FORMER LABOUR first minister Henry McLeish will call on the Scottish Green Party to harness their energy and engagement in the independence referendum to build a consensus on more powers for Scotland.
In an address to the Scottish Green conference in Edinburgh on Saturday, Mr McLeish will urge the party to turn their “clear and determined” support for independence towards resolving “the many questions that need to be answered about what further powers can be devolved to Scotland”.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone welcomed Mr McLeish’s pending visit to conference, insisting “his commitment to radical devolution is second to none”.
Mr McLeish said: “It’s a great time to be addressing the Scottish Green Party conference, just as the party has played such a prominent role in the referendum campaign, albeit on the opposite side of the debate to me.
“I know many Greens also campaigned for a No vote, and many will have found it a hard decision to make.
“Nevertheless, whichever way you voted, this has been an extraordinary period in Scottish politics, with extraordinarily detailed and passionate debates taking place in homes, bars, workplaces and everywhere else across the country.
“I have never seen a level of political engagement like this, not even during the debate ahead of the 1997 devolution referendum.
“Given the many questions that need to be answered about what further powers can be devolved to Scotland, and about how the relationships between Scotland and the rest of the UK need to be restructured, we urgently need that energy and engagement to continue.
“The Green campaign for independence was clear and determined, and I have confidence that they will now make a strong case for those positions through the Smith Commission process.
“We need to build a consensus on the legacy of the referendum vote and on the way forward.
“This is now a time for reaching out to all parties and to the people of Scotland. They had their say in the referendum and now they want and deserve their say in the future. I am also looking forward to discussions before and after with the Scottish Greens’ membership, both old and new.”
Ms Johnstone said: “Henry McLeish has been one of the most significant voices in the independence debate, and his commitment to radical devolution is second to none.
“We’re over the moon to be able to welcome him to this, the largest ever Scottish Green Party conference, to hear what he has to say about where the debate about Scotland’s future goes next, and for him to take part in the discussions about the role of the Scottish Greens in that process.
“The referendum may be over, but the last-minute promises from the Westminster parties mean the debate is not even close to complete.
“We went into the referendum campaign seeking bold new ideas on dignity in welfare, radical decentralisation of power, the levers which would allow a new kind of economy to flourish; and that is what we still seek through the Smith Commission and beyond.
“Greens will play a constructive part on the Commission, seeking both to make the argument for the radical devolution the Scottish people were promised, and to involve the wider public in those discussions rather than seeing this become yet another politician-only zone.”