend Mr Dacre, the owner of the Daily Mail sufficiently to stop him claiming a quarter of a million pounds in EU funds for his sporting estates here.

The EU referendum was characterised by lies, distortions and threats. Racism needs to be challenged at all times, including—as we have heard about—the graffiti and the stickers that have gone up. We need to be cautious not to be complacent in Scotland—the far right is on the rise across Europe and Scotland is no different. As many previous speakers have said, I stand in solidarity with Polish people. In fact, I stand in solidarity with all people and I say to them, “Fàilte a h-uile duine”. You are all very welcome.

On one partisan point, the Green Party European campaign had the tag line of a just and welcoming Scotland, which I am sure that everyone would subscribe to. I add to that tag line: a safe and secure Scotland for our Polish residents.

John’s Speech on New Psychoactive Substances

Yesterday (29th September 2015) John spoke in the Scottish Government’s debate on New Psychoactive Substances. John spoke highlighting his role as the Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Drugs and as a member of the Scottish Government convened New Psychoactive Substances Cross Party Working Group, which includes the Scottish Government, Police, health experts, legal experts and politicians.

Prior to the debate John, on behalf of the Green/Independent Group, attempted to amend the Scottish Government’s debate motion. Unfortunately John’s amendment was not selected. However you can read John’s amendment and the Scottish Government’s motion below:

*S4M-14403 Paul Wheelhouse: Progress on Implementing Recommendations of the Expert Review Group in New Psychoactive Substances—That the Parliament welcomes the progress being made to respond to the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) Expert Review Group report recommendations, published on 26 February 2015, including work to bring NPS under legal control; notes that the UK Government published the Psychoactive Substances Bill on 29 May 2015, which the Scottish Government supports, and further notes that this work includes engagement with the sector on information sharing and a common definition, including on the development of forensic capacity, and production of guidance that will be a vital tool for trading standards staff on the frontline, given the serious impact that these substances are having in communities, sometimes with fatal consequences, and the challenges faced by drug treatment and health services and enforcement agencies.

Supported by: Michael Matheson*

*S4M-14403.3 John Finnie: Progress on Implementing Recommendations of the Expert Review Group in New Psychoactive Substances—As an amendment to motion S4M-14403 in the name of Paul Wheelhouse (Progress on Implementing Recommendations of the Expert Review Group in New Psychoactive Substances), insert at end ―, and recognises that, while there can be a role for enforcement, harm reduction is best achieved by education, which allows for informed choices‖.

 

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind):

I have very much enjoyed the debate and I thank the minister for bringing it to the chamber and for opening it. I wonder what the purpose of the debate is. Is it to highlight to the public a problem that they are aware of? Is it to talk up a problem? Is it to address concerns that are widely held? Is it to contribute to harm reduction?

The motion talks about progress, which of course we all welcome, as it is important. Like a number of colleagues, I am pleased to be part of the ministerial cross-party group that is looking at NPS. No harm ever comes from discussing things and I think that we have had a lot of informed discussion thus far.

The motion talks about: “engagement with the sector on information sharing”.

I am grateful to the minister for taking my intervention on education, which is key to this. I do not want to give the impression that my view that there is an overemphasis on enforcement is the result of anything other than my understanding of how we will best get over the message that people need to make informed decisions. For instance, the motion talks about the “serious impact” of the substances. Is it a serious impact? Serious compared with what? There are other comparators, and alcohol is the most obvious one. We have heard about tragic events in A and E, but those events were relatively rare, whereas we know that the use of alcohol and the mayhem that that creates in the streets of our towns and villages, in dwelling houses and in A and E have been an on-going problem.

Like others, I very much enjoyed Dr Richard Simpson’s speech, which was very informed. He talked about human nature and what it causes us to do. He talked about new approaches and about the role of social media. Importantly, he said that people will continue to use. That is the reality.

At the risk of offending my former colleague in another sphere, Mr Pearson, we could argue that drug enforcement has not led to a positive outcome in terms of cost benefit analysis. If the idea was that all that effort would reduce the availability of drugs, that has not been the case. Of course, this is outwith the realm—in some respects—of the enforcement that has taken place.

