Aberdeen goes Green, with Maggie Chapman to become University rector

Aberdeen University students, in the city often called the ‘oil capital of Europe’, have elected a new rector: the Scottish Green Co-convener.

Elections took place from Tuesday to Thursday this week, with the results being announced on Friday midday.

The Green co-convener won the election with 1,415 votes. Her opponent, James Steel got 695 votes. Turnout was a low 15.1%, but it was around double last time’s.

Ms Chapman is the second Green party associate to take the role of rector in recent years, with the UK’s first Green parliamentarian, Robin Harper MSP (at the time), being in the position between 2005 and 2008.

Ms Chapman almost became an MEP for Scotland earlier this year, but UKIP’s David Coburn came in sixth place instead, making him Scotland’s first UKIP MEP. The Greens below the border meanwhile, gained an extra MEP, taking their total to three - three times higher than the Lib Dems on one.

Ms Chapman fought on a campaign of keeping fees free and attempting to keep accommodation prices low. On her campaign’s Facebook page she said: “I will campaign for an end to tuition fees for ALL non-Scottish domiciled students (that includes rest of the UK and international students!).”

In the campaign she beat James Steel, a lawyer in Aberdeen. No other ‘political’ candidates stood.

The role of rector is mostly symbolic, but it is that symbolism that counts for the Scottish Greens. Electing a second Green rector in the space of nine years, in the great oil and gas city of Aberdeen, is a win they will be happy about.

The Scottish Greens have done particularly well in recent months, with a recent Ipsos Mori poll putting them on potentially third place the Holyrood elections.

Their membership has spiked dramatically since the referendum, along with the SNP's. The two party’s may have lost the referendum, but they have benefited from the backlash tremendously.

Maggie Chapman’s electoral victory has two resounding effects. She will be a symbol against the oil and gas dominance in Aberdeen, and indeed Scotland, in her party’s fight more renewable energy. And additionally, perhaps her victory is a sign of things to come for the party she co-convenes. Come 2016, the Scottish Greens will certainly be making a big name for themselves.