Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green Party (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Uaine na h-Alba; Scots: Scots Green Pairty; branded Scottish Greens) is a green[2] political party in Scotland. The party has six MSPs in the Scottish Parliament as of 2016. After the 2017 local elections, the party also have 19 councillors in six of the 32 Scottish local councils.

Scottish Green Party

Pàrtaidh Uaine na h-Alba
Scots Green Pairty
Co-LeadersPatrick Harvie MSP
Lorna Slater
Co-Leaders in the Scottish ParliamentPatrick Harvie MSP
Alison Johnstone MSP
Founded1990 (1990)
Headquarters17b Graham Street
Youth wingScottish Young Greens
Membership (2019)6,412[1]
IdeologyGreen politics[2]
Scottish independence[2][3][4]
Scottish republicanism[5]
Political positionCentre-left[8] to left-wing[9]
European affiliationEuropean Green Party
International affiliationGlobal Greens
European Parliament groupN/A
UK Parliament affiliationNone,
Cooperate with (but are independent from) the Green Party of England and Wales and Green Party in Northern Ireland
Colours     Green
Scottish seats in the House of Commons
0 / 59
Scottish seats in the European Parliament
0 / 6
Scottish Parliament
6 / 129
Local government in Scotland[10]
19 / 1,227
Party flag

The Scottish Green Party was created in 1990 when the former Green Party split into separate, independent parties, for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. The party is affiliated to the Global Greens and the European Green Party.

Party membership increased dramatically following the Scottish independence referendum,[11] during which it supported Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom.[12] As of 2018, the Scottish Green Party are the fifth biggest party by membership in Scotland.[13]


The Scottish Green Party is fully independent, but works closely with the other green parties of the United Kingdom and Ireland: the Green Party of England and Wales, the Green Party in Northern Ireland and the Green Party of Ireland. It is a full member of the European Green Party. The party currently has six MSPs and nineteen councillors. At the 2005 Westminster election, the party contested 19 seats and polled 25,760 votes, they returned no MPs. Its highest share of the vote was 7.7% of the vote in Glasgow North. In the European Parliament election of 2004, it polled 6.8% of the vote and did not return any MEPs. The party lost five of their seven seats in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election.

According to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission for the year ending 31 December 2009, the party had an income of about £90,230 that year, an expenditure of £61,165 and a membership of 1,072.[14] Within days of the Scottish Independence referendum being held, the membership swelled to more than 5,000.[15] Launching its manifesto for the 2015 General Election, the Scottish Green Party stated a membership of over 8,500.[16] By October 2015 the party were holding their biggest ever conference, with their membership standing at more than 9,000.[17]


The Scottish Green Party hold conferences every Spring and Autumn, where members from throughout Scotland attend to deal with all the business of the Scottish Green Party, with delegates voting on conference motions and policy motions.

Party Council

Between conferences, the Party Council provides the forum for strategic decisions, policy discussions, oversight and branch coordination. The council is composed of two delegates from branches, usually branch co-convenors, representative and special interest groups. The council is currently led by Council Co-Convenors, Chris Ballance and Mags Hall.

Party Executive Committee

The party's day-to-day administration is supervised by the Executive Committee which is currently led by Executive Chair, Ross Greer. This committee also oversees the work of the elected National Committees; Finance & Fundraising, Elections & Campaigns, Policy, Membership and International.


The party is made up of branches, who usually cover one or more local authority areas, and meet on a regular basis.


The Scottish Green Party have five self-organised groups:

  • Scottish Young Greens
  • Women’s Network
  • Rainbow Greens
  • Disabled Network
  • Scottish Green Party Trade Union Group

The groups have additional meetings and discussions which are separate from the main party meetings.


