The Scottish Green Party today quashed claims it has walked out on pro-independence campaign ‘Yes Scotland’, insisting suggestions of a withdrawal were premature.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme earlier today, Alison Johnstone MSP – one of two Greens elected to the Scottish Parliament last year – played down weekend newspaper reports the party has snubbed the campaign amid claims the SNP has seized complete control.
Yesterday’s reports came a little over two weeks after Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie appeared at a pro-independence campaign launch in Edinburgh together with First Minister Alex Salmond.
Opposition parties last night leapt on the suggested split as evidence of disarray within the pro-independence movement ahead of the expected referendum vote in autumn 2014.
However, Harvie and his fellow MSP inside Holyrood have asserted newspaper reports of a u-turn emerged before the party even had an opportunity to formally join, a decision that will not be discussed until their national conference in four months time.
Green MSP for Lothian Johnstone said: “I think it’s overstating the case to say that we’ve walked away from the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign. We have not.
“The party hasn’t reviewed or reversed any decision. The party hasn’t actually made a decision yet. National Party Council met a week past Saturday and we had hoped to go to the meeting with details of what our working relationship within the campaign might look like, but that’s still to be worked out so the decision was taken, a unanimous decision, that we would wait until national party conference, which takes place on the 6 October, and make a decision then so we could have a democratic discussion between as many of our members as possible.”
Today’s clarification nonetheless came against a backdrop of concerns within the party over inclusiveness of the campaign with Harvie yesterday insisting the Scottish Greens “don’t want to end up simply cheerleading for the SNP”, intimating members could opt to help shape another pro-independence referendum campaign.
Johnstone added: “It’s absolutely the case that the SNP have the mandate, they have the cash and they have the people. But we’d really like to set an inclusive tone now at the earliest stage possible in the campaign. We certainly want to see a broad, participative and inclusive approach.
“To be honest, I think everybody in Scotland should have a say and I’m very hopeful that the SNP will widen out the campaign and it will become an inclusive campaign. We’re just saying that we’d really like to see that happening now because for this campaign to succeed it’s going to have to go well beyond party politics and reach out to groups across civic Scotland.
“It simply can’t remain within the political bubble. It’s not enough for the SNP and the greens to take this campaign forward. We need all political parties that are supportive of independence and all groups within Scottish society to be involved.”
The Scottish Green Party conference takes place on 6 and 7 October at Maryhill Burgh Halls in Glasgow.