Scottish Green Party conference round-up

John Finnie

The Scottish Greens' conference took place this weekend, with the major story that John Finnie, former SNP MSP, has joined the party

John Finnie was an SNP member of the Scottish parliament, having been elected in 2011. However, he left the SNP in 2012 over its policy to remain in Nato, in the event of an independent Scotland.

Since then he has stayed in parliament as an independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands region, until this weekend when Patrick Harvie, one of the Scottish Green co-conveners, introduced him onto the stage as the latest addition to the Scottish Green Party.

However, Mr. Finnie will not become the Greens' third MSP and will instead serve out the remainder of his term as an independent.

As well as introducing the new addition to the Scottish Green team, the conference also saw the number of members of the party break the 7000 mark. Since the Scottish independence referendum, in which the Scottish Greens advocated a 'yes' vote, the party has seen a surge in membership, almost quadrupling it.

What this move, by John Finnie, as well as the increase in membership, shows is that the party is seeing a massive increase in popularity. Its allies in the campaign for an independent Scotland, the SNP, have also seen a massive boost in membership since the 'Yes' campaign. The SNP now have over 80,000 members, making it the third largest party, in terms of membership, in the entire United Kingdom.

Speaking to the Guardian, the 57-year-old said: "The policies the Green party have are exactly what we need at this time." He then attacked the inequality of the United Kingdom, emphasising on economics, health and fuel, before saying that the Green approach was different to that of the other parties.

Since the referendum result, in which Scotland voted ‘no’ 55%-45%, the political landscape north of the border has radically changed.

The leaders of the pro-independence parties have accepted the loss in the referendum, but this surge in support for the Greens and the SNP, demonstrates that the fire is still burning in the heart of the cause for independence.

The Scottish Greens are gaining an unprecedented momentum, which could have implications in the 2016 Scottish parliamentary election.

A recent Panelbase poll put the Greens on track to win nine seats in the next Holyrood election. Such an outcome would be two better than the seven seats the party had between 2003 and 2007 - in the so-called 'rainbow parliament'.

Meanwhile, south of the border, the Greens are also gaining momentum. According to the Green Party of England and Wales’ website, Natalie Bennett’s party has seen an increase of 45% in this year alone. On the 3rd of October, the party passed the 20,000 membership mile-stone and in 2014, the Young Greens, the youth wing of the party, has seen a 100% increase in membership.

Overall, across the UK, it is clear that the Green movement is seeing a massive surge. John Finnie joining the Greens, and growing membership in Scotland, will probably help the party in 2016. If the party fairs well and the SNP fall short of a majority government then a coalition between the pro-independence parties could be formed.

But until then we will just have to wait and see, observing the Green surge.