Grassroots democracy will be central to the Scottish Green Party’s future success
It’s not easy being Green. In a single brush of words you can be painted as a radical intent on bringing an end to the world as we know it, and a middle-class fantasist who has no understanding of the plight of working people – both or either discrediting you before you’ve had a chance to put our case across.
Thankfully, neither of those statements are entirely correct. Not the radical part – I and most Scottish Greens believe that a fundamental system change is needed (and soon) – that’s entirely true. But who and what the cause of the impending apocalypse is is wide of the mark. Opposition leaders are pointing fingers at the do-gooders and “tree huggers”, while increasingly far-right and authoritarian governments, and the uber-wealthy, drive us closer to the edge of the cliff of environmental disaster.
As we stare down into that abyss, we need to be offering an alternative – an ecosocialist alternative – to as many people, in as many communities as we can across Scotland.
Although the Scottish Greens are increasingly performing well enough in the polls, we cannot afford to get complacent. Our current trajectory could easily see us easily sit back on our laurels, spending all of our time pointing to our achievements as part of the establishment, instead of talking about how it needs to be dismantled and the work that still needs to be done.
Having Green MSPs in government with the SNP at Holyrood has delivered some excellent wins. Tenants are better protected, companies applying for public money must pay at least the real living wage and provide representation for workers, and taxes on Scotland’s highest earners have gone up. From the opposition benches it was easier to make substantive calls for free bus travel for under 21s. Now, the real test is to see if Greens can make real progress in areas such as making public transport more affordable for everyone else.
The Scottish Greens, as is the case with all Green parties, should be the party of the future. We should be the party of young people. The party of our planet. The party of jobs and workers. To live up to these expectations, we must work harder and bring our members with us as we look to build bases of power beyond Holyrood.
This summer Scottish Green Party members have an opportunity to choose the direction the party wants to go in as we look forward to Holyrood 2026 and beyond. I am running to be the co-convener of the Scottish Greens’ Elections and Campaigns Committee because I believe that every member, in every one of our branches, should be involved in setting our priorities. It is time to return to the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ philosophy.
It is ordinary members in every corner of Scotland who have delivered our electoral success thus far. The principle of grassroots democracy and a respect for diversity must be at the core of everything we do, and to get back to that, we must have a volunteer-led approach to our elections and campaigns.
If elected I will commit to working with and visiting every one of our branches and representative groups – putting our members’ voices front and centre of our work, ensuring that no individual or part of our party feels left behind.
As co-convener of the party’s Trade Union Group, I have led efforts to bring less traditionally Green voices into the party’s structures, using our newly-won seats on National Council and Executive to champion workers. With ECC, it is pivotal that we harness the potential of everyone within our party – including those whose views are often marginalised.
Bringing Green wins closer to home, and showcasing the successes of our brilliant councillors across the country must also be a priority, highlighting why Green representation is key, and what we can do with more in council chambers throughout Scotland. Those areas who are currently without an MSP or councillor should not, however, be forgotten. I would prioritise working with those branches as we go into elections in 2026 and 2027.
Finally, tying campaigning and training together is key as we build our capacity and skills in the years ahead. A series of national action days should be planned, bringing together our largest bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh with branches that are currently further afield. Sharing our understanding of different parts of Scotland would only deepen our existing knowledge, and for the less experienced among our membership it could be the first step in nurturing a new generation of Green voices.
Being a party of government traditionally means undergoing a centralising, deradicalisation exercise – something that we’ve sadly seen to an extent ourselves, devaluing our members’ voices. But I believe that by having a strong team of dedicated volunteers, complemented by staff and elected representatives, we can put the Scottish Greens in the strongest position possible to fight all upcoming elections and walk away with our best ever results.
Niall Christie (he/him) is a member of the Scottish Greens and a nominee to be co-convener of the party’s elections and campaigns committee. Voting opens on July 19th.
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Image credit: Ric Lander – Creative Commons