Graeme Pearson:

I cannot let that remark go unchallenged. My colleague should consider that, in other realms of drug abuse, the so-called tenner bag that is recognised across Scotland had at one time a purity level of more than 40 per cent and now is lucky if it can achieve 10 per cent purity levels, because the supply of drugs into the country has been choked.

It is not simply a matter of enforcement; it is the proper use of all the tactics that are available to us that gives the opportunity for communities to respond better than might otherwise be the case. I am grateful to my colleague for allowing me the time to say that.

John Finnie:

Mr Pearson makes an important point, which is that enforcement has a role as part of the whole. I would like the emphasis to be on education.

The Scottish Drugs Forum welcomed the Home Office review and said:

“One of the key issues limiting a Scottish response to NPS is the unknown prevalence of such substances, with much of the data coming from anecdotal information.”

That largely remains the case. As we heard from the expert from A and E, a considerable amount of guesswork goes on.

I will quote something else that the SDF said about the review. Its director, David Liddell, said:

“It is crucial that the review does not solely focus on supply, but also looks at why people are using these new substances and the impact they have on individuals.”

It is important that we do that.

We know that the review considered the internet and of course the internet is there. It can be beneficial, although many people talk it down, but it provides many of the challenges that we have.

The Queen’s speech talked about the new bill creating an offence in regard to

“any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect.”

We have had a lot of discussion about that, because that may sound definitive, but it is far from clear.

I commend one aspect of the bill, which is its inclusion of provisions for civil sanctions such as prohibition notices and premises notices, two breaches of which will be a criminal offence. Their aim is to enable the police and local authorities to adopt a graded response to supply. It is important that a proportionate response is taken.

In the minister’s letter of June this year, he said that NPS

“are therefore potentially every bit as dangerous as illicit drugs”—

no one would argue with that—

“and have been implicated in a small, but growing number of deaths.”

We heard from Mr Pearson about polydrug use. We should look at the statistics, because I do not want people to blow things completely out of proportion. Alcohol is present in the vast majority of drug-related deaths.

The minister talked about Crew 2000, which has been on the go since 1992 and was formed in response to the rapid expansion of recreational drug use.

Kevin Stewart talked about language, which is important. I understand the frustration at the use of the term “legal highs”. We have in the chamber discussed a similarly sensitive matter: female genital mutilation. The connection is that, to a lot of people, including the victims, the term “female genital mutilation” means nothing. It is right that we should not infer that “legal” means “safe”—I do not infer that anyway; it is legal to climb mountains, but it is not always safe to do so. However, it is important that we communicate with people at the level that they understand. The minister talked about peers, and I say with the greatest respect to my colleagues that people will listen not to us but to the Scottish Youth Parliament and the fine folk at the Scottish Drugs Forum and Crew 2000.

Crew 2000 says that it is underresourced and underfunded, as we have heard from Sarah Boyack and others. It also says:

“Better education is essential so citizens are well informed and can assess risk. The information provided by Government has been minimal, leaving those who take NPS to guess for themselves.”

I have seen that phrase elsewhere. If we are going to say, “Don’t do it,” maybe we need to say why people should not do it.

Crew 2000 says:

“The least harmful substances, such as nitrous oxide, should be exempt.”

I did not know what nitrous oxide was; apparently, it is laughing gas. Proportionality is needed. If the bill is passed, we need to look at what its aftereffects will be.

Crew 2000 recommends something that I have not seen recommended elsewhere, which is

“a UK wide NPS amnesty”.

That would reduce the possibility of redistribution.

The consequences of a ban are not as straightforward as we might imagine. People who return to opiates from non-opiate NPS will have a reduced tolerance and therefore an increased overdose risk. Mental health problems may be exacerbated when people choose to self-medicate. Again, we will drive people who wish to continue using drugs back to dealing with people who are, after all, criminals.

I commend Sarah Boyack’s comments on the use of local initiatives, which are important.

We must deal with facts. We must deal with the internet and we must work collaboratively to reduce harm and bring about informed decision making.”

