Holyrood Selection - North East Scotland

Ballot papers are shortly due to go out for the selection for the Green's North East Regional List.

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. 
Local

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.  

Proven

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
.

I joined the Policy Committee to help refine and explain our policies to ourselves and to the wider public.  I'm proud that I led the writing of a new short policy summary (due to be published real soon!) and that I and Rachel Waugh harried Vote for Policies into including us.  It all helps get our message out there - and even we are surprised at how popular our policies are.  

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. 

Experienced

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.

Endorsements

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?  
Martin, Richard, Darren, Dan and Alex are also candidates in this selection.  I am therefore doubly appreciative of their support: we are only likely to elect one person from the list so they making a significantly selfless statement by endorsing me.
 
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. 

How popular are Green policies?

Since the middle of last year, the Green parties have been growing with an explosion of members aroudn the time of the IndyRef in Scotland.  And still they come. 

We've always known that, at least amongst people who like that kind of thing, 'blind shopping' of Green policies against other parties has produced very favorable results.    But until now, the Scottish Greens have been lumped in with our sister party in England and Wales (OK - but we are different) and the SNP shamefully hasn't tended to be included at all.

www.votematch.org/ agreed to include Scottish Greens for their new version due to go live in March.  Fantastic. We are really looking forward to the launch.  The process of being included was made very easy.

Vote for Policies 2010 for Gordon
But www.voteforpolicies.org.uk, after first being keen to include us, then decided that as we didn't have an MP or MEP in Scotland, we wouldn't qualify.  Rachel Waugh and I made a bit of a fuss on Facebook and lots of others joined in by email and on twitter - and within hours, a decision that look immoveable through January and most of February, was reversed : they did #invitethegreens.

Thank you. 
 
Vote for Policies  21st Feb 2015
Grand.

But how would we Greens fare now?

Well, not bad. See that nice big patch of Green.  That's us.  It's a small sample so far - but very promising.

It's difficult to compare the others as VoteforPolicies 2010 didn't include the SNP. But if I were UKIP or the Tories, I'd be worried: the purple and blue areas are shrinking.

No analysis of the situation across Scotland is yet available (I've asked) but on the UK scale, the picture is very interesting indeed.

There is the Green Party of England and Wales, sitting at the top of the leaderboard on 26.5% of the UK national vote - and with the Scottish Greens 3.2%, the Green total is 29.7%.  WOW!

On a UK national basis - and therefore a Scottish basis as neither party stands candidates outside Scotland - the Scottish Greens, narrowly defeat the mighty SNP.  WOW!

So we have a serious challenge on our hands.

We have to convert that good will towards our policies into a belief that those policies can be implemented and that it is worth voting Green to get them implemented.

See you on the doorstep. 
We've work to do.
We've seats to win.

It might take a while but we will win.  And so will the country.  

National disgrace, scoundrel and extremist

The untouched dune system.
The mobile sand sheet moved 5-15m north each year, leaving behind a time series of botanical
colonisation, one of the finest examples of such in northern Europe.
I'm often asked why this blogs normal title is National disgrace, scoundrel and extremist.  This phrase evokes to me a significant change in my political life.  And explaining that might also explain how money-politics works. 

In 2005, I was approached by representatives of Trump who wanted to outline to me, as local councillor, their plan to turn the shooting estate of Menie into a golf resort.  What they outlined was a 250 bedroom hotel, a golf course, maybe some staff accommodation and perhaps some other housing.  At this stage, it was clear that they'd been in discussions with the council planners and up to Chief Executive level for some time.

In March 2006, they went public with an announcement that they were in May going to submit an application for a 250 bedroom hotel, two golf courses and a holiday home complex, valued at £300 million, creating 400 jobs and in piled the local business interest saying this would put the north-east of Scotland on the map with Shiona Baird, Green MSP being the only cautionary voice.   

By the summer, the resort has grown to a £1 billion investment with a 450 bedroomn hotel and a thousand holiday homes.  Even more ra-ra from local business interests - obviously £1 billion is three times better than £300m - and there couldn't possibly be any downsides - could there?.

The resort proposal
When finally submitted in November 2006, the resort consisted of a 450 bedroom hotel, 950 holiday apartments, 36 golf villas and a village of 900 open market houses.

Now as councillor, you are stuck with making no comment on planning applications, as you could be deemed to prejudge the application.  So silence from me and meanwhile an enormous PR effort.

