Focus on regional list votes helps Greens, says Harvie

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Other parties’ focus on the regional list vote in the election will end up helping the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie has said.

Mr Harvie also said there was now a “solid core” of Green voters who saw his party as their first preference.

Meanwhile, co-leader Lorna Slater said the Greens offered a “significantly different” vision for an independent Scotland to that of the SNP.

Both co-leaders spoke to the PA news agency during the election campaign.

Patrick Harvie
Greens are no longer the second preference for many voters, Mr Harvie said (John Linton/PA)

He said: “Quite often it feels as if the Tory and Labour campaigns are modelled on the Green campaign in 2003, when we were the only party saying ‘give us your regional vote, that’s the one we want’.

“It feels now as though everybody else is doing that kind of voter awareness work.

“I think that helps us a lot because we’ve spent those 20 years reminding people that that’s the most effective way of getting Greens elected.”

Mr Havie said it could no longer be assumed that Green voters were backing the party as a second preference.

He said: “I think it’s really clear that might’ve been the case back in 1999 or even 2003.

“But over the years there is now clearly a solid core of Green voters who are Green voters first and foremost.”

Green voters wanted to see more ambitious action on climate change, he said, as well as a focus on “what independence would be for, rather than just seeing it as an end in itself”.

Recent polling has suggested there is a mixed picture around attitudes towards independence among Green voters, despite the party itself being in favour of it.

Mr Harvie said the vast majority of Scottish Green Party members were in favour of independence, adding: “We still have a responsibility both to convince more Greens about independence, even if it’s only a minority who are sceptical at the moment, but also to convince more independence-minded people that a green society is the purpose of independence.”

He said that despite speculation, neither the SNP nor the Greens had been “floating” the idea of a coalition between the two parties after the election.

However, in the event any other party invites them to form a coalition, the Scottish Green Party has a formal process involving its National Council and party members to decide the way forward – meaning it is not solely a decision for Mr Harvie and Ms Slater.

Scottish Local Elections 2021
In the event of coalition negotiations, the matter is not solely one for Mr Harvie and Ms Slater (Andrew Milligan/PA)

However having activists more used to online video conference has been “incredibly powerful”, he said.

Away from the “toxic bin fire” of politics on social media, he said fellow candidates in Glasgow Kelvin had developed a collegiate attitude towards one another.

Earlier in the campaign, Ms Slater spoke about the Green vision for an independent Scotland.

She said the Greens were against capitalism rather than being “anti-business”, saying Scotland should have far more co-operatives rather than corporations.

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
Lorna Slater said the Greens were against capitalism, not business (Andrew Milligan/PA)

However she hoped the Greens could contribute to a new economic model for independence.

She said: “I think our vision for what an independent Scotland looks like is significantly different than what the SNP’s vision is.

“That’s why it’s important to have more than one party involved in the discussion of independence.

“Independence isn’t owned by one party.”

She continued: “I want to make it really clear that the Scottish Greens are not anti-business but we are anti-capitalism. I would, for example, make co-operatives the norm.

“Why should our high streets be dominated by corporations that take their profits offshore whilst paying their employees as little as possible?”

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