You can read a full transcript of the debate here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10118&i=93397

 

John’s speech on the Human Trafficking Bill

Yesterday, John spoke in the Stage 1 debate on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill. He said:

I declare an interest, in that I am a member of Amnesty International, and I thank Amnesty and others for the briefings that they provided for this debate. I also thank Jenny Marra for the work that she has done that has led us to this point. We are at a welcome stage.

The cabinet secretary opened the debate by quoting the bill’s policy memorandum, which says that this is a “serious, complex and multifaceted crime.”

That is entirely the case. However, we are going to have a single offence coming out of it, which I think is positive.

The first of the committee’s recommendations talks about better alignment. The reason for that is highlighted in one of the briefings, which refers to the belief that deviating from internationally accepted definitions might complicate transnational crime investigations with countries that operate within the internationally accepted framework. We need to be conscious of that.

In 2008, Amnesty undertook an inquiry that produced a report called “Scotland’s Slaves”, which highlighted the prevalence of human trafficking in Scotland. Amnesty called on the Scottish Government to implement parts of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, within its devolved powers. I think that this legislation does that and that the dedicated resources that we have heard have been put in place by Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, including the special prosecutor, show that action is being taken.

As many have said, this is an international issue, a cross-border issue and – with reference to the word “travel” – is also something that takes place within our borders. I hope that the Scottish Government will give due consideration to that.

Clearly, there are challenges relating to detection, prosecution and support and to the issue of forced criminality, which involves the victim becoming the accused. I welcome the cabinet secretary’s positive response on that issue.

The issue of consent has also been addressed. The consent of someone who is held in slavery and servitude is not a defence for the perpetrator. Clearly, the Stockholm syndrome has applied in these circumstances.

As has been said by many people, the issue of statutory defence is one of the most interesting aspects of the bill. During evidence taking, we heard compelling arguments from both sides, and we asked the cabinet secretary to reflect on it. Amnesty and others seek to have that statutory defence included in the bill.

Others have talked of the national referral mechanism, which is the process by which people who have been trafficked are identified, assisted and supported by the UK Government. Malcolm Chisholm referred to the fact that this cross-border issue is often clouded by issues relating to immigration and that, in the current climate, it is considered in the context of hostile public opinion in some instances.

That term – that the issue is clouded by immigration – is not just my personal view. It is the view of the Home Office, which produced a report in November 2014 on its review of the national referral mechanism. It outlined some good practice, but there was also criticism “of decision making, the quality and communication of decisions and the ability to manage and share information effectively in the best interest of victims”.

That is clearly something that is absolutely vital if we are going to get things right. The report found further “concerns over the conflation of human trafficking decisions with asylum decisions” – no surprise at all, given that the same parties are involved on occasions — and “elongated timeframes for decisions, lack of shared responsibility and provision of relevant information for decision-making”.

We have some way to go. I was one of the committee members who went on the external visits along with the convener and Alison McInnes, and I am grateful to Barnardo’s Scotland for the visit that it facilitated. We heard graphic stories about people travelling around the world, often not knowing where they are. We forget at our peril, if we dwell too much on statistics, that it is humans we are dealing with. It is for that reason that calls for the best possible psychological support have my backing.

We heard a lot about the strategy. The cabinet secretary used the term “awareness and understanding”, and I think that there is already some of that. The Equal Opportunities Committee heard from an official from City of Edinburgh Council about housing officers being likely to be the first point of contact for people who are the victims of trafficking, rather than police officers or other officials, so there is already some awareness in the system.

GIRFEC has been mentioned, and the committee report refers to the merit of including that approach in the bill. There is a good reason why children would be singled out. We know from the International Labour Organization that children make up 26 per cent of victims trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation, and we are told that, sadly, that figure does not include trafficking for the removal of organs or for forced marriage or adoption. Psychological support of the highest quality should be made available to those victims.

The committee’s report also says that more clarity is required to ensure that child victims receive appropriate and consistent support and assistance across Scotland. We heard COSLA’s concerns and we clearly want the same facilities to be available regardless of where a victim is found. Similarly, with guardianship, there are options that need to be considered, and others certainly support that provision.