The Scottish Green Party originated as the Scottish branch of the Ecology Party, founded in 1978 by Leslie Spoor.[18] The Ecology Party became the UK Green Party and it remained a constituent party until 1990, when the Scottish Green Party became a separate entity. The separation was entirely amicable, as part of the green commitment to decentralisation: the Scottish Green Party supported the referendum on Scottish independence[19] and opposed Britain's entry into the European Common Market in its 1989 European election manifesto, claiming that the Common Market would cause mass unemployment for Scottish workers, force Scotland to move towards a tourist-based economy, enable the destruction of local food markets and cause catastrophic environmental damage – for this reason, the party campaigned for a Europe-wide confederation of individuals on global issues affecting the environment.[20]

The Scottish Green Party has its most prominent presence in the Scottish Parliament, which is elected using the additional member system of proportional representation. In the first election to this Parliament, in 1999, the Scottish Green Party got one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) elected by proportional representation, Robin Harper, the UK's first elected Green parliamentarian (George MacLeod had previously represented the UK Green Party in the House of Lords). On 1 May 2003 the Scottish Greens added six new MSPs to their previous total.

In the 2007 elections, the Party lost five seats in Holyrood. However, in the council elections, taking place under the new Single Transferable Vote voting system, they gained three Councillors on the City of Edinburgh Council and five Councillors on Glasgow City Council. On 11 May, the Greens signed an agreement[21][22] with the Scottish National Party, which meant that the Greens voted for Alex Salmond as First Minister and supported his initial Ministerial appointments. In return, the Nationalists backed a climate change bill as an early measure and promised to legislate against ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth. The SNP also agreed to nominate Patrick Harvie, one of the Green MSPs, to convene one of the Holyrood committees: Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

On 28 January 2009, the two Green MSPs were instrumental in the defeat of the Government's budget,[23] though a slightly amended version was passed easily the following week. On 31 May, Cllr Martin Ford, formerly a Liberal Democrat, joined the Scottish Green Party in protest against the plans by Donald Trump to develop on an important environmental site at Menie.[24] On 13 October 2009, he was joined by fellow former Liberal Democrat Cllr Debra Storr.[25] Both Councillors continued to serve on Aberdeenshire Council as members of the Democratic Independent group.[26] At the 2012 Scottish local elections Councillor Debra Storr stood down to concentrate on her professional career.[27] Councillor Martin Ford was re-elected, this time standing as a Scottish Green Party candidate.

After the Scottish Government announced the referendum on Scottish independence, a campaign group called Yes Scotland was established to promote a vote for independence. Leading members of the Scottish Green Party actively supported and became involved with the campaign from its foundation, with Patrick Harvie among the members of Yes Scotland's Advisory Board.[28] In November 2013, Edinburgh councillor Maggie Chapman succeeded Martha Wardrop as the party's female co-convenor.[29] In December, former convenor Robin Harper said that he would "absolutely vote No" in the independence referendum and offered his backing to the Better Together campaign, putting himself at odds with official party policy and its present leadership. Going on to say that he would like to help the Better Together and that there was a "significant minority" of Greens who were opposed to independence.[30] Uniquely amongst the parties in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Green Party is open about and comfortable with the differences of opinion in the party on the constitutional issue, with co-convenor Patrick Harvie pointing out that "even the very firm supporters of independence within the Greens tend to be more strongly motivated by other aspects of our political agenda..."[31]

In February 2005 the party announced plans to field candidates in 19 seats in the 2005 Westminster elections.[32] In February 2015, the party announced that it would field candidates in 32 seats for the 2015 United Kingdom general election with 40% of their candidates being women.[33] In 2017 the party generated some controversy by standing only 3 candidates at the general election.[34]


While associated mainly with environmentalist policies, the party has a history of support for communitarian economic policies, including well-funded, locally controlled public services within the confines of a steady-state economy, is supportive of proportional representation and takes a progressive approach to social policies. The party is also strongly opposed to both nuclear power and the Trident nuclear programme.[35][36][37] It is the only party other than the Scottish National Party (SNP) to both support Scottish independence and have representation in the Scottish Parliament. However, unlike the position taken by the SNP in the 2014 independence referendum, the Scottish Green Party supports Scotland having its own currency if it were to become an independent country. The party has said this would be in order to establish full economic independence, rather than being tied to the pound sterling.[38][39][40]

According to the party's website, the Scottish Greens are committed to forming a sustainable society and are guided by four interconnected principles:

  • Ecology: Our environment is the basis upon which every society is formed. Whenever we damage our environment, we damage ourselves. Respect for our environment is therefore essential.
  • Equality: A society that is not socially and economically just cannot be sustainable. Only when released from immediate poverty can individuals be expected to take responsibility for wider issues. Our society must be founded on cooperation and respect. We campaign hard against discrimination on grounds of gender, race, sexuality, disability, age or religion.
  • Radical democracy: Politics is too often conducted in a polarised, confrontational atmosphere and in a situation remote from those that it affects. We must develop decentralised, participative systems that encourage individuals to control the decisions that affect their own lives.
  • Peace and nonviolence: Violence at all levels of human interaction must be rejected and succeeded by relations characterised by flexibility, respect and fairness.

