22 September 2008

All change for the Greens

Patrick Harvie is the sole nominee for the Green male Co-Convener's post. This is unsurprising as he was the only credible male candidate.

But a rather garbled BBC News report appears to suggest that Alison Johnstone is bowing out as female Co-Convener, after just a year in the job. According to the story:

The second co-convenor, who must be a woman under the Green Party's rules, will be chosen from three candidates.

They are former MSP Nina Baker, Glasgow councillor Maggie Chapman and Edinburgh councillor Eleanor Scott.

Now, the credibility of this report is stretched by the fact that the reporter has mixed up the biographies: Baker is the Glasgow Councillor; Chapman is the Edinburgh Councillor; Scott is the former MSP. (UPDATE: As confirmed by James, the BBC have cleaned up the mess.)

But assuming the rest of the story is correct, then this blogger intends to make an endorsement.

Nina Baker would have been a viable candidate if Robin Harper were continuing as Male Co-Convener, or if Patrick Harvie were not standing for the role. As things stand, a win for Baker would create an all-Glasgow Leadership team. Now, if gender balance is right for the party, why should geographical balance be ignored? How comfortable would other Greens feel as the party centred on Glasgow? How can they attract more voters from other sources across Scotland, if the Party's most important people represent the same city?

Eleanor Scott has been a previous Principal Speaker of the Party, and was an MSP for four years. But her time at the front of the party was overshadowed by Robin Harper: she did not have the impact to break through and become the Greens' standard bearer. If she can break through in her own Party, how can she help the Party as a whole to break the mould?

This leaves Maggie Chapman. For me, the downside is that she is perhaps the least SNP-friendly of the candidates (Scott, whose partner is SNP MSP Rob Gibson, is obviously the most SNP-friendly). But that would enable the Greens to have a "good cop, bad cop" system, with Harvie engaging in dialogue and compromise with the SNP, while Chapman shored up the base and made sure that the Party's individual voice wasn't lost in the way that the LibDems appeared, and continue to appear, submerged by Labour. Plus which, I have had personal dealings with her. I guarantee that she is a mile smarter than anyone else you'll meet, she's sharp, she can cut through the BS and get to the heart of the matter. She will ask tough questions. She can be very vocal when she chooses to be, and she is incredibly effective. She has the strengths and the potential to be a powerful figure in the Party.

At this stage, if I were a Green, I'd be backing her.


James said...

The rest of the story is right, and the mixed-up roles have all been solved through the magic of Press Officer.

Angry Steve said...

Chapman's rhetoric on the armed forces recruitment in schools was more than enough for many people to realise she's barking.

That and from knowing her when she was politicking at university...

Will said...

Well, Steve, I'm struggling to find a time when I agreed with her on, well, anything (apart from EUSA managed to just misplace a fortune during the Festival one year), but she was bloody good at what she did, especially when I dealt with her on SRC and the Finance Committee.

She would put in the effort, she would ask tough questions, she would read what was put in front of her and actually listen to what was said - I assume she was P&P but she wasn't one of their rabble. She'd think about things, she'd give actual, credible reasons for her opinions and she wasn't afraid to be awkward. She was one of the few people involved who I had respect for...