Challenging Patrick

43149726_Harvie_222807cAs the polls close on the Scottish Greens co-convener elections, William Mohieddeen (@Mocko500) argues that Patrick Harvie’s leadership of the Scottish Greens must now come under scrutiny.

The Scottish Greens now come away from a keenly contested female co-convenership election ready to enter the Holyrood election campaign. The debate between Maggie Chapman and Zara Kitson, I believe, was healthy for the party. We have enjoyed a level of media coverage that would otherwise never have happened (like this front cover), and it has given an opportunity for all members to have a lively discussion about the values that we wish to see the party leadership espouse.

The debate will make us stronger. It doesn’t matter if it is party politics, a third sector organisation, or a multinational corporation – constant evaluation is good, and if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards.

With that in mind, for the good of the party, should Patrick Harvie seek re-election as party co-convener in 2016, he mustn’t be allowed to run unopposed again.

Harvie’s appeal as a public figure, representative of the Greens, is a very interesting one. He is undoubtedly a confident speaker, yet not immediately of a style one would expect of a political leader. His carefully considered, measured delivery; sentences which ensures any possible clarification to add to his point is covered, is more resembling of a particularly enthusiastic Glasgow University sociology lecturer, than an inspiring, up-and-at-em leader of people such as Jimmy Reid, or with the pace and flow of Nicola Sturgeon.

He is unquestionably the most visible face of the Scottish Green Party, having been thrust into prominence as the independence referendum debate progressed. An interesting caricature of him has been created: he was probably the inspiration of the famous “bairns, not bombs” slogan, his brand will definitely be the most distinctive candidate campaign of Holyrood 2016, and he commands a warm and cuddly, family friendly niceness that the Greens often get associated with (a trait exemplified in a nice little nugget by Highlands and Islands candidate Isla O’Reilly at the last Autumn conference.

However, the brand overshadows one important thing – he is a politician. For the members of the Scottish Green Party to do the party justice, we must hold to account his politics and his suitability to lead the party. We crave a plurality of ideas in Scottish politics; we would be hypocrites if we didn’t expect the same of ourselves.

The case of Harvie’s politics represents an itch that the party is struggling to ignore – we must reconcile the fundamental Green commitment to sustainability with the possibility of identifying that value as being socialist.

Despite the “contest, not a coronation” nature of the election, it was only a recent Bright Green Q&A with the 2015 co-convener hopefuls that reminded me that Patrick Harvie was actually a candidate too. The main contest on the card is of course Maggie Chapman’s and Zara Kitson’s bid to become female co-convener. Both their responses were articulate, thoughtful and visionary. Patrick’s contributions seemed very unsure, lacking direction and were underwhelming. As long as he is not challenged, he can afford to be.

I was further dismayed by his recent video address to the NUS Scotland Zone Conference. All leaders of current Holyrood parties were invited to send a short address to delegates from colleges and universities from all over Scotland. Harvie’s Green address consisted of a commitment to free education, to invest in Green jobs, and to challenge the issues of the private-rented sector. While all are sound, off-the-shelf, rhetoric, all three miss with the priorities of the student movement.

The address finds the Greens behind Scottish Labour and even the Liberal Democrats in terms of progressive education policy. The Lib Dems resonated with their policy raising the salary threshold to repay student loans from £15,000 to £21,000. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour caught the mood of the movement with ‘Green’ values like addressing Scotland’s failing performance in student drop-out, an increasingly weak student support package, the gap in widening access to education, the effects of college cuts on women, and a commitment of grant funding to looked after young people.

It’s shameful that we haven’t responded to the inspiring work of Who Cares? Scotland given our easy-sounding rhetoric of working toward a more caring, compassionate, equal society.

Kezia Dugdale also included a Labour commitment of closing the attainment gap between the rich and poor. This focus, and acknowledgment, of the gap of opportunity which exists between the socio-economically privileged and underprivileged, right now, sits very uncomfortably in the Scottish Greens despite its fit with our sustainability commitment. (All party leader addresses can be viewed here).

