Making it happen
There was a fizz of excitement around the first day of the Scottish Greens conference.
While fortunes and elections results have been generally on the up in recent years, the sudden surge in membership has brought an entirely different outlook.
Last year’s event at Eden Court in Inverness had about 70 delegates and even party members joked about the fact they were sharing a venue with Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell.
Now with just shy of 7,000 members the event at Napier University was full up with the 450 delegates and a waiting list of others who were unable to get in.
Perhaps Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church of Scotland’s church and society council put it best when she spoke late on in the day when she said: “I have to admit when I got here it made me tingle a little bit. It is definitely a new day.”
Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish was the day’s main draw speaking about a vision for all of Scotland post-referendum and what the legacy of 18 September should be.
But the headline news turned out to be “the big reveal” as John Finnie, the independent MSP who had dramatically quit the SNP over its policy on NATO two years before, announced he had joined the Greens.
Finnie, a Highlands and Islands regional MSP who will continue to sit as an independent MSP until 2016, was given a standing ovation by the hall as he was welcomed by co-convener Patrick Harvie.
He told Holyrood that people who knew him, would not be surprised by the news and that it had been something he had been considering for “quite a while” but didn’t want any distraction with the independence referendum approaching.
Finnie said he had always been on the left of the party and if after a Yes vote the SNP were to have ceased to be – having achieved its main aim – he would have seen himself gravitating towards the Greens. He added: “These issues haven’t gone away. “I like the Green language and I like the Green approach.”
The theme of the conference was ‘Now make it happen” and rather than dwelling on the 45/55 divide of Yes and No in the referendum, it tried to emphasise the importance of working together to improve society in Scotland tackling inequality and poverty.
As discussion centres on what powers could come to Scotland as part of The Vow, McLeish told the audience that rather than think about what things the country should have control over, the focus should be on what the vision was instead.