Scottish Greens: We remain focused on winning council seats across Scotland
THE SCOTTISH GREENS WILL REMAIN focused on making breakthroughs in the May council elections – amidst calls for the party to back an ‘anti-Tory alliance’ for the sudden June General Election.
The council elections on Thursday 4 May represent the first such elections in five years, within which time politics in Scotland has been transformed as a result of the debate on the country’s constitutional future.
Despite the surge in attention to the snap election, the Scottish Greens have said its priority remains on the council elections rather than “seeking any arrangements with any other parties” for the General Election. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called for a ‘progressive alliance’ on the outside chance the Tories could be out numbered in the House of Commons after the 8 Junes election. However, Labour has rejected any such deal.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, emphasising the council elections, said: “The UK Government is showing arrogance and contempt for democracy by calling one election in the middle of another.
“Right now we are focused on winning more Green councillors.” Scottish Greens
“Our activists and candidates around the country remain committed to achieving better local government in Scotland, and we know that education, care services, local transport and investment in our communities makes a huge difference to people’s quality of life. Right through to the close of poll in the local elections on May 4th, our candidates and campaigners will keep working for these priorities.
“Meanwhile, our national party will set a strategy for the UK election over the coming weeks, and it will be for our local branches to decide how to implement it. The Scottish Greens have always been a democratic party where the members make decisions, and local branches are responsible for choosing which constituencies to contest.
“Contrary to one newspaper report, we have neither made nor are we seeking any arrangements with any other parties in Scotland about where to stand. Whatever our local branches decide, as a party we will support them. They will no doubt be aware of the desire to stop Tory MPs. But right now we are focused on winning more Green councillors.”
Scottish Greens co-convenor Maggie Chapman told The National newspaper that she would be “quite happy” to support non-Green candidates against the Tories.
The “newspaper report” comment referred to comments by Scottish Greens co-convenor Maggie Chapman, who told The National newspaper that she would be “quite happy for us [the Scottish Green party] to support non-Green candidates if it meant getting Tories out of Scotland”.
The party is standing a record high 218 council candidates in May. In 2012, prior to the party’s substantial independence campaign surge, the Greens won contests in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, Midlothian and Stirling. This time the party is aiming to win contests in the majority of Scotland’s 32 councils.
The Greens stood 32 candidates out of 59 across Scotland in 2015, winning just 1.3 per cent of the total vote. Smaller parties are traditionally squeezed under the ‘First Past the Post’ electoral system with only parties that come first in individual constituencies winning any representation.
“So, for me, what that means for the Scottish Greens is generally aiming to stand where there aren’t marginals which the Tories might win.” Adam Ramsay
In contrast, the council election is held under the single transferable vote (STV) system – a form of proportional representation where smaller parties fare far better. In 2016 the party trebled its number of MSPs from two to six, becoming the fourth biggest party in parliament.
Leading Scottish Green activist Adam Ramsay, reflecting on the challenge for the independent Green parties north and south of the border in a General Election, said: “As I see it, the questions for Greens in all of the nations of the UK are roughly the same: 1) does the party have enough resource to run in every seat? (no) 2) is it a priority to run in as many seats as possible, or to run energising and powerful campaigns where the party does stand? I think the latter.
“When deciding where to run and where not to run, should we take into account broader political context, such as the importance of the Tories not getting a mega-majority for their hard Brexit and Scotland getting the right to an independence referendum? I think so.
“So, for me, what that means for the Scottish Greens is generally aiming to stand where there aren’t marginals which the Tories might win. If we had the resource to stand everywhere and run serious campaigns all over, it might be a different matter. But that’s not where the party’s at.”
In 2015 the Greens ran in the only Scottish Tory MP David Mundell’s constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale. The party won 839 votes, while Mundell secured a majority of 798 over the SNP.
Picture courtesy of Digi Tailway
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