Sarah BeattieSmith_smallMembers of Scottish Greens branches across the South of Scotland region met in Melrose yesterday (21 November) to kickstart their campaign for next May’s Holyrood elections. The party’s top list candidate for the region, Sarah Beattie-Smith, was joined by co-convenors Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman, to outline to conference delegates the party’s key policies.

The conference, the first for the party’s South of Scotland regional branches, was hosted by the Borders group. “We wanted to draw together all the branches in the region,” said party member and conference organiser Tim Clancey. “It was about participation, collectively building the party’s vision. This isn’t a top-down party – energy and ideas come from the branches.”

Sarah Beattie-Smith said:

“I joined the Scottish Greens because I saw so much was wrong and I wanted to help change the world. In Scotland, half a million children live in poverty;

2 in 5 people live in fuel poverty; 400,000 people are on the minimum wage or less. I want to work for these people and change their lives. That’s why I’m in politics.

“We’ve already forced the Scottish government to think about implementing the Living Wage; we’ve already forced them to place a moratorium on fracking. I want party members to have faith that we can help to change Scotland; and I want party members to spend time giving the voters faith.”

Patrick Harvie, party co-convenor, said:

“It’s reassuring to see the energy that came into the party after the independence referendum turn into activism and events around the country. In the past we’ve not had the capacity to knock on doors, be active in every area – we don’t have that excuse any longer. We had this incredible surge of skills, activity and energy, and the party is now full of new, fresh experience.

"In the past, with only two MSPs, we’ve had to spread ourselves thin – but we still punched above our weight. We made a compelling case for the SNP to implement more green policies. And we’ve more work to do to make a compelling case to push the SNP to build a sustainable, supportive society.”

The conference was also addressed by Ian Baxter, Scottish Greens Midlothian councillor; Mark Frankland of The First Base Agency, which supplies emergency food parcels; and Trish Buchan, co-founder of campaign group Scotland Against Fracking.

Policies the Scottish Greens will be campaigning on in the South are jobs and the economy; transport; broadband and mobile coverage; land reform and local democracy; and sustainable energy. The party will be standing list candidates in all eight regions.