A section in the bill on the presumption of age is important, because we know that children have been incarcerated. As other members have said, there can be great difficulty in determining an individual’s age. I am aware of a specific case in the Highlands in which a young man thought that he was on the outskirts of London, when in fact he was on the outskirts of a Highland village, and he ended up in prison although he was quite clearly a victim.

Returning to the definitions, we have talked about the challenge of consistency, and it is not just an issue that the Justice Committee has come up against with this bill but one that recurs whenever we deal with issues affecting children or young people.

The independent and Green group fully supports the bill and the efforts that everyone is putting in to make Scotland a place that is hostile to the traffickers.

You can read the full debate in the Scottish Parliament’s Official Record, or watch it on YouTube – John’s speech begins at 2:01:55.

John’s Speech as Justice Committee Human Rights Rapporteur

John Finnie:

I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests, which states that I am a member of Amnesty International.

As the Justice Committee’s rapporteur on the SNAP process, I welcome the opportunity to close the debate on behalf of the committee. Like our convener and the other members, I am pleased that the committee is engaged in the SNAP process and I am delighted that we have secured this inaugural debate, which comes a few days before international human rights day.

I, too, am glad that the SNAP process is up and running. I congratulate Professor Miller and the SNAP leadership panel on a productive first year. I commend the panel on a first-class annual report and I echo many members’ comments about its user-friendly nature. Perhaps that is a point on which other public bodies could act.

It was particularly encouraging to hear from Professor Miller last week that the human rights approach that is taken in Scotland is perceived internationally as being one of the most collaborative in Europe. Having spoken to Professor Miller today at another meeting, I know that he has just returned from the Ukraine. It is great that Scotland’s position on human rights is viewed positively on the international stage.

Securing this debate has been a positive development and I have enjoyed listening to the speeches.

The convener spoke about the comprehensive résumé of SNAP and outlined the role that the Justice Committee plays in that regard. Of particular significance was the phrase, “all the time”, because we consider human rights as regards all aspects of our undertaking.

I welcome the cabinet secretary to his new portfolio. I commend his use of the words, “protected, respected and realised”. That is terribly important, and he certainly outlined values that everyone in the chamber would sign up to, not least those of democratic renewal and the gaps that are to be filled. Like others, I welcome the announcement. Raising awareness is terribly important.

Elaine Murray talked about the Human Rights Act 1998 and the recent vote that we had. She said that human rights are not embedded in our law and listed some of the challenges that that gives rise to. She also talked about the need for cultural change—particularly with a gender perspective—around a number of women’s issues. That was important.

Margaret Mitchell referred to the action plan as being inclusive and collaborative in approach, which is entirely right. She went on to talk about the effect that that has on ownership of the plan, describing it as a live and vibrant plan. She laid out some of the criminal justice challenges that come with human rights. I commend the apologies legislation to which Margaret Mitchell alluded and welcome Conservative Party support for the motion.

Roderick Campbell talked about the need to protect the individual citizen and the wider role of human rights in that, particularly with reference to care homes. The suggestion of a career structure for workers in that important industry is an important one. Roderick Campbell also talked about the commitment of civic Scotland to human rights and the approach that we have seen there.

If I understood him correctly, John Pentland commendably said that he would oppose any attempt to undermine human rights, and I hope that we would all subscribe to that. He talked about the connection between violence against women and slavery and, like him, I hope for the bill that has come out of Jenny Marra’s hard work in that field.

Alison McInnes talked about why rights matter and awareness. She mentioned the issue that has exercised a number of committees: stop and search and the voluntary versus statutory nature of that. That particular example highlights the competing element of the rights-based approach. She also talked about the measuring process and the rights of the disenfranchised, citing mental health patients. That is a recurring theme.

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Lab) Intervention: 

Is the member aware that the Public Petitions Committee, which I have the honour of convening, has recently heard a petition that argues that the lack of legal aid for defamation cases breaches human rights? Does the member agree?

John Finnie: 

Access to justice is a fundamental human right and there are challenges around the financing of such legal aid along with competing demands. Certainly if access to justice is not achieved it is a right denied.