The gap between those politics and the politics of Patrick Harvie is exposed in the Bright Green Q&A. On whether class matters in politics, Harvie tells us “yes, but it means something very different to what it meant in previous generations”. On anti-capitalism, he says that it “isn’t enough” and the Greens are distinctive by our “willingness to explore new economic ideas”.

On socialism, while Maggie Chapman says “socialism isn’t a dirty word”, Patrick Harvie, at the 2015 South of Scotland Green Party Conference, declared “if you think we’re a socialist party, you’re very much mistaken”.

Sustainability of planet is absolutely inextricable from the sustainability of people. We understand that capitalism is allowed to thrive by an unbalanced exploitation of the riches of nature and the value of labour. We can not sustain the planet by allowing the consumption of its natural resources, such as the extraction of fossil fuels, overfishing the oceans or the industrial treatment of animals to continue as it is, in much the same way we can not sustain the wellbeing of the people while we continue to allow the most vulnerable in society to be pushed further into poverty while a minority accumulate obscene levels of wealth built on the exploitation of labour.

The vagueness and insubstantial nature of what Patrick Harvie says, and the representation of how the party would bring about the caring, compassionate and equal society has to be addressed if we are to have sights of taking the Green movement to become a considerable power in future Holyrood parliaments. The reconciliation of the Scottish Green Party with socialism must take place if we are to be able to articulate the ideas of the sustainability of people and planet, and also bring the people of Scotland with us.

If the level of accountability Patrick Harvie receives from the party continues, the leadership of the party will fail to represent fully the ideas the party generates to achieve the sustainability of people and planet, and the party will never reconcile how socialism is embedded within Green politics. For the party to progress, Patrick Harvie must face a challenge for the leadership of the Scottish Green Party.

Comments (37)

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  1. John Fullerton says:

    Interesting article that articulates many of the doubts I have as a Green Party member. I don’t personally know Mr Harvie, and have never met him and that’s my fault. While there’s nothing wrong with being well educated and ‘middle class’ – whatever that may be these days – it seems to me that to live up to its potential, the Party has to shed its image of being ‘Tories on bicycles’. The party has to be socialist, working class yet with an intellectual edge, and willing to undertake direct action/civil disobedience in its drive for a fairer, greener, non-nuclei and independent Scotland. It urgently needs a male or female version of Jimmy Reid to lead us. That, or it’s RISE.

  2. James Alexander says:

    Interesting article.
    Whilst I agree with many points and chime with John Fullerton above that the Green Party has to shed its image of being “Tories on bicycles”, (for me that includes the worried wells, the Middle Class better offs in trendy West Ends whose choice of tofu or chino bar is their biggest worry in the hierarchy of pain) the notion that this party will ever engage sufficiently with enough of the average working Scots public to take it to leadership is pie in the sky. So in essence the article while well written seems like a waste of time, a lot of sound and fury over very little.
    And PLEASE, a special plea to stop citing Jimmy Reid as the only working man in recent memory capable of articulate speech and engagability with the masses. His time has gone as have many of the motives he had for structuring his argument the way he did. RIP.

  3. Jane Kidd says:

    I am not a very active member of the green party-my membership is more about Scottish politics than the planet I have to confess. However I strongly object to an ad hominem attack like this being allowed to stand anonymously. The Editor of Bella, is not really a single person, I believe, so the article should be signed.

    1. Mike says:

      It’s got a name on it, it’s not anonymous.

    2. Its not an ad hominem attack at all and Patrick has the right to reply. The article is signed. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘The Editor of Bella is not really a single person’. Should I see a shrink?

      1. Karen says:

        Oh that made me laugh! Sweet Retort.

      2. Jane Kidd says:

        Apologies to all especially Editor. I should stop reading articles straight off the email alerts and learned the error of my ways. Gas now at a very small peep.

      3. Jane Kidd says:

        Apologies to everyone especially the Editor. I commented on the emailed article not the blog. I see my mistake, gas now at a very small peep.

  4. Moira Dunworth says:

    The author’s points might be better made with more careful proof-reading before publication. All politicians must be accountable – to their constituents and to their Party but what does it mean for Mr Harvie to ‘receive’ accountability ‘from the Party’?

