A Beginners Guide to Conference

Here's our quick guide to conference for newbies

If you still want to know anything, please contact Caroline at events@scottishgreens.org.uk who'll be happy to help.

Most importantly: if you've never been to conference, come along and give it a try! Conference is an important and enjoyable part of being a party member. It's the place where we can have our voices heard and exercise our democratic right to shape the Scottish Green Party, where we share ideas and learn from one another and where we can spend time with other greens from across the country. This is your party and your conference – so come and join us! 

We always run a short 'Welcome to new people' session at conference, so look out for it in the programme (it's normally run just before the main programme starts). If you are not able to make the session there will also be a 'welcome zone'. This will have reading materials and will be staffed by friendly volunteers who'll come, say hello, answer your questions and help you feel at ease.

Conference has 4 main elements:

  • Speeches Held in plenary (everyone in the same room)
  • Annual General Meeting (AGM) - Once a year (usually autumn), also in plenary
  • Motions - Usually in plenary, occasionally with a few other sessions in parallel 
  • Workshops and Fringe Sessions - Held every conference, on a range of subjects

Workshops & Fringes

What's the difference?

  • Workshops: run by the Party
  • Fringes: run by outside agencies/ organisations


Voting usually only happens at autumn conferences, which for this reason tend to be larger events. Votes are counted by a show of green (support), red (oppose) or white (abstain) cards at the end of each motion. Please be sure to hold your card up clearly to make it easier for the vote counters.

If you'd like to speak for or against a motion, Speaker’s Slips are available from SOC Table, at the front of the meeting hall.

During voting sessions, there are 4 Different Types of Motion

  • Policy Motions - Motions that add a new policy to the Policy Reference Document (PRD) or amends an existing one
    Example: "Motion:(1) Delete section 4.8.4 in its entirety and replace with the following: "We welcome the end of coal-fired electricity generation in Scotland…"
  • Constitutional Motions - Motions that seek to change the Constitution
    Example: “Reforming the Scottish Green Party's Complaints Procedure
  • Conference Motions - Motions where Conference instructs an organ of the Party to do something
    Example: “Repeal the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act
  • Emergency Motions - A very limited number of motions to address current issues, usually created much later on than ordinary motions.

Some years, we also run a small number of workshops during the voting sessions. Whilst hearing debates and voting is very important to party democracy, some members may wish to enjoy workshops or fringes during this time.

When this happens, there will be a WhatsApp group and a Twitter feed for participants which will send alerts when each motion is due to be discussed. This will mean that if you would like to attend a parallel workshop and are waiting for a specific motion, you will be able to attend. Those without access to WhatsApp or Twitter should flag this with another participant at the start of their workshop and ask to be notified when their motion is up.  

Nothing is timetabled against the AGM, and we ask that members make an effort to attend if possible.