A Very Different Election - Westminster 2015

Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman set out some Green reflections on the 2015 Westminster election in Scotland.

The Scottish Greens believe that Scotland’s best interests - and those of the UK as a whole - are best served by Scotland becoming an independent country. We believed that on 17 September. We believed that on 19 September. And we still believe that.

This is because we want to see Scotland flourish. We are not alone in that of course, nor in some of the priorities which come from that aspiration. We share a rejection of Trident nuclear weapons, for example; we want to see public services adequately funded, not starved or flogged off to the private sector; we want to see an end to demonising welfare and immigration policy and instead a citizen’s income which brings dignity to social security and a welcoming Scotland which recognises the benefits brought by migrants.  Indeed, we recognise that these priorities are also held by many people who voted No in September.

So, an inevitable backdrop to this election is the question of more powers for Scotland – as we argue in our submission to the Smith Commission.  The scale of ambition for a deeper form of self-government is testament to the success of the Yes campaign in galvanising a positive, forward-looking vision of Scotland and the way it rocked the complacency of the Westminster establishment.

At the same time, there have been various suggestions that members of Yes-supporting political parties should seek to stand for the next Westminster elections in May 2015 on a single cross-party ticket, sometimes described as a Yes or Independence Alliance. While an election is of course very different to a referendum, we have always been a party that sees the value of cooperation in politics, and we have been open to exploring whether it would be possible.

However, the SNP have, in the meantime, become the first party to publicly rule out such inter-party cooperation, and are instead looking to select non-SNP members to stand, in some places, at next year’s Westminster election, under an SNP banner. This position was endorsed at the SNP’s November annual conference. Whatever we think about the pros and cons of a cross-party approach, without the SNP this is no longer an option. 

Of course, as a political party we have significant differences with the SNP – on sustainable energy, on a just economy, on radical democracy, on low carbon transport, and on a defence approach centred on peace-building rather than outdated military alliances: to name just some examples – that is, after all, why we are different parties! It is why we ran a distinctive Green Yes campaign, converging on the need for independence but diverging on what that independence should look like. People told us they liked that distinctive Green vision. We think they deserve to hear that distinctive vision still.

So – people have told us that they want Green candidates to do well in these elections. They want to see Green MPs elected in seats like Edinburgh East, where we’ve selected Peter McColl to be our candidate, to serve with the same distinction as Caroline Lucas, the first Green MP, elected in 2010. We’d be an odd sort of political party if we too did not want that.

And if, as we contend, voting Green in the 2015 election is part of wider momentum for further change, further reform, further powers for Scotland to be the greener, fairer, more democratic country it needs to be – then that is something in which we will enthusiastically play our part.

The authors are co-convenors of the Scottish Greens: Patrick Harvie is a Green MSP, Maggie Chapman is a Green councillor.