    There are several other errors which detract from the meaning of the piece. So, before challenging the considered nature of Mr Harvie’s statements, it might be helpful to consider the wording of your own.

    1. Anne Greene says:

      Hollow pedantry in place of a meaningful response? From Moira Dunworth? Surely not!

      1. Ben says:

        It’s not pedantic to point out that writing is unintelligible. Especially when it is criticising the way someone else expresses themselves:
        “His carefully considered, measured delivery; sentences which ensures any possible clarification to add to his point is covered, is more resembling of a particularly enthusiastic Glasgow University sociology lecturer…”

      2. Moira Dunworth says:

        Do you understand all of it Anne?

        What about : “While all are sound, off-the-shelf, rhetoric, all three miss with the priorities of the student movement.” Eh?

        I think this is written by a Higher Education student. I could be wrong and would not want to tar all HE students with the same brush of poor communication skills, to say the least, so I won’t comment on that.

        What is ‘hollow’ is the attack on Mr Harvie.

        Thanks to Ben for quoting one of the other examples of patent nonsense.

  5. Drew Campbell says:

    I feel like I should defend Patrick, but against what? I take the point about no challenge might tempt complacency – that’s human nature – but the evidence presented here is a little threadbare.

    Do Green policies need development – damn right! And in several areas too. Is that down to Patrick? Partly, but my experience of him is that he works very democratically in a very democratic party and policy development requires time, money, research, thought and discussion otherwise you end up with the kind of half-arsed drivel on “restoring tax credits” currently being pitched by Labour.

    Should there be a debate in the party about core values? Aboslutely. We’ve gone from about 1,300 members in early 2014 members to (I understand) around 9,000 now. That’s transformational. Post-referendum the focus was on developing our capacity to involve those members and to try to harness the energy towards the General Election, and now we’re in the throes of building up to the 2016 Holyrood elections… then it’ll be the council elections, the European referendum, maybe another war…

    It will be a challenge, to say the least, to conduct such a debate in that context but I agree it’s in the air and it would be healthy to make space for it in the midst of this. I appreciate this article is probably an attempt to stimulate that debate over core values but if it is to be run in the conducted of a leadership contest then, frankly, I’ve yet to see the emergence of anyone resembling a “Jimmy Reid” who might have the chops to do a better job than Patrick of representing, articulating and leading the Scottish Greens.

    As regards quoting his “we are not a socialist party” statement, I think that’s an interesting starting point. There are plenty who’ve wrapped themselves in the scarlet banner over the years – from Joe Stalin to Tony Benn, or more pertinently John Maclean to Tommy Sheridan – but as we’ve learned through bitter experience bold rhetoric and grand gestures guarantee nothing about integrity, intentions or even humanity.

    Greens are committed to creating a more balanced, egalitarian and humane society, and achieving that not just through democracy but BY democracy. The paternalistic, top-down socialist models typical of Old Labour and in the more extreme versions of Eastern Europe failed because that system concentrates power in too few hands – just like modern capitalism. It cannot win against capitalism because it lacks the dynamic to accommodate fast-moving change. That’s why the no doubt sincere yet leaden-footed Corbyn cannot seem to articulate his deeply held values into a vision relevant to the 21st century world.

    For me the key tenet of achieving a Green society is about de-centralising and devolving power to as local a level as possible. However well-intentioned it may have started out, 20th century socialism never empowered people sufficently to make decisions and take responsibility for their own communities. Yes, there was significant redistribution of wealth over several decades and I salute that achievement, but Thatcher and her heirs grasped that wealth could be reclaimed by the powerful by deploying language of “freedom, patriotism and choice”. That’s why we’re where we are now.

    Redistributing wealth is essential, but redistributing power is far more valuable in the long run – and much harder for the powerful to take back. Technology and grass roots activism is making that democratic, localised empowerment an ever more viable possibility. Patrick Harvie seems to grasp that possibility and hold to that core principle more robustly than any other politician in Scotland – and he articulates it well.

    I’m not saying this out of personal loyalty or blind worship of a leader. If there’s someone out there who thinks they can do better, then I’m all ears. Sooner or later we will want someone who can take over that role. I just hope whoever it is has similar intelligence and integrity, and can at least meet the very high standards he has set.

