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What gets people elected? Obviously, in this country, the answer is mega-bucks from large corporate interests.

But, failing that, what? Great parliamentarians doing brilliant work, or a large active membership knocking on the doors and doing everything they can to get those parliamentarians elected?

It’s a question which haunts political parties. Grass roots members challenged the Blairite Labour Party, SNP members are questioning why everything their party does is controlled from within the Sturgeon household, and LibDems wonder how their party was stolen by the Clegg and Swinson disasters.

Now the question is being asked in the Scottish Green Party (SGP) internal elections. GreenRoots has formed to stand a group of candidates calling for greater focus on building branches and members.

A significant number who joined in the Green surge after the independence referendum have now left the Party. GreenRoots believes this is partly because the party has concentrated on parliamentary and national work at the expense of building vibrant local branches.

Members of the GreenRoots point to the disappointing Euro election campaign where the whole of Europe as well as the rest of the UK experienced a Green Wave; yet the Scottish Greens only saw a Green ripple. The SGP campaign was fueled by a message of fear for UKIP, which seemed to be more about Nigel Farage than about the SGP candidate. This led to many activists refusing to distribute leaflets, as Green politics normally voices a message of hope and optimism.

Or the fact that membership fees, which used to be split between branches and national party, over the last two years have gone exclusively to the national party. While understanding that something had to be done to remain financially healthy, GreenRoots wonders if other solutions could have been found with wider discussion and consultation with branches and members.

Our MSPs have changed people’s lives. For example John Finnie’s huge achievement in getting legislation passed to outlaw hitting children; Ross Greer’s brilliantly successful campaign to stop a major development on the banks of Loch Lomond. No-one is criticising this work and that of our other green MSPs. In the meantime however, several branches are struggling to exist and to energise their members; even before Covid struck. The work of SGP local councillors is largely ignored by the party machine, and there is a real danger that – as in 2017 – the Party will finish the Holyrood parliamentary campaign with no money to fight the next year’s local elections.

Localism is at the core of Green philosophy. GreenRoots is a group of members who pledge to do what they can to keep that philosophy at the heart of the Party as well. They recognise that in each committee the party should put the membership central to all its decisions and that these members are the source of our strength and ability to change Scotland. The party must work for our members so that the members can work for the party.

As co-convenor of Council (and standing for re-election myself) I am not allowed to be a member of that group – but I can and do endorse its members and principles.

You can find out more about GreenRoots, our candidates, and read our blog here.

Please vote for the GreenRoots candidates, and email to register your support. Voting closes on 28th July.

The GreenRoots candidates are Scott Bevan (ordinary member Elections and Campaigns Committee), Barbra Harvie (ordinary member Finance and Fundraising Committee), Kerstin Romano (ordinary member Policy Committee), Peter McColl (ordinary member Elections and Campaigns Committee), Elaine Morrison (ordinary member Standing Orders Committee), Rhys Stenhouse (co-convenor Membership Committee).

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Image credit: Ric Lander – Creative Commons