The party claims that, taken together, these principles give the party a holistic view that is in common with all Green parties around the world.[41]


Leaders of the Scottish Green Party
As Convenors
1990–2002 Robin Harper
2002–2004 Eleanor Scott
As Co-convenors
2004–2007 Robin Harper Shiona Baird
2007–2008 Alison Johnstone
2008–2011 Patrick Harvie Eleanor Scott
2011–2013 Martha Wardrop
2013–2019 Maggie Chapman
As Co-leaders
2019–Present Patrick Harvie Lorna Slater


All of the Scottish Green Party's Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have been elected under the list or "top-up" system of representation in the Parliament.[42]

Current MSPs

Previous MSPs


Prior to the 2007 elections, the Party had only ever elected one councillor at local level: in May 1990, Roger (aka Rory) Winter, representing the Highland Green Party (Uainich na Gàidhealtachd), was elected in Nairn as Scotland's first Green regional councillor to the then Highland Regional Council. Cllr Winter broke away from the Greens in 1991 and continued his four-year term as an Independent Green Highlander.

The party made its first major breakthroughs at council level in the 2007 local elections, electing 8 councillors between Glasgow City and the City of Edinburgh Councils.

In the 2012 local elections this was increased to 14. The party elected councillors for the first time to Aberdeenshire, Stirling & Midlothian Councils.

At the 2017 local elections, the party returned a record 19 councillors, including elected councillors to Orkney Islands Council for the first time. However, the party lost its sole councillor on Midlothian Council.

Electoral performance

Local elections

YearFirst preference votesShare of votesSeats wonAdditional Information
8 / 1,222
First ever councillors elected. Not involved in any governing coalition.
14 / 1,223
6 more councillors elected. Part of coalition on Midlothian Council.
19 / 1,227
5 more councillors elected.
First councillors in Orkney and Highlands councils, highest number of councillors in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Scottish Parliament

YearVotesShare of votesSeats wonPositionOutcomeAdditional Information
1 / 129
5thOppositionFirst election to the re-constituted Scottish Parliament. Robin Harper becomes the first elected Green parliamentarian in Britain.
7 / 129
5thOppositionThe party's largest ever parliamentary group.
2 / 129
2 / 129
6 / 129
4thOppositionThe party's highest number of votes in a Scottish election. Elected the youngest ever MSP, Ross Greer.

UK Parliament

YearShare of votesSeats wonAdditional Information
0 / 72
0 / 59
0 / 59
0 / 59
0 / 59

European Parliament

YearVotesShare of votesSeats wonAdditional Information
0 / 8
0 / 7
0 / 6
0 / 6
2019 129,603 8.2%
0 / 6
The highest vote share the party has achieved.

