The Scottish Greens today announced that Meadows and Morningside Councillor Alison Johnstone will be the party’s top candidate for the Lothians at next May’s Holyrood elections, followed by Southside and Newington Councillor Steve Burgess. Robin Harper MSP is standing down in 2011 after serving twelve years in the Scottish Parliament.
“It is an extraordinary honour to have been backed by party members as their top Green candidate for the Lothians. It is now more than ten years since Robin Harper made history in this seat as the first Green Parliamentarian anywhere in the UK, and he will truly be a hard act to follow. I first became involved with the Greens through campaigning for green spaces at Meggetland, and since 2007 I have represented the residents of Meadows and Morningside as their first Green councillor.
“As the region’s Green MSP Robin has worked hard for local people across Edinburgh and the Lothians for more than a decade. We’ll miss him in Parliament, but I know he’ll be around to help keep us on the right track. I share his high hopes for the future of Edinburgh and the Lothians, and I will work hard to try and see my colleague Steve Burgess elected to Holyrood too. The Lothians have elected two Green MSPs before, and I believe we can do so again.”
“Alex Salmond is calling for the next Scottish election to be a decider over an independence referendum, but the Greens’ priority will be the globally critical issue of whether or not we tackle climate change and environmental degradation.
“The more Green MSPs are elected to Holyood the stronger will be the voice against reckless roadbuilding and airport expansion and for investment in a clean, green low-carbon economy.
“In the Lothians we have the LibDem/SNP Administration in Edinburgh, on the one hand talking up concern over climate change yet contining to support unsustainable growth, airport expansion and now even beginning to encourage commuting by car again. We need the Parliament to ensure that Councils make action on climate change a priority and not a side issue to be ignored. It’s a crunch time.’
“I am absolutely delighted that Alison Johnstone is the choice of Lothians members to head up our list for the Scottish Parliament election, and that Steve Burgess is in position to be elected to Holyrood as well if we do the hard work on the doorstep.
“Alison is better prepared than I was in 1999 to take up this post, as she knows the ropes after twelve years of ably and energetically supporting me in my own efforts to take forward the Green message across the Lothians. Alison will also take four years experience as a councillor to the Parliament, grass roots political experience that will stand her in very good stead.
“I know Alison will acquit herself with distinction and that we will be proud of her. I look forward to working with local members to do all we can to get her and Steve, elected to our Parliament, and to continue supporting her once in post.”
Patrick Harvie MSP, the party’s co-convenor, said:
“The 2011 election will be an important moment, where Scots can vote for a positive agenda of social justice and safeguarding the environment instead of the failed centre-right agenda of the rest. Every other political party at Holyrood supported that agenda – growth obsessed, free market dominated and environmentally reckless – while the Greens predicted their failure.
“Now a vicious programme of public service cuts is proposed as the solution. The alternative is to cut the vanity projects and protect the vital services; to realise the opportunities of a low-waste, low-energy, low-carbon economy; and to put quality of life ahead of the selfish values of the right which have dominated our politics for far too long. We have the opportunity to re-draw Scotland’s political landscape next year. I urge everyone who wants to see that happen to get involved with the Greens and help make it a reality.”
Alison Johnstone is the Green Councillor for Meadows/Morningside and Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors on City of Edinburgh Council. Alison is Edinburgh born and bred, and lives in the south of the city with her husband and young daughter. A former East of Scotland 800 metres and 1500 metres title holder, Alison still runs for fitness and has witnessed the gradual and ongoing loss of accessible green space for residents and the apparent obsession with organised and elite sport that excludes many. Since 1999 Alison has worked as an assistant to Robin Harper MSP, a position she still holds on a part-time basis. Alison is the spokesperson on culture, leisure and sport, plus children and families.
Steve Burgess represents Southside/Newington Ward on Edinburgh City Council, and is Green spokesperson for Environment and Planning in Edinburgh. Before being elected, Steve was a research scientist at Edinburgh University and latterly former Head of Research for Green Members of the Scottish Parliament.
Steve was elected to City of Edinburgh Council in 2007 to represent Southside/Newington ward. As Co-ordinator of the Green Group of Edinburgh Councillors, he represents the Greens on the Council’s overarching Policy& Strategy Committee. He is also speaker on Environment issues and is Green member of the Council’s Transport Infrastructure & Environment Committee and the Planning committee (including the Development Management Sub-Committee).
Steve is married to Julita and they have a son, Seth, born in August. When not at the City Chambers or at home with family, Steve plays fiddle in a Scots music group and enjoys sailing and also mountain walking.