Onward and upward!

Alison JohnstoneYou could be forgiven for being weary with elections. The UK election seems very recent still and the full implications of the Conservative – Liberal cuts are only now becoming apparent. And, yet, here we are, faced with the run up to the next Scottish election in May 2011.

But looking ahead to 2011 is just what the Scottish Greens will be doing this weekend up at Napier University’s stunning Craiglockhart Centre.

We’ll be joined by Caroline Lucas, the UK’s first Green MP after her landmark election back in May. And we’ll be hearing from Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, fresh from remarkable results in their federal elections and a decisive role in the shape of the government down under.

For many of us, the highlight will be Robin Harper’s final conference speech after twelve years as Green MSP for Lothian. I am honoured to have been selected to try to take Robin’s place (and scarf).

And there has never been a more important time for Green ideas. Across the UK, we are witnessing an astonishing assault on our public services, ideology wrapped in the cloak of financial necessity. Perhaps that’s predictable from Conservatives but Liberal Democrat supporters admit to being stunned by that party’s complicity. And can anyone really say that the SNP and Labour would make fundamentally different choices?

There’s an utterly naïve view that the private sector will grow to fill the space vacated by the public sector. But will it? And what kind of economy? One characterised by “McJobs” – feeding on high consumption, waste-today-forget-tomorrow? That’s no kind of policy at all. Not for people and not for the planet. We need a thriving public sector working with a responsible private sector to make genuine long term choices for Scotland – on energy policy, on housing, on transport and the whole gamut of policy.

With that challenging agenda, I firmly believe that Green MSPs will be elected in increasing numbers next May, the better to help make Scotland a greener and fairer country.