See also


  1. "Scottish Green party loses 30 of members since 2014 indyref". The National. 4 August 2019.
  2. Nordsieck, Wolfram (2016). "Scotland/UK". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  3. 'The Scottish Green Party supports Scottish independence'. Published November 2012. Retrieved May 2015.
  4. Macnab, Scott (10 June 2014). "Scottish independence 'for fairer, greener Scotland'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  5. "Scottish Independence" (PDF). Scottish Greens. November 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2019. A hereditary monarchy is incompatible with Green principles of democracy, equality and fairness. We favour an elected Head of State.
  6. 'Now is the time to fight to stay in Europe ... and to reform it from the left, not the right as Cameron plans'.
    Scottish Green Party website. Published February 2016. Retrieved March 2016. Author – Ross Greer.
  7. 'For A Radically Reformed Europe: The Green Campaign To Remain'. Retrieved March 2016.
  8. Scotland Business Law Handbook: Strategic Information and Laws. International Business Publications, USA. Volume 1, 2013 edition (updated annually). Published in Washington DC, USA.
  9. Green Party set to take 10 seats from Labour in next year's Scottish Parliament election.
    The Independent. Author - Jon Stone. Published 14 July 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  10. "Local Council Political Compositions". Open Council Date UK. 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  11. "SCOTTISH GREENS THANK OVER 3,000 NEW MEMBERS". Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  12. "Scottish independence: Greens join Yes Scotland campaign". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  13. Lee, Georgina (15 June 2018). "The SNP probably have more members than the Tories now, but does it matter?". Channel 4. Channel 4. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  14. "The Scottish Green Party Statement of Accounts For The Year Ended 31 December 2009, Electoral Commission website, retrieved 10 May 2011" (PDF).
  15. "Scottish referendum: 'Yes' parties see surge in members". BBC News. 22 September 2014.
  16. "Manifesto launch: Scottish Green Party unveils 'bold vision'". BBC News. 30 March 2015.
  17. "Scottish public 'should have power to propose independence referendum'". The Herald. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  18. Paul Cockburn, "Leslie Spoor", The Herald, 30 March 2011
  19. "Greens show their colours to back vote for independence". The Scotsman. 30 July 2005. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  20. Smith, Ken (19 May 1989). "Greens oppose the single market". The Glasgow Herald. p. 15. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  21. "SNP and Greens sign working deal". BBC News. 11 May 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  22. "Text of Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party Cooperation Agreement (60Kb pdf), accessed 6 January 2010" (PDF).
  23. "Scottish budget rejected by MSPs". BBC News. 28 January 2009.
  24. Gordon, Green. "Welcoming Martin Ford to the Greens". Two Doctors. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  25. Glenn, Stephen. "Welcoming Debra Storr to the Greens". Two Doctors. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  26. "Aberdeenshire Council – Councillor Political Affiliation". Archived from the original on 3 November 2011.
  27. Urquhart, Frank (4 May 2012). "Scottish council elections: Fight is on for Aberdeenshire as Anne Robertson steps down". The Scotsman. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  28. "Perspective: Why a Yes voter needn't be a nationalist". 10 January 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  29. "Glasgow MSP retains Greens leader role". Evening Times. Newsquest. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  30. "Robin Harper to vote No". Edinburgh News. Johnston Press. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  31. "Patrick Harvie MSP". Patrick Harvie MSP. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  32. "Greens to contest 19 seats in bid to gain historic first MP". The Scotsman. 28 February 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  33. "Scottish Greens set to field candidates in 32 seats". Sunday Herald. Newsquest. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  34. "General election 2017: Scottish Greens to field three candidates". BBC. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  35. Energy. 'And we will not build new nuclear power plants because they can never be democratically-controlled, decentralised, delivered or decommissioned without massive subsidy'. Scottish Green Party (official website). Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  36. What is the Scottish Green Party's view on nuclear power? Archived 13 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine 'We would plan to phase out fossil fuel and nuclear power stations and invest much more in tidal, wave and solar energy along with hydro and wind schemes. Greens will make Scotland a world leader in new renewable technologies'. Lanarkshire Green Party. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  37. Scotland Can Be A Global Citizen. 'A nuclear-free Scotland. Scotland’s opposition to the Trident nuclear weapons system is well-established and we are proud to be at the forefront of efforts to disband this obscene Cold War relic. We would pursue every possible avenue to pressure Westminster into getting rid of the nuclear weapons stored on the Clyde. We would explore options such as: issuing guidance to Police Scotland not to enforce charges against nonviolent activists involved in protests against the Faslane base and shipments of nuclear weapons on Scottish roads; amending the Marine Scotland Act to include a ban on the movement of nuclear weapons through Scottish waters; and ending government support for businesses involved in the supply chain for Trident'. Scottish Green Party (official website). Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  38. Own currency fundamental to independent Scotland. Scottish Green Party (official website). Published 30 August 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  39. Scottish independence: Scottish Green Party launches 'Yes' campaign. BBC NEWS. Published 15 November 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  40. Scottish independence: Greens back Scots currency. The Scotsman. Author - Tom Peterkin. Published 6 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  41. The Principles of the Scottish Green Party, party website, accessed 28 December 2009 Archived 12 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  42. "The Green MSPs' blog". Retrieved 13 October 2016.
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