THE Scottish Green Party is looking forward to its biggest conference ever following “an extraordinary flood of new members” in the wake of the independence referendum.
The pro-independence party’s membership more than tripled from about 1,700 to over 6,000 in the wake of the No vote in the referendum and about 450 members are registered to attend the sold-out conference in Edinburgh this weekend.
The Greens now have around half as many members of Scottish Labour or the Scottish Conservatives.
The Greens’ co-convenors will also take part in the Smith Commission, looking at further devolution to Scotland, and will lodge submissions to the commission in advance of the party’s conference.
Councillor Maggie Chapman, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said: “The Scottish Greens ran a positive and forward-looking campaign in the run-up to the referendum.
“Although many of us were disappointed by the result, we were proud of the vision of Scotland based on hope and creativity that we presented.
“This has been followed by an extraordinary flood of new members, beyond anything we could have imagined.
“For the first time in our history we have Green members in every corner of Scotland, many of whom are experienced campaigners who worked hard on the doorsteps during the referendum.
“With them on board, we are now in an excellent position to contest the forthcoming UK general election as a springboard to elect many more Greens to Holyrood in 2016, and to local councils across the country the year after that.
“This conference will also be the best-attended in our history, with speakers including former Labour first minister Henry McLeish and representatives from Oxfam, Business for Scotland, Cosla, Unison, the Church of Scotland and others.
“We will also decide on policy positions for the party, including opposition to the war in Iraq, raising the minimum wage to £10 and public ownership of our transport systems.
“It’s fair to say there’s never been more interest in the Scottish Greens’ agenda and we are expecting a weekend of vigorous debates on policy and strategy, as well as looking forward to starting the process of getting to know our new members.”
Sally Foster Fulton, convener of the Church and Society Council of The Church of Scotland, who will address conference on Saturday, said: “The political energy unleashed by the referendum is unprecedented and offers civic Scotland a renewed opportunity to work towards the Scotland imagined during this time of discernment.
“I look forward to sharing time at the Green Party conference, exploring ways to bring a fairer future forward for those who find themselves trapped in an unequal economic system.
“A Scotland within the United Kingdom is the vision we have chosen for ourselves.
“As we walk into that future, we must do all we can to ensure the future includes our most vulnerable citizens.”