    1. Anne Greene says:

      “The paternalistic, top-down socialist models typical of Old Labour and in the more extreme versions of Eastern Europe failed because that system concentrates power in too few hands – just like modern capitalism. It cannot win against capitalism because it lacks the dynamic to accommodate fast-moving change. That’s why the no doubt sincere yet leaden-footed Corbyn cannot seem to articulate his deeply held values into a vision relevant to the 21st century world.”

      That is not the only kind of Socialism.

      1. Drew Campbell says:

        Well aware there are other models of socialist ideas, Anne, and indeed libertarian socialism contains many positive ideas I admire. I was simply pointing out in response to the original piece that declaring yourself to be a socialist or a socialist party does not in itself act as any guarantor of morality, success or even fairness.

        I’m sure you’re aware Greens’ literature strongly features co-operatives, workers’ representation and common ownership in the underpinning philosophy to democratise society. As far as I and many other Greens are concerned, the most effective change we can bring to society is to enact policies that ensure the empowerment of people in communities and in the workplace, introducing responsibility for budgets, delivery and management of as many aspects of our lives as possible.

        That’s not libertarian socialism, true enough, but it is a viable, positive vision that could be achieved in our lifetimes, and that most people can understand and relate to in the context of society as they see around them at present.

  6. James Alexander says:

    @Drew Campbell – your comments about how we are now living with the fallout of Socialism and Thatcherism are spot on. Thank you for such an articulate and humane reply.

  7. Steven says:

    Not really sure what the point of this article is? “he mustn’t be allowed to run unopposed again.”

    Well of this bothers you that much then challenge him for the post. Why didn’t you put yourself forward? All members can put themselves forward for posts. What should be done? Forcing people to put their name forward?

    Patrick is but one person, I think a fantastic one, but one person nevertheless. He is also not the ‘leader’.

    The conversation of the greens being exclusively middle class doesn’t ring true with me and have usually found this something that people (media) who aren’t active say.

    As for the slur of Tories on bikes, this sounds ridiculous if you examine the policies.

    1. Audrey Mac says:

      I totally agree John. It strikes me that the author is not familiar enough with Patrick Harvie, and should seek out more of his writing and media appearances. To my mind the 3rd last para could have been written by PH, and I’ll try to find some clips to share.
      After the election has closed is not the time to analyse his ‘leadership’. It seems noone was concerned enough to challenge him, and remember in the ballot he must have more approval ratings that not – so he will be ratified by members.
      The position is co-convenor, and as such, both could be expected to bring different things to the role. As I see it, maybe a fellow co-co who is able to be as high profile as PH would ‘share the load’ and allow more time and scope for getting the message out there and honing policy.
      I DO hope Bella will allow Patrick the right of reply.
      Also look up the big debates that were on bbc2, big oil debate, big poverty debate etc…

      1. Audrey Mac says:

        Oops, obv I meant: totally agree Steven!!

  8. John Fullerton says:

    Many good points, thank you, Drew Campbell. Dead right about devolution of power.
    Tories on bikes wasn’t meant as a ‘slur’. It was a term used by the dustbin men and other workers in Brighton where the (English) Greens have implemented cuts and job losses. It was intended to illustrate the feeling – my feeling – that there’s something elitist about the Greens. Maybe I’m wrong.

    1. Frank says:

      The Greens do appear to suffer from poor leadership. The recent General Election is a good example, and quite why they chose the woeful Natalie Bennett as the public face of their the campaign and not Caroline Lucas is beyond me. I also fear that with Patrick Harvie at the helm in Scotland they may suffer a similar fate in Scotland. I’m sure he’s a decent bloke but he fails to make an impact. He reminds of the Churchill quote on Atlee, that an empty taxi pulled up and out stepped Atlee, or words to that effect.

