#SGPConf Demands, warnings and a rallying cry to do more … the rise and rise of the Scottish Greens


THERE were no coughing fits, no signage malfunctions, no apparent nerves. And crucially perhaps, no sense of triumphalism.

But when Patrick Harvie, suited and booted,  took the podium at the Scottish Green Party conference in Edinburgh, the hundreds gathered and those who will see him on TV later could be left in no doubt.

This is a man, and a party, that means business.

He spoke at length about the achievements he and his fellow MSPs, backed by the grass-roots campaigns around the country, have managed to eke out of Holyrood through patience, political nous and sheer bloody mindedness.

And why not?

Successes with John Finnie over the introduction of a smacking ban borne from a childhood when he was afflicted by the thwack of a belt, progress and close to outright victory with the fracking ban, 20mph speed limits rolled out across the country and more besides is by numbers, punching above the party weight.

This though wasn’t a speech about past victories. It wasn’t resting on their laurels. It was, to plunder a quote from US political drama the West Wing, a clear and open opportunity for the party to ask – what’s next?

And a platform from which to put the Scottish Government on notice that they need to move with the Scottish Greens on key areas IF they want to continue counting on their support.

The message, in all all its articulation and oratory brilliance, may have been a crowd pleaser in the lecture hall.

Yet its real targets among the ranks of the SNP hierarchy will have been paying close attention too.

And it will make for fascinating viewing over the coming weeks and months as team Green goes toe to toe with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, finance minister Derek Mackay, education minister John Swinney and co.

It couldn’t have been any more plain.

He said: “We have a very clear message for the finance secretary – this is the only way you’ll get Green support for the Budget.”

What’s next then could, and perhaps should, be a defining moment in the continued evolution of the green movement in Scotland.

They have put taxing higher earners and lifting and fully funding the pay cap in public sector workers top of their negotiations. Strike that, it didn’t seem like an opening gambit, more of a do it or else.

The proposed air departure tax cut they say cannot happen. It must be grounded for good.

But it could very well be in areas of education and environmental courts that we see the real drama begin to unfurl.

Both subjects close to the hearts if these Scottish Greens.


And in this mood, in this vein of form, it seems that Harvie’s battlecry of leading a party that “will never stop challenging” is something to take notice of.

The challenge for the Scottish Greens now .. what if the government says no?

Want to learn more? Read: Scottish Greens Autumn conference 

Image credits: Shaun Milne


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