Lorna Slater speaking at the Scottish Greens spring conference

Lorna Slater has said the “mission” of the Scottish Greens is to “shatter the status quo that is killing our planet”. The Scottish Green Party’s co-leader made the comments at the party’s spring conference in Glasgow.

In her keynote address, she told attendees: “In May 2021, 220,000 people across Scotland voted for the Scottish Greens – a record number of green voters – putting us into Government for the first time, making history here and across the UK.

“When those 220,000 voters put their trust in us, they did so because they wanted change. They wanted a Scotland that puts people and planet over profit, that embraces diversity and rejects bigotry.

“They wanted the Scottish Greens to be disruptors, to shatter the status quo that is killing our planet, deepening inequality and stifling progress. Conference, that is our mission.”

Like her fellow co-leader Patrick Harvie, she also used her speech to make the case for the Greens’ role in the Scottish Government. After talking about the Greens’ record on environmental protection in government, Slater went on to argue that without the Green ministers, “there would be no one standing strong for our environment”. She said: “There can be no doubt that without Scottish Greens in government and without the Bute House Agreement, there would be no one standing strong for our environment.

“Without Greens in the room where it happens, without Greens pushing every day in government and in parliament, the progress we need would not happen.

“Critical policies would be deprioritised, watered down, delayed, under-resourced. And that’s why we need to be in the room. That is what you and we have been working so hard to achieve all these years.”

But Slater went on to discuss the future of the Scottish Greens in government. She said the Greens wouldn’t stay in government “at any cost”. She told the conference: “Conference, it has been an honour and a privilege to serve in the Scottish Government on behalf of the Scottish Greens, and alongside the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Her integrity, compassion, and leadership have been an inspiration to us all.

“In just a few days SNP members will select their new leader. It is their choice that they must make.

“We have a choice we must make too. On Monday at a special council meeting, the Scottish Green Parliamentary Group will take advice from our party on who to vote for as First Minister. We will, together, choose whether we want to continue in Government.

She continued: “Conference, we have unfinished business. I want us to stay in Government and see through the change we have begun. But not at any cost.

“We will never be a party that is prepared to put our principles to one side. We will only vote for the SNP’s new Leader to become First Minister if they are committed to the politics of cooperation, if they respect and share our values of equality and environmentalism, if they will prioritise climate justice and if they agree that trans rights are human rights and that our trans siblings cannot be used as political fodder by Westminster.

“These are fundamental issues for us. They are non-negotiable.”

“If the next First Minister shares these values then we would not just remain in government, we should redouble our efforts to build a fairer, greener, and independent Scotland.

“But we are, first and foremost, true to ourselves and committed to delivering change. We will put ourselves in the place where we can best achieve this.

“If that is in opposition to an SNP Government that has lost its way, abandoning its commitments to cooperation, equality and environmental progress then so be it.

“With regret, that is where we would go. Because Scottish Greens will always work for people and for planet, and you can’t do that in partnership with a First Minister who has already set themselves in opposition to both.”

The SNP leadership election will conclude on March 27.

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Image credit: Scottish Greens YouTube