      In all honesty the Greens are a mixed bag and the Tories on bicycles quote struck a chord. For example, the Green councillor in Midlothian – Ian Baxter – has voted through millions of pounds worth of cuts in the Council’s budget and his voting record includes closing community centres and libraries (in deprived communities), cuts to the voluntary sector, slashing hundreds of council jobs, and charging the elderly for their telecare. And that’s the problem when you vote Green you are never sure exactly what you are getting…

      1. Ian Baxter says:

        I really must respond to this utter nonsense. It’s the line put out continually by Labour in Midlothian and is a lie. For the record, I voted with Labour to support keeping community centres and libraries open in the community when the new Newbattle hub was debated. One Labour councillor voted with SNP. Slashing hundreds of jobs? Where? We have a no-compulsory redundancy policy.

        Interesting that Frank mentions telecare – it’s an obsession with Labour in Midothian, so perhaps Frank could reveal his Labour connection? And while he’s at it, perhaps he could explain why the Labour group on Midlothian council hasn’t put forward a balanced budget since 2012, so we could scrutinise what it would cut instead?

        1. Frank says:

          Ian, for the record I am a member of no political party, but this is utterly irrelevant. You proposed closing 9 public buildings in three towns and were only stopped because of mass opposition. Earlier this year, you voted through a massive cut in grants to Midlothian’s voluntary sector, a cut that will lead to many job losses. Council officers suggested a 17% cut, yet you voted through a cut double that. And you did support charging for telecare. The no-redundancy policy you mentioned protects some individuals by allowing them to leave early or go into the Council’s switch system, but jobs are not being replaced in the Council as you well know. How else can you explain the fact that across Scotland over 50 thousand jobs have been lost?

          However, without getting into specific arguments about which cuts you have made, my general point is this – as a councillor you have propped up an administration in Midlothian which has approved millions of pounds worth of cuts, cuts which have disproportionately hit the poorest. These are public facts Ian, and how you deal with that is between you and your conscience.

          However, I would suggest that for a councillor to vote for cuts, whilst being a member of a political party which claims to be anti-austerity leaves you wide open to charges of hypocrisy.

          1. Ian Baxter says:

            Frank – yes, I’ve ‘propped up’ an SNP administration as you say, I make no apologies for that, in the face of a Labour opposition unable or unwilling to offer alternatives, and unwilling to even talk to me. In return I have achieved some things (like the abolition of music tuition charges). However, I have not “proposed closing 9 public buildings in three towns”. The cuts to Midlothian Voluntary Sector grants were something I certainly didn’t want to happen, but the council simply had no choice but to cut spending in the face of draconian cuts to Scottish Government grants and a council tax freeze, which I’ve consistently opposed. So how do you think we should balance the budget???

            The problem for me has been that the Labour group will not present a balance budget and simply opposes whatever the Administration proposes. Their path would lead to councillors being removed from office and the council run by unelected administrators – I cannot support that.

            Incidentally, I have been trying to find out who you are – can you email me at my council email address (on Midlothian council web site)? I’d really like to discuss all this face to face – I don’t think accusing me of hypocrisy when perhaps you don’t understand the realities is at all constructive. I’d be happy to meet up and explain the severe constraints all councillors face – and perhaps you will accept that I’m trying to get the best deal for Midlothian residents in the most difficult of circumstances.

        2. Frank says:


          As I said before, I don’t want to go into detail about the specific cuts you have voted for. Personally, if I were a councillor, I would rather resign than vote through a 30 odd per cent cut to the voluntary sector’s budget. The Hippocratic Oath – ‘do no harm’, should also apply to political morality?

          You are also right about the Labour Party in Midlothian. Absolute hypocrites. Every single one of them, which is why I was angry when you accused me of being one of them. I remember Labour councillors voting through cut after cut, including cuts that closed the community centre and library, and to see them criticise the SNP is hypocrisy of the worst kind. But my point is this. It doesn’t matter who controls a council – Labour, the SNP and now by your own admission the Greens (there goes my second vote on the list next year!), the result is cuts, cuts and more cuts. And on this point I do understand the realities of what is going on. Local government in Scotland is highly dysfunctional. In fact it is a misnomer to even call it ‘government’; what’s really in place is a top down system of administration, which is tightly controlled from the centre and procedurally controlled by over-paid bureaucrats. Councillors like yourself are in office but not in power, and your role is to take public responsibility for decisions elsewhere. This as you know is by design and not default.

