Politicians are doing a great disservice to voters if they focus on a second independence referendum during the current council elections campaign, the Scottish Greens have said.
The party – which last month allowed the minority SNP government to win a vote at Holyood vote on another referendum – published its manifesto yesterday for the 4 May local elections in which it is fielding a record 218 candidates.
They will campaign for smaller class sizes in schools, for care workers to be paid a “living wage plus” of £9.20 an hour, and for cheaper and frequent local bus services. Other priorities will be building more affordable, energy-efficient housing and protecting green spaces in communities.
Theresa May has called on Scottish voters to use the local government ballot to send the SNP a “clear message’’ on the constitution.
The Prime Minister said her party is ‘’looking forward to the local elections in May, when voters across Scotland will have the chance to send a clear message to the SNP that they do not want a second independence referendum, by voting Scottish Conservative and Unionist’’.
Green council candidate Allan Faulds hit out at her approach, saying: “This is an election about local issues. I think the parties that are trying to make it about constitutional issues are doing their constituents a great disservice.”
Mr Faulds, a candidate in the Victoria Park ward in Glasgow, added that “very, very few people” he meets on the doorsteps are raising the prospect of a second referendum.
He was speaking as Green co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman joined council candidates for the manifesto launch in Glasgow.
Mr Harvie said: “Green councillors can do so much more to revitalise and renew local democracy in Scotland and make it really mean what it should mean, putting power into people’s hands.
“That’s the core of our campaign, we don’t want local politics to be something people feel is done to them, we want it to be something that empowers people to make their own communities better places.”
Labour’s environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish MSP said: “The Scottish Greens offer nothing but empty promises.
“Patrick Harvie’s party’s commitment to making the richest in our society pay their fair share has been ditched in favour of dragging Scotland back to a divisive second referendum on independence.
“The Scottish Greens have shown time and again they are only interested in serving the SNP, not the people of Scotland.
“By voting Scottish Labour on May 4, people across Scotland can elect a champion for their local communities – a councillor that will fight SNP and Green cuts and a second independence referendum a majority of Scots don’t want.”
The SNP is expected to make sweeping gains in next month’s council elections and looks poised to seize Glasgow from Labour. Pollsters are tipping Kezia Dugdale’s party to finish third behind the Tories.