Lorna Slater took office as co-leader of the Scottish Green Party last month and discussed a few current issues, including environmental politics, Scottish independence and political diversity.
Slater explained when she first became involved with politics and why she believes in the Scottish Green Party.
“I had voted Green my whole life, especially when there was proportional elections happening but i hadn’t gotten involved , largely because it was something that other people did”
That all changed though during the Scottish independence referendum, when Slater said the Scottish Green Party “appeared to be a force to be reckoned with and a significant element in the movement for independence”. Slater joined the party 2 weeks after the referendum hoping to “have a serious impact and really make a difference in the world”.
With environmental issues high on the political agenda, Slater then explained how she would encourage student environmentalists to vote for the Scottish Green Party.
Slater said she was “very excited” about increasing the number of young people involved in politics and that “in a practical way, I think the way we connect to young people is getting more young people ourselves in the party, standing for election and hopefully getting elected.”
Slater references the EU elections that took place earlier this year as a time when she worked to get young people into politics explaining “we had a slate of young green candidates, -excellent candidates- put forward and I was helping mentor and support some of the younger, particularly women because im very interested in getting more women in politics, to make videos, be more confident with social media , and public speaking”
On the topic of elections, Slater moved on to say what she thought were the key differences between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party, as sometimes voters don’t see the difference.
The two parties have “very few policies in common”, she explained. “One of the few is Independence. Mostly if you look at the voting record (for the Scottish parliament) for the greens vote with the labour party and the SNP vote with the tory party.”
Slater later exemplified her view through a recent policy bill. “ In the planning permission bill, there was a chance for the SNP government to reform planning, to make more community engagement to give people more say as to what happens with planning in their communities and they totally blew it, they sided with the Tories” .
“A lot of people have this idea that the SNP are super progressive and they simply are not, they talk the talk but when it comes to voting they vote with the land owners and vested interests”
I then asked if there was an environmental case to be made for independence and its implications for Scotland.
There was “absolutely” an environmental case for Scottish independence she said , but wanted to shift the focus of the independence debate to “the kind of Scotland we want to see”. The referendum is “a means to an end.”
Slater urged more conversation around “healing the planet” instead of “reducing consumption to reduce our carbon footprint.” arguing that an improved enviroment is “useful” for the Scottish economy.
Some elements of renewable policy that would be effective are devolved to Westminster, she said, arguing that “until we have those powers, we won’t be able to make full use of our resources.”
” I think there’s possibly an element there where maybe westminister government doesn’t want Scotland to have an independent energy source and an independent source of revenue like that , but we do”.
“My speculation is that, anything that makes Scotland look wealthy,powerful and full of resources, would encourage independence.
“ We have ways of generating revenue, ways of creating jobs and industry in Scotland that would promote Scottish independence”. “I don’t think that’s what Westminister wants”
I asked if she thought gaining a large number of seats at in the next election was a mandate for Scottish independence rather than having a referendum.
“It’s about more than just having referendums” she said, but added ” no ,I think we do need to have a referendum”
She believes its the “correct path to independence” and “it would be much worse to hold some sort of illegal or illegitimate referendum.”
Returning to the environment, Slater was asked what promises the Scottish Green Party would want from the SNP if a coalition with the SNP arose.
She said, “we are definitely not going to go into coalition with the SNP.”
Feature image Credit: The Edinburgh reporter