Scottish election 2021: Lorna Slater urges independence supporters to back Greens for ‘radical’ change in Scotland
Speaking to The Scotsman in the first part of our exclusive election video series, On The HolyRoad, the Greens co-leader suggested only her party offered a “radical” view of independence, saying there was “no point” to leaving the UK if it maintained the status quo.
Ms Slater is contesting the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency seat at the Scottish Parliament.
Challenged on why independence voters should vote Green instead of SNP, the former engineer said her party’s vision of an independent Scotland was “significantly different”.
She said: “We don’t think there’s any point to being independent if we’re just going to keep everything the same.
“We would invest properly in our renewable industry, phase out oil and gas, change how the balance works in communities, so communities have the right to say what happens around them, rather than siding with developers as the SNP so often have.
“We really want to put in place radical policies like universal basic income, national care service. These things that will make Scotland a completely different country and shift the balance of the economy.
“We have only nine years left to significantly reshape the economy and stop the climate catastrophe. These things can go hand in hand.”
Ms Slater is up against incumbent SNP Ben Macpherson, Labour's Katrina Faccenda, Tory Callum Laidlaw and Rebecca Bell from the Liberal Democrats.
In 2010, the SNP won the seat from Labour with a 7 per cent swing, with the Greens coming in third.
The co-leader will also be second on the Lothian regional list for the Greens.
Describing her party as a “constructive opposition”, Ms Slater refused to rule out the Greens one day being the majority.
She said: “We use our role to push them into greener and more progressive policies.
“We used this negotiation position to win free bus travel for the 21s and under, free school meals for all primary school children, to stop Covid evictions.
“The list goes on on what we’ve been able to achieve.
“Certainly in the long run like all political parties we’d very much like to be part of where the decisions are made and a part of government.”
The Canadian born co-leader, who shares her role with Patrick Harvie, also revealed she only receives negativity for her accent on Twitter.
She explained: “One of the things I think is really nice about our vision for Scottish independence, it’s not the kind of nationalism that’s exclusive, it’s inclusive.
“People always say to me if you live in Scotland, you’re Scottish and they call me a new Scot, which I just love.”
Asked why she wants to represent the area and why she loves Scotland, Ms Slater claimed she wanted the country to lead the world on the environment.
She said: “The big thing is that Scotland has the potential to lead the way when it comes to climate change because we have so much renewable energy.
“We can show other countries how it’s done, we can say we will phase out our oil and gas, we will build renewable energy systems and show the world it’s possible to have sustainable energy.”
Her interview came during a trapeze lesson, which the politician claims is the “coolest thing” she’s ever done, after being bought a lesson on her 40th birthday.
Speaking to people in Leith, there seemed to be overall support for independence backing parties.
Rochiene Carley, who has lived in the city for 30 years, told The Scotsman she would be voting SNP because the UK Government was not doing enough.
She said: “I think the Scottish Parliament is doing a difficult job, especially when they aren’t getting any help from Westminster.
“Nicola Sturgeon has done a great job. I’m for independence and, as soon as we can become independent, the better we are.
“We’re rich enough, we’re powerful enough and we are not supported by Westminster.”
Chris, a mushroom seller who lives in Leith, explained he would back Ms Slater’s party, not just because of environmental reasons, but social as well.
He said: “Scottish Greens seem to align most with what I think is a crucial aspect, the climate emergency that is not going away.
“The Scottish Parliament is led to encourage coalitions. A green coalition would drive this in the future.
“In this area public transport is a big issue at the moment. This is one of the most densely populated areas and we do need better transport links.
We need better affordable housing for people like myself. It’s a very popular area, people come here to live. I moved here and there should be better affordable housing and less student accommodation and Airbnbs.
“I’m priced out of Leith. When I’m buying a house I probably won’t be able to afford Leith.”
Nurse Tanya said she would be voting SNP, but that she had not been following the election.
She said: “I work for the NHS, so that’s important to me when I think about voting, and Nicky [Nicola Sturgeon] has been amazing during this pandemic.”
Monty, who runs a food stall in the area, said she was likely to vote Labour, despite supporting independence in the referendum.
She explained: “I voted yes for independence last time around. I don’t really want to have another referendum because I don’t think it’s very helpful.
“At the moment we’ve got a lot of other things we need to worry about. Another referendum is just going to be divisive.”
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