          But in all honesty I say this Ian: when it comes to the question of cuts why not let Labour and the SNP make Tory cuts. They after all are Scotland’s establishment parties. The Greens should be different. You could have voted against cuts, or even issued a public statement saying you were voting for cuts but under protest. Instead of saying to Midlothian’s voluntary sector, ‘sorry I had to vote for a 30 odd per cent cut in your grant, there’s no alternative’, you could have called on them to protest. And I say this – had they done so the cuts might not have been as severe? In fact, the initial proposal was to cut the budget by 17% but then it jumped to 30 odd per cent. Why? A senior council officer said to me that the voluntary sector had been fooled into going down a route which Council bureaucrats call co-production (i.e. devolving the axe), when they should have fought back publicly.

          And that could have been your role; to encourage groups to fight back; to expose publicly the fraud that is local government and to highlight at every turn the democratic deficit. Instead, I’m afraid you have chosen the managerial route of administrating austerity rather than challenging it.

          1. Ian Baxter says:

            Frank – my apologies for implying your connection with the Labour Party.

            I have continually protested against the cuts (and specifically the council tax freeze). However, I believe it is also a moral imperative that a balanced budget is set – we don’t like the rules and would certainly change them if in government, but councils tried that in the ’80s and it was a dismal failure. it effectively leads to council officers setting the budget, over which elected councillors have no power at all. Is that preferable? Is that not ‘administering austerity’ in its purest form?

            I did not support the SNP/Ind administration’s proposals for the 2014/15 budget and, discovering that the Labour group did not intend to produce a balanced budget, drew up my own ( If this had been implemented, we could now have had a renewable income stream to offset or remove the need for further cuts altogether. Now that subsidies are being cut drastically, that opportunity may now be lost.

            The cuts to council income have only just started – Midlothian will need to find millions more in the next few years. In common with all my fellow Green councillors (across the UK), I am trying to work within the system imposed on us to at least influence it. You mentioned community facilities in deprived areas – the proposal from the SNP was to keep them open and provide new ones at the Newbattle community hub. The community said they would prefer to just keep the ones they had, as they understandably believed the council would later use the new facilities as an excuse to close them. I agreed with this and was concerned at the extra £600,000 annual burden on council finances.

            I’m at a loss to understand what you are expecting me and other Green councillors to do. Whichever party you vote for next year will be highly constrained in what it does – except perhaps those who would just end up being surcharged and barred from public office for acting illegally.



        3. Frank says:

          Ian, I think these exchanges highlight two things for me. Firstly, confirmation of something that I already knew – namely that local democracy is as dead as the dodo in Scotland. I genuinely find it worrying and sad in equal measures that Councillors like yourself are having to vote for fiscal policies that you do not believe in (perhaps you could put that on your next election leaflet?). Joke! Yet, the room for manoeuvre that you have as an individual Green councillor might be greater than you think? As I said in a previous reply, you could have let the establishment parties set an austerity budget.

          As for the debate about community facilities – you are right, the Council wanted to centralise all facilities in one high school, which would have been a disaster in my view and the move was rightly opposed by community campaigners. Incidentally, the Council has been doing this for many years, and this policy cannot be blamed exclusively on austerity. I find it a strange anomaly that next door East Lothian has over twenty community centres, whilst Midlothian has one? I am also not convinced when you describe keeping swimming pools, community centres, leisure centres open – as an annual burden – is a wise choice of words.

          You mention the 1980s and the ‘dismal failure’ of local government to challenge the Tories. The reality is more complex and problematic. At the very least some local authority’s attempted to defy central government; an interesting book, written by two academics Diane Frost and Peter North (one is a sociologist the other a geographer and neither connected to the Militant Tendency!) is Militant Liverpool, a City on the Edge. What’s worrying today is the complete lack of resistance even at rhetorical level. This perhaps illustrates the success of neoliberalism in local government. One of the reasons why neoliberalism has been successful, and why it has survived the financial crisis, is that it is put into practice by people who oppose it. The implications for democracy are indeed worrying.

          Anyway, thanks for engaging in the debate/discussion.