In the summer of 2007, I was lobbied by both local MP, Malcolm Bruce to the effect of 'You must pass the Trump thing, else the SNP will get the credit' and in favour of Trump by the then local MSP Nora Radcliffe. It was clear that the Trump PR machine was working at all political levels.  The Scottish Government has already added Trump to Global Scots - a group meant to promote Scotland's interests abroad.   MPs and MSPs had been intensively lobbied.  So had many -but not all - councillors.  And the business and tourist community had been fully briefed and were raising their voice loudly in support. 

Trump 'sensitively' resculpting the sand
dunes to make his golf course.
The problem with the application was simple: it trashed - literally bulldozed - a site of scientic interest in order to build a hotel and holiday complex.  And it built 900 houses on farmland where no village had been planned into order to pay for it.  Talk of £1 billion pound investment was fantasy - it was the sale of open market housing paying for the development.  Lots of environmental damage.  A thousand, mainly low pay,  jobs - in a area where unemployment was less than 1%, house prices are high and there is a shortage of affordable housing.  None would be included in the 'exclusive' Menie estate development.

In October 2007 there was a planning hearing lasting some 5 hours and in November, there were two meetings, first of the local Area Committee which approved the development and then famous Infrastructure Services Committee where Martin Ford used his casting vote to turn down Trump rather than sending the applicaion back for renegotiation - few councillors wanted to grant outright. 

And that was when all hell let lose.

The leader of the Council vowed 'I will do everything in my power to keep this application alive'.  The media went in to frenzy mode.  Martin took the brunt but I answered the phone to media and did countless interviews that day.   At 8am the following morning, I was scheduled to do a live interview with Radio Scotland.  A woman appeared on my doorstep shortly before this and, shouting obsenities at me, tried to assult me on my own doorstep.  I was too shaken to do the interview.   It was awful.  Thousands of emails.  Front page of the local newspaper with Traitor as the headline.  

By the end of the following week, Martin was no longer the chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, the application had been called in by the Scottish Government - an unprecendented step for an application that had already been properly determined - and there was a deep rift in the LibDems on Aberdeenshire between those that opposed Trump and those that supported him.

Aberdeenshire Council agreed to permit a 5m tall bund
to built around the Leyton Cottage on the Menie estate

I battled on, doing my job as councillor, especially to protect the rights of the Menie residents not be be harrassed and hemmed in and to maintain open public access to the Menie Estate (see here and here).

It was at this period when Donald Trump, a bit touchy at my opposition, wrote an open letter to the press (and sent me a copy some 6 hours later) where he called me a national disgrace, scoundrel and extremist.  I am patently none of those things - but I rather like the accolade from this birther and climate change denier.   
 
Eventually the rift in Aberdeenshire Council grew so deep and the behaviour of some councillors was so vile, that I left the LibDems, followed by Martin.  Martin joined the Greens immediately: I didn't join the Greens until October 2009.  I loved the welcome I got.  Linda Hendry, who I'd known for years from when I lived in Edinburgh said 'You've taken your time', which I took as a welcome and an indication that she'd regarded me as a green for a long time.  It was coming home.

What happenned at Menie was simple.  Lots of people, whose job it was to contain a crocodile, didn't do their job.  The zookeepers helped the crocodile rather than keeping it in its enclosure.  Why? Because they were blinded by a slick PR campaign and the idea that a couple of golf courses could replace the oil industry.  Laughable, if it wasn't so sad. 

But out of a very horrible time comes good:  

People know who I am.  I am still recognised and approached by people who tell me that I did right in regard to Trump - including by some who say they thought I was wrong at the time but now understand.

People know what I stand for.  I spent weeks looking at the evidence.  The 'right' of the matter was very clear to me at the time and I haven't changed my mind.  And I was left as one of the few voices raised to oppose Trump.  People - the Menie residents - and the environment matter.  And the economy, while important, must make sense in terms of actual benefit and actual investment not just be a matter of £000000000.

And they know I mean it.  Trump doesn't cope with No very well - he doesn't often meet it.  He tried every trick to intimidate me.  It wasn't pleasant but it didn't work. I survived and can smile about it now.  It's good to know that when presented with a choice, I did what was right not what was easy. 

