Scottish 2021 Elections – is now finally the time Scotland becomes a Good Food Nation?
What happened at the Scottish Food Coalition Hustings?
On the 30th March, nearly 200 people tuned in to the Scottish Food Coalition’s 2021 Election Hustings. This online event saw the following Scottish Parliamentary election debate and share their parties plans for fixing our food system:
(Clockwise from left: Brian Taylor, Liam McArthur, Mags Hall, Rhoda Grant, Jim Fairlie and Brian Whittle)
The SFC have been longstanding campaigners of a Good Food Nation Bill. This is the cross-cutting piece of food legislation needed in Scotland to address the multiple issues that affect our food system. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 a Bill was never brought forward. However, as our Food Stories project has illustrated, the need for a Bill did not disappear. It is therefore vital that food is high on the agenda of the 2021 Election, so that we can get to work with MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in making Scotland a Good Food Nation.
What happened on the night?
Mary Brennan, the chair of the SFC, started the evening by giving an introductory speech. This introduced who the Scottish Food Coalition are, our vision for Scotland's food system and how we work: by taking a holistic approach to transforming our food system that considers all aspects. This way of working was reflected in the way the evening was structured. We had four key themes - jobs, health, poverty and nature and climate – with each section prefaced by a short scene setting video to put the discussion in context. You can find the links to these videos by clicking on each theme.
"Covid has shown just how precious, precarious and fragile our food system is and how urgently food systems transformation is required" - Mary Brennan
The evening was chaired by Brian Taylor, the ex-BBC Scotland Political Editor, who deftly conducted proceedings, weaving in questions from the audience, challenging party policies, and ensuring each candidate was given ample space to discuss the topics.
It was a fascinating evening with a wide-ranging discussion touching on many of the key issues affecting our food system. Our Good Food Nation Ambassadors – a network of volunteers who work with us on our campaigns – had questions picked for discussion which was a highlight. We are delighted to see all the candidates supportive of a Good Food Nation Bill and all recognised the need for urgent action to tackle the issues in Scotland’s food system.
What happens next?
Before the election on May 6th, we will be keeping an eye out on all the political parties’ manifestos to that check they have committed to bringing forward a Good Food Nation Bill in the first parliamentary year. To help with this, we are supporting our Ambassadors to contact their candidates and asking them to sign our Candidates Pledge that states:
“I pledge to support the introduction of a Good Food Nation bill in the first parliamentary year. This must be founded upon the right to food, which will deliver a resilient, socially just, healthy and environmentally sustainable food system.”
After the election, we will be engaging with the new MSPs to ensure a Good Food Nation Bill is delivered with the upmost urgency. The time is now for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation.
You can work with us to take action here. If you didn't make it on the night, watch a recording of the Hustings here.
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Andrew Stark - RSPB Scotland