We have more people, more expertise but take nothing for granted

Alison Johnstone, Health and Sport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, closed the first day of the party's Spring Conference in Edinburgh with a rallying call for activists to "leave our effort out there" in what promises to be a very competitive election for regional votes.

The Scottish Greens have been polling strongly on the regional vote, suggesting Green MSPs will be elected across the 8 parliamentary regions in May. The party's membership has surged since the independence referendum to over 9,000. In public polling Patrick Harvie is rated the most popular of the Holyrood opposition leaders.

Addressing delegates on the key campaign theme of Guaranteeing a Future For Young People, Alison said:

"Scotland’s young people are the future, and we all agree Scotland can guarantee them a positive future. Sir Ian Wood, who headed up the Government’s commission on youth employment spoke of the 54,000 young people with absolutely nothing to do when they wake up in the morning.  

"We must do more to ensure that no young person leaves school without meaningful employment or education, not just a short term course, but a real opportunity to obtain a recognised and relevant qualification. Our Scotland Guarantee will take great strides in this direction."

And in a rallying call to members and supporters on the campaign trail, Alison, a former athlete, said: 

"There are 8 weeks and 5 days until the election. If we all work together, harder than we have ever worked before, we can secure more Green seats in the next Parliament. If you have a gym membership, consider ‘freezing’ it for the next few weeks, and leaflet or canvass instead. You don’t need a ‘fitbit’, you need a thousand newsletters!

"We have two and a half weeks left in Parliament, then six weeks of the most effective campaigning we have ever done.  We have so many more people, so much more expertise. But take nothing for granted. This is a very competitive business, let’s leave our effort out there, because Scotland needs a bolder Holyrood."

The Scottish Greens' Spring Conference, at Paterson's Land in Edinburgh, continues tomorrow (Sunday), with workshops and fringe events for members, a discussion on the European referendum chaired by Richard Walker, consulting editor of the National newspaper, and an election campaign rally.