'We can give the SNP and Labour a fright' - Scottish Greens co-leader on Holyrood 2021 election hopes

The Scottish Greens’ co-leader Lorna Slater has said she believes her party will “see the whites of their eyes” in the battle with the SNP for constituency seats at the Holyrood elections in May.
Lorna Slater, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said the party hopes to double its elected representatives to the Scottish Parliament.Lorna Slater, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said the party hopes to double its elected representatives to the Scottish Parliament.
Lorna Slater, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said the party hopes to double its elected representatives to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Slater said the party also hopes to take advantage of Scottish Labour’s “self-imposed downward spiral” and that her personal target for success would see an equal gender balance in the Green cohort.

She said the Greens’ long-term target is to become the main opposition party, but that May could see the first time they beat Scottish Labour into third place.

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As a pro-independence party, Ms Slater argued independence is the best way to enable Scotland to tackle the climate crisis, expressing support for a second referendum to take place “as soon as it is safe”.

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Polling shows the Greens are set for their most successful Holyrood election and could return ten or 11 MSPs, doubling the number they achieved in 2016.

Asked where she thought the Greens would gain votes, Ms Slater said that not all independence supporters liked the SNP and her party was aiming to gain from Scottish Labour’s travails.

She said: “Not everyone loves the SNP who wants independence and our very clear vision for what we want in a progressive, environmentally sustainable Scotland is different.

"In particular, Labour voters find that vision appealing. Progressive people, left-leaning people find the Green vision for that appealing, especially as Labour have really abandoned Scotland by supporting Brexit.

"Left-leaning people in Scotland are feeling really abandoned and so the Greens becomes their natural home.”

The Canadian-born politician replaced Maggie Chapman as co-leader of the party in August 2019 and is due to stand in Edinburgh Northern and Leith, home to SNP incumbent Ben Macpherson.

She said the Greens believed they could push the SNP close in constituency battles.

"We will certainly see the whites of their eyes,” she said.

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"The absolute intention is to really bolster Green support here and give the SNP a bit of a fright.”

Refuting the suggestion that standing bolstered unionist support, an argument put forward after Ruth Davidson narrowly won Edinburgh Central in 2016 after Alison Johnstone stood, Ms Slater said the party would be “letting voters down” if they did not stand.

In fact, the Greens believe they are close to beating Labour into third.

"We are getting there,” said Ms Slater, adding: “Is there ever a political party as so continuously disappointing as the UK Labour Party?

"We can safely expect their self-imposed downward spiral to continue and this is where the Greens have an advantage in Scotland. People are ready for a party that can and will stick to its principles.”

Asked whether she expected to be co-first minister alongside Patrick Harvie, she adds it is “ridiculous” for party leaders to suggest they will win when polling states otherwise.

Ms Slater adds: “In the long term, we would absolutely like to be a party of government, but at the moment what we are aiming for is to be the largest party of opposition, that is absolutely our target.

"We are working our way up, our pattern of building on our reputation has been steady and that is the right thing to do, to grow in a steady fashion.”

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