Local - Experienced - Proven
The fallout thereafter at Menie is documented on this blog (Earlier material was lost as I blogged on the LibDem's own platform).  Click on Menie or Trump in the Cloud to the right to read more.  And if you want a fuller, less personal picture, then there are excellent papers by Martin Ford and Andy Wightman.

Tripping Up Trump continue to support the Menie residents.
Trump continues to harrass the residents.  Please support them on the Tripping Up Trump Facebook page.  While a golf course is built and Menie House and the adjacent steadings have been converted to holiday accommodation, the club house is about a third of the original size.   The Menie development hasn't been a success and Trump is now stamping his mark on classic Turnberry and Doonbeg in Ireland.    

Cycling needs infrastructure built for cycling.

As I have posted before, we have a government promising significant modal shift to walking to cycling for doing almost nothing to make it happen, even when spending hundreds of millions on major roads.  

At most we seem to get some shared path signs on existing pavements - which no-one supports as good practise - or dotted white lines on roads.

Rachel Aldred researched the views of people on different types of infrastructure.   While the majority of respondaent were regular cyclists, they were not only asked whether they would use teh various types of infrastructure, but whether others would.  The results are not exactly surprising - but they give a clear indication.

Cycling needs infrastructure built for cycling
Not infrastructure designed for motor vehicles. 
Not infrastructure designed for walking. 
But for cyclists:  8 to 80 cyclists 


Winter cycling in Copenhagen - along a separated cycle lane.
People supported substantial separation from motor traffic, in various forms. Separation by kerb or by car parking was very popular, as were park routes and streets closed to through motor traffic.

Separation by white lines was not popular - especially for people with children, children on their own or older (perhaps wobbly) cyclists,

Change is partly a matter of will - but also a matter of money.  And commiting money is the clearest indication of will available.

So if you meet and candidates for Westminster or Holyrood, perhaps you'd like to ask them when they are going to match Dutch levels of per capita spend on cycling.

See Rachel's blog at http://rachelaldred.org/research/children-and-cycling/ complete with a link to her first publication from her research. 

Strength, Functionality and Beauty - returning to Dundee

Dundee is a city that has evoked mixed feelings in me.  My mother was born there but left as a teenager.  For many years she would smile ruefully at 'Dundee is a great city to come from'.  That view was shared by Mike Galloway the Head of Planning for Dundee who said in December 2014 'A return to Dundee focused on an urgent need to tackle the central waterfront: “an embarrassment but a fantastic opportunity”. 

Dundee is one of the great examples of urban regeneration in Scotland and is increasing held up not merely as a model of what to do but how to do it.  As a councillor with an interest in planning and now an planner, I've been tracking the changes but hadn't taken myself for a tour - until my birthday on Sunday. 

There are no quick fixes in Dundee - no single project - but a complete approach to city planning and revitalising a city whose tendrils extend beyond urban design to facilitating business growth including spin offs from the universities.

Of course, nothing is perfect and there are controversies and difficulties but what has been achieved and what is being achieved is a superb demonstration of how a city can change. 

Before redevelopment. 
Concrete, roads and pedestrians not welcome here
I was most interested on this short trip to look at the central waterfront.  When I first visited Dundee the waterfront was only accessible from the city centre if you were willing to run the traffic gauntlet or used the foot bridge.

The dominant features were the roads - the Tay Road Bridge and the roads that served it.  And a rather ugly tower block.  And if you crossed the roads - well no-one would have called the hotel and swimming pool complex architectual delights and they each blocked off the waterfront.   

Overview of new Central Waterfront
The plans look beautiful with the Tay road bridge being contained between development rather than dominating the land. The art is to accommodate traffic withouit letting it dominate and it looks like there is a decent prospect of that. 

The new openspace will run from the Tay to the back of the Caird Hall and the new V&A museum and new railway station are strong architectural statements to the east of this sector. 
Main route continuing from Castle Street to the Tay
(east side of new open space)
The reality on the ground at present isn't great.  The sight of ripped up heaps of tarmac pleased me.  There is mess and confusion and uncomfortable routings for walkers and cyclists.   But there is a real attempt to reclaim space from the car to the benefit of people so we will need to be patient.



New housing at the Quays helps bring
vitality to the waterfront and city centre

Good things have been delivered in the Quays area to the east of the Road Bridge.  Great things are promised for the central waterfront area.  On her last visit, my mother was impressed at the changes she saw: I'm looking forward to seeing how Dundee changes next.  

