Scottish Greens announce first 2011 Holyrood candidates

The Scottish Greens today announced the party's top candidates for next May's Holyrood elections across six of the eight Holyrood regions. Councillor Alison Johnstone will top the Greens' list for Lothians following Robin Harper MSP's decision to stand down at the 2011 election, while two former Green MSPs will contest the seats they won in 2003: Mark Ruskell in Mid Scotland and Fife and co-convenor Eleanor Scott in Highlands and Islands.

Councillor Martin Ford, who left the Lib Dems over their handling of the Trump affair, will be the party's top candidate in the North East, and Central region will again be contested by local Fairtrade activist Kirsten Robb. Co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP has been reselected to top the Glasgow regional list. The party's top candidates for South and West regions will be announced in due course.

The party is confident of making significant advances at the 2011 election, and will bring a distinctive agenda on the economy and public services to the campaign as well as innovative policies on core environmental issues. In addition, the party is buoyed up by recent Green successes in Brighton and Australia.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"I'm grateful to my colleagues in Glasgow for selecting me to contest a third Holyrood election, and I'll be proud to stand alongside an excellent crop of Green candidates across Scotland - candidates with experience in Parliament, in local government and as community activists on a wide range of issues. With hard work between now and next May, I'm convinced that the people of Glasgow can also elect a second Green MSP to Holyrood. Councillor Martha Wardrop has served the people of Hillhead with determination and imagination since 2007, and she would be an extraordinary asset for the Scottish Parliament too.

"The 2011 election will be an important moment, where Scots can vote for a positive agenda of social justice and safeguarding the environment instead of the failed centre-right agenda of the rest. Every other political party at Holyrood supported that agenda - growth obsessed, free market dominated and environmentally reckless - while the Greens predicted their failure.

"Now a vicious programme of public service cuts is proposed as the solution. The alternative is to cut the vanity projects and protect the vital services; to realise the opportunities of a low-waste, low-energy, low-carbon economy; and to put quality of life ahead of the selfish values of the right which have dominated our politics for far too long. We have the opportunity to re-draw Scotland's political landscape next year. I urge everyone who wants to see that happen to get involved with the Greens and help make it a reality."

Eleanor Scott said:

"Next year's election will be crucial for the economy and livelihoods of rural Scotland, and the campaign to win in Highlands and Islands starts today. Across the region the recession is biting and the cost of living is rising. The other parties have settled for bickering and shallow point-scoring, but I will use this election to set out a positive Green alternative, one where economic policy is driven by the needs of local people and local business.

"Since 2007 the Green MSPs have persuaded other parties to start looking seriously at a project to insulate every home in Scotland, although the schemes proposed so far are too slow and too small. A proper universal insulation scheme for Scotland would save money, cut household bills and boost jobs, while also tackling fuel poverty and climate change. It's the kind of common-sense approach Greens bring forward, and exactly the kind of project I'd be fighting for at Holyrood if the people of Highlands and Islands elect me again as their Green MSP."

Councillor Alison Johnstone said:

"It is an extraordinary honour to have been backed by party members as their top Green candidate for the Lothians. It is now more than ten years since Robin Harper made history in this seat as the first Green Parliamentarian anywhere in the UK, and he will truly be a hard act to follow. I first became involved with the Greens through campaigning for green spaces at Meggetland, and since 2007 I have represented the residents of Meadows and Morningside as their first Green councillor.

"As the region's Green MSP Robin has worked hard for local people across Edinburgh and the Lothians for more than a decade. We'll miss him in Parliament, but I know he'll be around to help keep us on the right track. I share his high hopes for the future of Edinburgh and the Lothians, and I will work hard to try and see my colleague Steve Burgess elected to Holyrood too. The Lothians have elected two Green MSPs before, and I believe we can do so again."

Mark Ruskell said:

"I am delighted to get another chance next year to represent the people of Mid Scotland and Fife as their Green MSP having thoroughly enjoyed working with communities across the region in the last session. Our region relies on its connections to the rest of Scotland, yet none of the other parties are prepared to invest the modest amount needed to repair the Forth Road Bridge. Instead they are planning to blow billions on a new bridge, condemning commuters to a decade of congestion while draining money from health, education and public transport budgets to pay for it. Only a strong Green voice for Mid Scotland and Fife will help avoid this bleak prospect.

"The next Scottish Parliament will also make crucial decisions about the future of our economy and our energy mix. There's more to the energy question than climate change, too. As oil reserves and production starts to fall, the costs of failing to make the switch to renewables will rise and rise. The SNP have repeatedly come back to Parliament with climate targets that might as well have had "No Action" stamped on them, plus proposals for new dirty and outdated coal-fired power stations. It's taken the Green MSPs to hold the line against them. Without a bigger group of Greens in Holyrood from May, the other parties may well feel free to take us down this sort of dead end. Every vote will count, and I relish the fight to deliver a sustainable and affordable energy future for Scotland."

Councillor Martin Ford said:

"The North-east desperately needs some new MSPs. No-one in Parliament currently represents the thousands of North-east residents who want to see priority to given to investing in education, instead of expensive and ineffective road building. The vast majority of North-east MSPs have remained completely silent on the threat of eviction hanging over the residents at Menie. All of them are backing transport schemes that will increase carbon emissions while claiming to be committed to tackling climate change.

"The North-east needs a strong Green voice in Holyrood, someone local people can trust and who will put the community's interest before short-term and unsustainable profiteering. I am therefore most grateful to the Scottish Green Party's membership for giving me the chance to be their top candidate and I will fight for every vote across this region next May.

"I first got involved in politics over twenty years ago. Throughout my political life I have sought to promote the democratic, environmental and liberal values I believe in. After many years in the Liberal Democrats, I left that party when it became clear to me that its decisions were being made on the basis of short-term expediency, rather than the values it claimed to represent. The experience of working with the Green MSPs and other Green Party colleagues over the past 15 months has confirmed to me that I made the right choice in deciding to join them. It would be a great honour to join a growing Green Group in Parliament next year."

Kirsten Robb said:

"In 2007 I was the Scottish Greens' top candidate for Central Scotland, and the Green campaign came close to winning a seat here for the first time. Over the next eight months we will redouble our campaigning efforts across the region and make the case for the kind of greener Scotland I believe local people want to live in. We know too many of our communities still struggle with poverty, deprivation and the legacies each recession has left.

"All across Scotland, though, it's clear what a difference just two Green MSPs have made. For example, two hundred and sixty-one community-led projects across Scotland have shared almost