Molly Cato Scott is a green economist as well as The Green Party’s lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in the South West of England. Molly passionately believes that at the heart of our environmental problems is a badly designed economic system. Steve Hynd recently caught up with Molly to find out why she thought standing for election will help solve either the economic or environmental crises we currently face.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you think you are qualified to represent the South West of England in the European Parliament?
I have been working as a green economist for the past 15 years. I have been involved in the Green Party for 23 years including standing in general elections and European elections and I am now leader of the Green Group on Stroud District Council, where we are part of the administration.
I hope that I can use this experience to best represent everyone living in the South West.
What way will a Green MEP for the South West look different to any of the others?
The Green Group in the European Parliament is doing great work challenging the interests of finance in Europe and resisting the increasing inequality between North and South. Oh and of course protecting workers’ rights and the environment!
I would like to be a part of that, helping to Green the Common Agricultural Policy for example. The EU spends a lot of money in the south-west of England but at present it does not have to achieve real environmental objectives, I would be seeking to change that.
Can you explain why the European Parliament elections affect ordinary people living and working in the South West?
There are so many ways. To give just one example, the rules that govern the single market that we operate within are made by the EU so it is vital that we are contributing positively to making sure that they achieve the best for the South West.
When people vote in the European Elections, they vote for a party, not for an individual. Do you agree with everything the Green Party stands for and if not, what will you do if you have to choose between personal beliefs and party policy?
I sometimes wonder if I might disagree, but when I read party policy I find that I agree. I used to be a bit tepid about the banking policy but I worked with a friend to change the policy so it’s fine now–no, it’s excellent!
I think we could do with emphasising the political economy implications of some of our policies a bit more. So for example on immigration we should, of course, be fighting the racist attacks on migrant workers but we should also be arguing for better global protection of workers’ rights in a globalised economy
How do you explain the recent rise in popularity in UKIP and the relative flat-lining of the Greens? Do you think this will be the same in the upcoming election?
I don’t think you are right to say that the Greens are flat-lining. The Greens are seeing a strong but steady increase, especially in the South West. Our main problem is the media, who focus on the daft, shallow stories about UKIP and tend to ignore our more serious issues. It is incredibly hard to get journalists to deal seriously with either Europe or the environment. A shame on them and a pity for us all. I think Zoe Williams had it pretty much right with her analysis of why UKIP get such attention from the media.
What is the one thing you hope to achieve if elected to the European Parliament?
One thing? You aren’t very ambitious!
I will focus on the stuff where I think I can make the most difference: finance and the single market. It is hard to know how far I can go until I understand the politics better from the inside. I would like to take my understanding of finance into the parliament, because I am not sure how many of the Greens really understand what went wrong with the Eurozone crisis. I also think we should work for more local supply of food and against the endless increase in pointless and energy-intensive trade.
You have previously written on the importance of working shorter working hours and yet you are applying for a job with some of the longest, have you thought about how personally you are going to balance that?
I have thought about this. I think that it would be a sacrifice to be away from Stroud. I think that most politicians make a similar sacrifice and it is one reason that the attacks on politicians are pretty unfair. But there are times when the parliament is out of session when I will be delighted to jump onto Eurostar and come home.
If elected, will you continue as a Stroud District Councillor?
Absolutely not, the time commitments would make it impossible.