Graeme Pearson talked about freedom of information and the fact that the citizen needs to trust the authorities. That is very important.

The action plan is a bold and holistic vision covering a number of policy areas that are being looked at. Health and social care was mentioned along with the rights in there that are used to justify the safety of individuals. The work that is being done to ensure justice for the victims of historic child abuse is particularly welcome, as is the development of a comprehensive human rights strategy on violence against women, and I think that we will hear more about that later this afternoon.

The action that SNAP is taking to embed human rights in the structures and culture of policing is obviously of considerable interest to the Justice Committee and the sub-committee on policing. We will watch developments there with interest, particularly as we consider the issues of stop and search and armed police. We certainly welcome SNAP’s focus on those key areas.

The Justice Committee has sought to consider human rights in our everyday work. We have asked difficult questions of decision makers on issues such as police complaints and investigations, prison monitoring and visiting arrangements, women offenders, modern slavery and, of course, stop and search. As we consider the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill, human rights considerations will be at the forefront of our minds, as they will be when we consider the human trafficking legislation and the legislation on fatal accident inquiries.

As rapporteur, I will continue to meet Professor Alan Miller to discuss the progress of SNAP. The committee will continue to engage constructively on those issues. As the convener said, we will be a critical friend of the process and will support the leadership panel in delivering SNAP while holding it and its partners to account to ensure that its objectives are delivered.

The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, said:

“‘Freedom from fear’ could be said to sum up the whole philosophy of human rights.”

As a Parliament we want to help to build a Scotland of confident and fearless citizens who are able to reach their potential free from fear, free from barriers and free from discrimination. With the European convention on human rights incorporated into Scots law under the Scotland Act 1998, this Parliament has human rights embedded in its DNA.

I very much enjoyed today’s debate. I welcome the SNAP annual report and the fact that there have already been tangible results. I welcome the fact that SNAP is gaining international renown and I welcome its ambition for a sustainable human rights culture in all areas of our lives.

I hope that we as a Parliament, we as a Justice Committee and we as individual members and citizens can help to turn that ambition into reality by 2018.

I support Christine Grahame’s motion.

“Democracy is never a lost cause” – John’s speech on the referendum result

Speaking in the debate yesterday following the First Minister’s statement on the independence referendum, John warned that the Westminster parties are keen to return to ‘business as usual’, with promises of new powers already being hastily rolled back, and Labour returning to right-wing policies rather than the progressive solidarity they alluded to during the campaign.

He also raised the question of the Treasury’s apparently illegal leaking of market-sensitive information about the Royal Bank of Scotland as part of the UK Government’s anti-independence campaign. Alex Salmond intervened to announce that he will be passing all the information he has on the incident to the appropriate legal authorities.

The unionist parties have been calling for unity – that is, for opposition to their shared neoliberal agenda to end. John pointed out that the gap between much of the Yes movement and the No parties is not just one of constitutional policy, but of deeply-held values: “I am keen that we find common ground — that is important — but I am afraid that the UK unionist parties still view the corporations as being ahead of the citizens. There is no place for that in my outlook on politics.”

Many Yes campaigners will feel disheartened that we did not get everything we wanted, that we don’t have all the levers of power here in Scotland, but if we stay engaged we can still be a formidable force for social and environmental justice, because, as John said: “Democracy is never a lost cause.”

You can watch John’s speech at BBC Democracy Live – skip to 59 minutes 45 seconds.

The full transcript of John’s speech follows. You can read the full debate in the Scottish Parliament’s Official Report.

John Finnie: I noted that Alex Rowley said that, “change we will have”, and many speeches have referred to the term “vow”. If the prize of voting no was devo max, the UK parliamentary motion suggests that that is not the prize that we are now being offered.

Many people know that Conservative Party MPs are pushing for the Barnett formula to be scrapped. The confusion among the No camp about its position was highlighted again by Rod Campbell, who talked about the Campbell commission. Perhaps confused is the Lib Dems’ default position on matters fiscal.

I wonder what history will make of the 11th hour offers that were made. I wonder what it will make of the Treasury briefing. Indeed, more important, as the First Minister mentioned, I wonder what the legal authorities will make of the Treasury briefing. We need to follow that with great interest.