  9. deewal says:

    The Green Party are a UK Party and do not want Scotland to be Independent.
    We have already got three Parties that are UK parties and I personally don’t want to see anymore.

    Scotland needs a Government with a majority of Independence seeking parties. Anything less puts Independence further away and out of sight.

    So it’s a no to the Greens from me.

    1. Anne Greene says:

      The Scottish Greens are a separate party from the Green Party of England and Wales. The Scottish Greens campaigned for independence and are still in favour.

    2. Brian Candeland says:

      Deewal, The Scottish Green Party are a completely separate entity from the England and Wales Green Party, and both support Scottish Independence.

    3. Lynsey says:

      I would add that the organisational structure of the Greens of E&W is different – they have one leader, we have two co-conveners – and not only is the Scottish Green party in favour of indy but they announced support of a future referendum not long ago as well as crowdfunding research into an independent currency for Scotland.

  10. Fiona Morag Grahame says:

    Interesting article which demonstrates how much Scottish politics is currently in love with the cult of personality. I am extremely pleased that Maggie Chapman has been elected as co convener and I hope that she will get a more prominent role from henceforth. The Scottish Greens have not yet come to terms with their surge in membership with party structures,branch formation, membership engagement and policy development all in dire need of strengthening. The Scottish Greens are also struggling to understand how they can address the needs of not just people on low incomes but also those who live outside the central belt. Until they develop a more effective way of involving the wider membership they will not be able to make the break through in 2016 that Scotland would benefit from.

  11. Clootie says:

    Strange how many Greens attack the “cult of personality”. People will follow a leader who builds a shared vision. You need a leader who can appear on television and sell the party to gain votes.
    Tell me of a successful business or organisation that doesn’t have a “people person” at the helm.
    You may not like the idea of a leader or of selling your party on TV but it is the way of the world.
    Nothing gets done without a strong leader.
    The Greens appear more interested in how things are done instead of what gets done.
    Patrick has done a great job for the Greens and Scotland.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “Patrick has done a great job for the Greens and Scotland.”

      For the Greens, 63 votes in Dunfermline North and 51 in Rosyth at cooncil by-elections the other night tell a different story.

      Out of curiousity, what has he done for Scotland?

      1. Steve West says:

        We came in third in the recent Leith Walk byelection with 1381 votes (21.8%). Just pipped by Labour for second place.

  12. Piotr says:

    Leadership is important.

    However it is unrealistic to expect fully-formed policy on all matters from a young, modestly resourced political party with only two MSP’s and a shaky representational track record as in: ‘are we in parliament or are we not?’.

    In any democratic party, and most certainly in a party like the Scottish Green party that proclaims a strong democratic ethos, it is better that policy is not just the prerogative of the leadership.

    Developing policies with broad electoral appeal is expensive, time-consuming and resource hungry. It requires internal debate and external engagement. For the SGP, which must aspire to become a distinctive and mainstream party, (otherwise, why bother?), this is very particular and sharp challenge.

    Just now the party is young, impecunious and in places somewhat fuzzy. No harm in that. The aspiration is clear enough: to live in peace, equity and, most crucially, in a sustainable way. The electorate understands this much. It looks likely, if the opinion polls are to be believed, that this is enough to reward the party with increased representation in the Scottish parliament in 2016.

    If this happens the party will have an excellent and exciting opportunity to exercise political influence, develop trust with the electorate, gain membership, become a fixture on the political landscape and develop a broader portfolio of sharper, more clearly defined policies that resonate with the public.

    This will be a wonderful and welcome foundation for any leadership.

    As to the itch that dare not speak its name (socialism), scratching this little sore in public could end up being an obsessive act of self harm and a distraction with little appeal.

    Surely a more sensible and attractive way forward is for Scottish Greens to find and develop their own distinctive Green voice, taking freely, perhaps with acknowledgement, from all that have something to offer.

  13. Mhari morrison says:

    I watch Mr harvie on fmqs , he never talks of issues in Glasgow, many folk I know feel as Glasgow residents he does not represent poorer folk, they never canvass our high flats, but do go to the better areas .the activists I see are always hanging about the Gaelic school , the elite to court! In short they do not represent the workers , but are in truth a middle class protest vote

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