Photo: Alison Johnstone MSP

The Scottish Green Party has today confirmed that Alison Johnstone MSP will be contesting the constituency seat of Edinburgh Central in next May’s Holyrood election, in addition to restanding as an MSP for the Lothians region, where she tops the Greens’ list.

This follows the announcement in June that Scottish Greens Co-Convenor Patrick Harvie will be contesting the constituency seat of Glasgow Kelvin.

This will only the be second time the Scottish Greens has ever stood candidates in a constituency contest for Holyrood, with Martin Bartos previously having stood in Glasgow Kelvin in 2007. The Greens have never stood a candidate in Edinburgh Central, although it has long been the part of Edinburgh with the highest Green vote—with the Greens taking 20% of the regional vote in Edinburgh Central in 2003, placing them ahead of all other parties.

Sitting SNP MSP and government minister, Marco Biagi, is standing down in Edinburgh Central. In addition to SNP candidate Alison Dickie, Johnstone will also face former minister Sarah Boyack, for Labour, and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said:

This is an important step forward for the Greens. Our main focus, in Lothian and throughout Scotland, will be seeking Green votes on the regional list where backing from one in ten voters will lead to Green MSPs being elected in every region.

So we are likely to contest only a small handful of constituencies. And Edinburgh Central is one of them. It is where our votes have been highest in the past and the heartbeat of the capital. We want to give all those Green supporters something extra to get involved in. And, as Green MP Caroline Lucas has shown in Brighton, with 42% of the vote in 2015, Greens can win in constituencies.

There’s a wider political importance too. With Labour and Liberal Democrats all at sea the stage is set for next year’s Scottish election to be all about the SNP as the party of government trying to sprawl across the centre-ground. On one side are the Tories, trying to draw them to the right and backwards. On the other side are the Greens, firmly to the left and for a fairer, sustainable future. Edinburgh Central will be a mini-version of that choice and I am relishing the contest.

The Greens have confirmed that Edinburgh Central is the only constituency seat which they are contesting in Lothian.

Scottish Green Party membership now numbers 9,000 with opinion polls consistently placing the party between 8 and 13 per cent on the regional vote, suggesting Green MSPs will be elected across each of the 8 parliamentary regions.