The UKâ€™s first Green parliamentarian is to stand for Westminster in 2010.
Robin Harper, currently Green MSP for the Lothians, has been selected to contest the Edinburgh East seat at the General Election, expected to be held next spring.
Edinburgh East’s current MP, Gavin Strang, is stepping down, and the seat is already tipped as the best prospect for the city’s first Green MP. The news that the popular Mr Harper has secured the Greens’ nomination blows the race wide open, according to the party. Greens point to the European elections back in June, when they took 17% and third place in Edinburgh East, easily beating the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
Across the UK, the Greens have been approaching the Westminster election with heightened expectations. Caroline Lucas MEP is the bookmakers’ favourite to take Brighton Pavilion for the Greens, while the party also has hopes for good results in Norwich, London and Oxford.
Mr Harper said that the prospect of being part of the first group of Green MPs was too enticing to turn down. He said:
“In 1999, I was proud to be the first Green elected at a national level in the UK, the forerunner of future successes in the Scottish Parliament, the European Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly. I have served at Holyrood for more than a decade now, and I concluded that the time was right to pass on the baton to other colleagues in the Scottish Parliament.
“But the Westminster Parliament remains the last level of government without a Green presence. It is a Parliament that has seen its reputation battered, quite rightly, as decades of bad behaviour by the old boys’ club have been exposed. It remains remote and out of touch on the issues which matter to people: on quality of life, sustainability and an economy that provides for all.
“It’s time for a change, and it will now be up to the people of Edinburgh East to decide if they wish to see me elected as their MP.Â It would be an extraordinary honour to serve them as part of the first ever group of Greens at Westminster.”
Mr. Harper’s candidacy was welcomed by Green Councillor Alison Johnstone, who has worked with him in the Parliament since 1999. She said:
“The race in Edinburgh East is now wide open, and the other parties have a tough fight on their hands. Robin has represented Edinburgh East in Holyrood for ten years, and could not be better-known in the area. In addition, he will bring an honest and principled enthuasiasm to this campaign.
“The public are disenchanted with what’s on offer from the parties already at Westminster. The time has come for a Green alternative, and there is no-one better than Robin to deliver it.”
Other Green candidates announced today are Kate Joester for Edinburgh North and Leith; Councillor Steve Burgess for Edinburgh South and Clare Cooney for Edinburgh South West.