Five things to ask your MSP candidates to test their commitment to global justice

Five things to ask your MSP candidates to test their commitment to global justice

By: Liz Murray
Date: 25 March 2021
Campaigns: Aid, Climate, General, Pharma, Trade

With the Scottish parliament elections on May 6, now’s the time to be asking questions of the parliamentary candidates in your area.

Some of the biggest challenges of the day call for co-operation and understanding between nations. The multiple crises of the climate and nature emergencies and the global pandemic, combined with age old geopolitics and a global economy rigged in favour of the richest, mean that this is a crucial time for co-operation and understanding between nations. What happens here in Scotland makes a difference, for better or worse. We need politicians with an internationalist outlook who will act from a position of global solidarity with the global south.

Here are five things you can ask your local Scottish parliament candidates to test their commitment to global solidarity.

Access to medicines

It’s widely agreed that vaccines are the most certain route out of the pandemic, and that no one is safe until we’re all safe. Unprecedented levels of global co-operation are needed to make this happen. And yet, patents on vaccines mean the big pharmaceutical companies are able to control their supply and cost. This, combined with vaccine nationalism by the rich countries who have bought the vast majority of supplies, means that many countries in the global south may not get widespread access to vaccines until as late as 2023.

Question to candidates:

If elected, will you call on the UK government to support the proposal at the World Trade Organisation to drop patents on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments for the duration of the pandemic, so that production can be ramped up and life-saving vaccines and treatments made available to everyone everywhere?

Climate justice

The climate emergency is being felt across the planet, every day. It’s not being felt equally though, and those most affected are in the global south – in the countries which have done the least to cause climate change, who were impoverished by colonialism and have then had decades of a global economy rigged against them. Scotland got rich in large part through our slave trading and colonial past, and through burning fossil fuels. As a good global citizen we must acknowledge that, and now play our part in tackling the climate crisis by rapidly decarbonising, in particular our most polluting sectors of transport, buildings and agriculture, and by championing climate justice globally.

Question to candidates:

If elected, will you call for Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund (which provides funds to countries in the global south) to be significantly increased, with new and additional finance, for example from a high emitter tax, while aligning it with best practice in climate adaptation globally?

Debt cancellation

Countries around the world are having to massively scale up their health budgets to fight the coronavirus crisis. And while this isn’t easy for any country, it’s particularly difficult for those countries weighed down by debt. Many of the poorest countries are spending more on servicing debt payments than they are on life-saving public services.

Question to candidates:

If elected, will you call for and support Scotland’s international development partner countries of Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda in the writing down of their debt so that they are able to prioritise the needs of the health emergency, protect jobs and build their economies?

Trade justice

Trade has always been part of society and always will be. But global trade deals and modern trade rules go beyond the customs border and into the realm of public policy, and treat democratically agreed protections for public health, workers and the environment as barriers to trade to be reduced or done away with. That could result in downward pressure on Scotland’s high standards on food safety, animal welfare and the environment, and would also be a direct competitive threat to Scotland’s farmers and food producers. It could also put pressure on the NHS in Scotland, through higher medicine prices. And the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) in many trade deals could allow foreign corporations to sue the government for laws made in Scotland that threatened current or future profits.

Question to candidates:

If elected, will you oppose any trade deal that threatens Scotland’s public services, puts downward pressure on Scotland’s food, farming, workers’ and environmental standards, and any that include an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism?


For too long UK aid spending has been driven by notions of charity, national self-interest and an ideological belief that free markets and multinational business can solve the world’s problems. The UK government’s latest move to cut the aid budget whilst vastly increasing the budget for military spending, and the merger of the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office, shows that a new progressive vision for aid is urgently needed. It must be re-focused on principles of social justice and the need to redistribute economic and political power in the world. While Scotland’s powers over international development are limited, how our country views the role of aid is important.

Question to candidates:

If elected, will you call for aid spending to tackle the root causes of global injustice and for it to positively support public services such as universal healthcare and education, develop progressive tax regimes, tackle gender inequality and promote food sovereignty?

Your candidates

For contact details of your constituency and regional MSP candidates, check leaflets that come through your door, look candidates up on social media or check this website which should be updated as more candidate information becomes available:

Find out more

Photo: LewishamDreamer/Flickr