Scottish Greens should vote for the young people delivering radical results
Radical politics is judged on its results. That’s what Pablo Iglesias, Podemos leader and now Deputy Prime Minster of Spain said in his 2011 book Politics In A Time of Crisis.
I’m leading with that quote partly because the opening line is always the hardest, so leaning on a better writer has hopefully grabbed your attention (did it work?) but more importantly, because it is an idea in which I hope this year’s Scottish Greens internal election debates are rooted.
Iglesias’ point was that too often the radical left judges itself by ideological purity whilst the public at large judge us by the same standards they do the rest of the political spectrum, on what we actually achieve. Now, with Podemos in a coalition government alongside Spain’s centre-left, they will most certainly be judged on what they have achieved.
Back in Scotland, the Greens have been more influential in the period since 2016 than at any point in our movement’s history, here or anywhere else in the UK. We’ve secured over half a billion pounds for local services, saved library, swimming pools and schools from closure, rewrote the income tax system so the richest pay a bit more and those on the lowest incomes a bit less, prevented a sanctions regime for devolved social security, gave children equal protection from assault and from next year, delivered free bus travel for all under-19s.
Those are the results I hope we’ll be judged on when voters go to the polls in ten months’ time. If the public hear everything six Green MSPs have achieved, I have no doubt they’ll want more, propelling the election of brilliant candidates like Kim Long in Glasgow & Gillian Mackay in Central Scotland.
We need to be honest with ourselves though – and this round of internal elections is the best time to do so – voters can’t judge us on results they haven’t heard of.
Communicating what we’ve achieved isn’t the sole responsibility of our media staff, though I’m proud of the huge progress they have made with our digital comms operation in particular. If we’re to reach enough people and do so enough times (there’s decent research that voters require 8-14 points of contact with a party or candidate before they really take in our message), it requires a whole party effort.
To win a dozen rather than half a dozen Green MSPs in May, we need an unprecedented level of party-building, from fundraising to activist training to branch development. All of that is essential to in turn deliver an unprecedented level of door-knocking, materials delivery, outreach to key communities etc.
That party-building will – or will not – be driven by the people we elect to our national committees this summer.
Before the pandemic, the Scottish Greens were making huge progress shifting our internal culture. The predisposition towards too many meetings and too much time speaking to ourselves was fading. It was being replaced by a new ‘campaigning first’ culture, focused on reaching out to voters in the most effective ways possible, as often as possible. It was focused on winning, on delivering results.
That much-needed culture shift has been driven in large part by brilliant Young Greens across the country, many of whom are standing for national positions for the first time this year. If we’re to complete this journey towards a more effective organisation and movement, it’ll likely depend on their election.
Having been on our Elections & Campaigns committee in various roles for eight years, I’m thrilled to see so many Young Greens standing there in such a critical year. Good folk like Cameron Glasgow (the youngest candidate in Scotland last December), Amy Smith (Vice-president for Education at Stirling University) and Scott Rutherford (our candidate in the extremely challenging Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath constituency last year) would be a huge asset to the committee through the Holyrood election campaign, particularly as they know what its like to campaign outside of our strongholds of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
For Standing Orders Committee, the outstanding returning officer for this past weekend’s Scottish Young Greens (SYG) AGM, Ellie Gomersall is running for ordinary member and Emma McShane, the national party’s current returning officer is up for committee co-convenor.
Of the party’s six national co’s – our co-leaders, Executive co-chairs and Council co-convenors – I’m currently the only Young Green, so I’m really pleased to see Edinburgh Young Greens’ James Puchowski running for Council co-convenor. As the party’s main strategic body, Council is ultimately responsible for the key decisions on our manifesto, election messaging and campaign plans. Having another Young Green there would be a huge boost to the radical agenda SYG has successfully pushed the party to adopt in recent years.
And though it’s uncontested, I am running again for Executive co-chair, so would appreciate your positive votes to continue working with our staff team and national office bearers to secure our finances, grow our membership and hit the strategic objectives in our organisational plan.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Young Greens running for internal posts. As the brilliant recent SYG AGM showed, the Young Greens are now too big and too active for me to even know who everyone is. I have no doubt there are other fantastic young members standing, all of whom will be getting high preferences from me.
While I’ve been around a while, I’ve still got five years of being a Young Green left and I’m looking forward to spending this one with plenty other young members round the table when key decisions are being made.
So when your ballot comes through, vote for the Young Greens focused on delivering radical results!
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Image credit: Delphine Dallison – Creative Commons