Johann Lamont referred to Labour’s devolution commission report on the Sewel convention and the position of the Scottish Parliament. That is to be welcomed. She also mentioned concerns on the workplace. I wonder whether those concerns are necessarily shared by partners in the No campaign, because it had a combined position.

First Minister Alex Salmond: I should have pointed out that it is my intention to put all the information that I have on the Treasury briefing in the hands of the correct legal authorities so that the investigation that the UK cabinet secretary does not want to make can proceed through the appropriate legal authorities. Then we will see what happens.

John Finnie: I thank the First Minister for that intervention. I am reassured by it and will pay great attention to how the matter progresses.

The referendum was not about electing a reforming Labour UK Government. Indeed, I do not think that that is what we are likely to see anyway—I do not know whether there is any commitment to reviewing health and safety in the workplace or the position on employment tribunal fees and arrangements, which reward poor employers.

The Labour leader talked about different ways to get the answer that we both want and not going back to business as usual but, of course, it is business as usual. I do not want a private NHS and, although the Labour Party south of the border has been complaining about that, we have heard very little about it north of the border. I certainly do not want a House of Lords. That is a way of rewarding the donors to the unionist parties and has no place in a liberal democracy.

Neil Findlay (Lab, Lothian): I hear a lot of critique of the no side from Mr Finnie. Where was the critique from the left of the yes camp of some of their regressive stuff that was in the white paper and the Government’s policy? Mr Finnie was silent.

John Finnie: Mr Findlay knows that I have spoken out on corporation tax, for instance, if that is what he is alluding to.

We know that more of the same means more illegal wars. Trigger-happy folk, including peace envoy Mr Blair, are mouthing off. We know that business as usual means Trident, with £1.43 billion being spent on the early design and the cost of replacement being perhaps £130 billion. It means austerity, which I raised during Mr Findlay’s speech, with 60 per cent of the cuts still to come and the Labour Party signed up to 97 per cent of them—and Labour will do more through its attack on the under-25s.

If we are talking about what we all want, let me say that I do not want the same language. I do not want talk of “British jobs for British workers”, for instance.

I am keen that we find common ground — that is important — but I am afraid that the UK unionist parties still view the corporations as being ahead of the citizens. There is no place for that in my outlook on politics.

Politics is about priorities, and priorities have to be funded. The question is what will be improved by the no vote. Will the no vote address the challenge of zero-hours contracts, which concern Mr Findlay? Will it improve the situation in relation to work capability assessments?

The UK will cut the Scottish Government’s funding, which will have implications for the priorities that are decided on in this Parliament.

I share Jackie Baillie’s concern about the 900,000 people who are affected by fuel poverty. She will be aware of the survey in the Highlands and Islands that shows that the vast majority of pensioners in the area are in severe fuel poverty, with the highest percentage in Orkney — it is ironic that most of those pensioners live in sight of the flare at the Flotta oil terminal. Energy is a reserved matter, of course.

I take issue with Jackie Baillie on what she said about people choosing between heating and lighting. That choice is already being made, and is reflected in the decisions of food banks to give out cold food because people do not have the wherewithal to heat food.

Jackie Baillie (Lab, Dumbarton): Will the member take an intervention?

John Finnie: I thank the member, but I will not; I have a few points to make and I have taken a couple.

I respect the result, and it is important that we do so. Mostly, I respect the engagement that has taken place, particularly in many areas where, historically, there has not been engagement. I am thinking about the Radical Independence Campaign event in Merkinch, in Inverness, which showed that people turn out when they are given the facts and encouraged to believe that their views matter. I am sure that all sides of the debate respect that.

Most of all, I respect the aspirations to make things better that many people hold. Of course we will work with everyone to deliver improvements. The fiscal commission working group said that we need economic and taxation levers if we are to do that, but that does not mean that we should not keep fighting for social and environmental justice.

Democracy is a great thing. We need to reinforce that message for people who engaged but who feel that, because they did not get the result that they wanted, it is a lost cause. Democracy is never a lost cause. We commend everyone for their participation in this historic event.