It's a funny kind of election for a role that might mean someone gets to be a Green MSP next May. The ballot papers go out with a 250 word statement and there might be a link to more information - but of course people might not bother to follow the link. And it looks like there may be a hustings or two arranged (but at the time of writing details haven't been confirmed).
I'm not very happy with that. While I do believe I am the best person for the role, I want members to make an informed choice and that isn't much information to go on. I don't have a full list of candidates but I have invited all those I know about to have a guest blog post here and you can find them all (and any others that take me up on the invitation) here. I'll update as I know more.
My main statement about why I am seeking the top slot in the North East is Together, let's make 2016 a real Green success and I'd love for you to go and read it.
But I'd also ask you to browse about this blog, my Facebook page and my twitter feed to get a feel of the kind of things that most interest me and what I get up to generally.
So what do we need in our lead candidate for 2016? I argue that we need someone Local. Experienced and Proven.
|Skye and Sunny are fully grown |
now so it's difficult to get a picture
of them both together.
I've lived in Scotland my whole adult life, moving from Edinburgh to Caithness and then ending up in Aberdeenshire some 18 years ago. That's now home for me, my partner and my two cats.
The north east of Scotland is not necessarily the Greens happiest hunting ground. With a low oil price depressing the oil sector in Aberdeen and also depressing the further development of renewables, there is a big dip in the economy in Aberdeen. But we do have positive messages here like this call for new Green jobs rather than further subsidies to the fossil fossils. I'm proud that Dundee, where my mother was born, is reinventing itself with new public open spaces and relegating roads to their proper function rather than letting them dominate the city. I am depressed that Aberdeen seems intent on the solutions of the past with proposals for a new urban dual carriage cutting through the heart of the city. We should be using the opportunity of the AWPR to reduce traffic in the centre of Aberdeen and make it an attractive place to live. Instead we have proposals like the new Marishall Glass box rather than an attractive civic space, an extra bridge across the Don designed to dump traffic into the centre. It makes me want to weep.
We do have distinctive messages - but they need to be messages tailored to the hitherto booming Aberdeen, rapidly changing Dundee and the more rural focused towns and village across the Region. It takes time to get your head round the variety of circumstances across this vast area. I know Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and there is a strong team here that I know will be invaluable and that can be built upon.
I have great respect for Pauline in Dundee and, if I am the lead candidate, I know she will be invaluable to build the team at the southern end of the region. If she's ends up as the lead candidate, I'll be disappointed personally but I know she would expect me to support the northern team regardless. But it will required detailed local knowledge and a deep committment to not just green policy but green solutions tailored to our local circumstances to convert good will towards our policies into a belief that they can be implemented and the votes we need to deliver. That's a big ask of people. We need to be out there doing the asking and convincing the canny folk here that we mean what we say and can deliver.
I've been a member of the Scottish Greens since October 2009. I had been a longstanding member of the Liberal Democrats before that. I left the Liberal Democrats when the difference between what they claimed to believe and what they actually did was too great. The crunch was over the Trump/Menie affair (see National disgrace, scoundrel and extremist) when a valuable environment was trashed for the vanity of rich showman and I became disgusted at the behaviour of LibDems, SNP, Tory and Labour who all fawned over Trump.
So I abandoned a party and rethought what I wanted. After a year of belonging to no party, I joined the Greens. That was because I saw a party that had deeply held values, where its elected representatives acted in accord with ths principles and the membership had a strong hand in holding the party true. That's a tough ask for elected representative in the peculiar world of politics where 'trimming' and 'accommodating' is the common. But ultimately what value is there in having power and exercising it for things you don't believe in?
Greens aren't perfect as individuals or as a party: we can't be in this very imperfect world. But we can do our best to reduce our impact on the world and help others do the same. And our message is very simple : Change is in our long term best interests and the sooner we start the easier it is. We are the only party that has a complete vision of a sustainable future. It's scary as one jump but we can map out a route that people can see. Warm homes through proper insultation rather than insultingly unrealistic cries for cheap fuel. A living wage so that we start giving people and local economies more spending power rather than subsidising minimum wage employers like McDonalds.
|In 2010/11 I did an MSc at Aberdeen so was |
thrilled to be asked to speak at the Inaugral
meeting of the new Green Society there
It was great to be asked to speak at the inaugual meeting of Aberdeen University Greens : I spent a busy year there doing a sprint of a MSc in Urban Planning and Real Estate in 2010/11 and it was so frustrating to have practical greenery to the fore but no Green Society.
Politics can be a rough game. I'd hope never to experience the pressure I got to cave in over Trump again. But at least I know I can hope with thousands of emails, and a near continuous stream of phone calls from the media, cope with live radio and TV statements.
But it's the day to day work that requires experience. I was a councillor for 13 years and dealt with hundreds of and hundreds of peices of casework. Some were squarely in the remit of a councillor: sometimes people just needed some advice on how to manage a difficult situation at home or work. You learn to listen carefully at what the problem really is and try to find way for people to find their own solutions. When working with groups, its easy to be the councillor who leads from the front. Much harder is to give people the tools and support for them to find their own way - and those are the projects that last. Less glory but more satisfaction, appreciation and ultimately value. And bottom up and empowering people is the Green way.
But politics is about PR. We need to be out there explaining what we are doing, what we think and why. Whether that is via the press, social media, directly communicating with people via leaflets and street letters or indeed face to face, we have a bigger hill to climb that other parties. We need to be out there are visible. It takes a combination of time, energy, (sometime money) and ingenuity. But we can do this.
I've been out there doing this and training others to do this too for years. I am supporting the Westminster candidates here in every way I can. I want to build a solid team, passing on skills, and learning new ones, so that in the future, we have a broad based strong Green Team in the North East of Scotland.
I'm grateful that the local team here are backing me :
- Councillor Martin Ford, my colleague through Trump and a great ambassador for the Greens in the north east.
- Richard Openshaw, our candidate for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and who I hope will be a councillor in 2017
- Rachel Shanks who fought a super campaign in Stonehaven in 2012 and who I know will be a fantastic councillor, hopefully in 2017.
- Darren Duncan, who was a superb candidate in the Troup by-election and is such a natural candidate that I look forward to seeing success for him in the future.
- David Officer, a very talented marketeer who steered me through the complexities of a setting up a Facebook Page
- Dan Yeats, our candidate in Aberdeen South, who has demonstrated a surefootedness in the campaign so far that bodes well.
- Alex Jarvis, instrumental in founding the newly established Aberdeen University Greens, and a lively talent for the future
- John McCallum, co-convenor of the branch - and how would we manage without his head for detail?
I'm disappointed that no other Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire woman put herself forward: it's not a shortage of talent. So this is something we need to work on so more women want to put themselves forward.
Pauline Hinchion in Dundee, like me, is seeking the top slot. But I'd ask you to vote for Pauline as number 2 and she has promised to ask her supporters to do the same.
We need a good local, experienced and proven candidate to win this seat in the north east.
We can do it.
But we need the local team, pulling together to bring it off, build the local teams and ensure that this is not just a 2016 success but a building block for the Greens to be unshiftable in the north east for the long term.
That is why I am asking you to vote #1 Debra Storr
If you have any questions or comments, email me (debra.storr@scottish greens.org.uk) or leave a comment here.