13 September 2008

Leadership Saturday: It's not easy being Green

Roughly twelve months ago, I forecast the likely departure of Robin Harper from the joint Convenership of the Greens, either in 2008 or 2009. I then backed this up a few weeks ago, when I argued that his departure had to take place this year. In an interview to the Herald, Robin Harper has confirmed that this will in fact be the case.

Patrick Harvie is the only logical choice, and any challenger would be strictly cosmetic: Steve Burgess is an Edinburgh Councillor like the other Co-Convener Alison Johnstone, so is not an option; Danny Alderslowe, Stuart Clay and Kieran Wild are Glasgow Councillors but as such would be overshadowed by Patrick Harvie; Martin Bartos was the Greens' standard-bearer in Glasgow Kelvin but again, would be overshadowed by Harvie. Former MSPs Chris Ballance, Mark Ballard and Mark Ruskell are former MSPs, and the loss of MSP status is most likely what led to Shiona Baird stepping down as Co-Convener last year.

But the key of Harper's exit was the call made for a single leader, a decision just taken by the Green Party of England & Wales. Now, leaving aside the fact that Alison Johnstone's apparently subterranean profile and Patrick Harvie's status as an MSP would combine to make him a de facto single Leader, it makes sense. Indeed, it makes greater sense for the Scottish Greens to go this way than it does for their colleagues South of the Border: given that the Greens managed to stay in Holyrood when other smaller parties didn't shows they have staying power and some potential. It's not inconceivable that there could at some stage be Greens in a Coalition at some point in the future, or at the very least that the Greens could bounce back an restore their status as a recognised Parliamentary group with a spot at FMQs. So it makes sense to have a single, recognisable figure at the helm. How can two Leaders be Deputy First Minister, for instance? ASWaS makes a good case for change.

But will the Scottish Greens go for it?

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