Let's all hope that Vitruvius' three principle of design hold firm:  firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty). 

Let's build a better future. 
   

 

Pauline Hinchion



Guest post by Pauline Hinchion
Pauline Hinchion
As Co-convenor of the Dundee & Angus Branch of the Scottish Green Party, I am seeking your nomination to lead the Holyrood North East Regional list.

A previous Council and Holyrood list candidate for the Green Party, I am now the Westminster candidate for Dundee West.

Originally from Cork in Ireland, Dundee has been my home for 15 years.  This is important as your Holyrood candidate should live and be active in the region because it demonstrates our Green commitment to localism and grassroots activity.

After 20 years of voluntary sector employment, I am currently working, with partners, on the creation of a social bank for Scotland as an alternative to mainstream banks whose speculative behaviour have resulted in the austerity that is affecting our communities and depriving small local businesses of money. I have previously worked in the public and private sectors.
During the referendum campaign I collaborated with pro-Independence groups and parties to spread the Green Yes message connecting local and global issues in venues across the North East.

As an MSP, I would work hard to represent constituents and promote the social and environmental policies of the Green Party that are the antidote to the consumption driven neo-liberal economics that are currently damaging both people and the planet.

If selected, I plan to take a leave of absence from work in the months prior to the Holyrood election in order to maximise our chances of securing a Green MSP for the region.

@paulinehinchion    
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pauline-Hinchion                                               

Vote Pauline Hinchion No 1
Vote Debra Storr No 2

David Officer

David Officer
Guest Post from David Officer

I’m a campaigner, artist and marketer who has lived all my life in Aberdeenshire. I’ve a deep connection with the Mearns and the issues that affect communities here, from farming to oil workers, retail to renewables; there is a range of challenges facing us as we look to the future of North-East Scotland.
But it’s not just the Mearns I hope to represent and I’ve proven myself as a passionate campaigner on issues in Aberdeen and across Scotland, whether leading National Collective in the north-east during the independence referendum, campaigning against the City Garden Project, or starting one of the first online petitions under the Scottish Greens name calling for the Scottish Government to ban fracking. I will stand up for Green principles and campaign tirelessly for what we believe in, using modern digital tools and old fashioned door-to-door legwork. 
I will stand for new ideas, not the status quo.  We should be investing in renewable projects to offset and replace a declining oil industry, not just to save jobs but because we can’t afford to keep pursuing disastrous fossil fuels. I will campaign for greater power for local authorities in smaller, more community-focused councils who actively listen to their constituents.  I will ensure Green values are represented in the north-east and in the Scottish Parliament, working with our other MSPs and putting pressure on Government to create better green policy.
Together we can create a greener, fairer Scotland.

David Officer

Alex Jarvis

Guest post from Alex Jarvis here soon.


I’m Alex Jarvis, twenty-four, making me part of a generation galvanized by the referendum, not content to give up pushing for the real, radical change we all dared to imagine.

I’ve lived, worked, and studied in the North-East for nearly my whole life, both in rural Aberdeenshire and in Aberdeen City, where I now study linguistics.

As a workshop leader at numerous fĂȘtes, fundraisers, and community gatherings, I have had experience engaging directly with local communities, the lifeblood of our society.

As a Campaign Organizer within the newly formed Aberdeen University Green Society, I will be working to support our Westminster candidates - as well as co-ordinating electoral registration drives, scrutinizing policy and raising awareness. 

With each election being a prelude to the next, we will capitalize on our membership surge, building a strong local campaigning team, developing skills and strategy as a foundation for future Green success in the North-East.

The public already believes in Green ideas. Like me, they want the minimum wage to be a living wage, and for a benefits system which treats people with fairness and compassion. Showing our commitment to inclusion and constructive consensus, we can transform Scottish politics to be a place where no-one is left behind, where there’s no them-and-us division between people and government, where together we create sustainable solutions for a future built to last. 

 We can win – at Holyrood and in local councils – and I’m committed to making it happen. 

Thank you for considering me for your vote.


 

Busy weeks ahead

Debra Storr
Local - Experienced - Proven
This month looks like being a busy one politically. 

I finally actually submitted my nomination form for North East Scotland List today!  Hurrah.  First step done. 

Campaigning through offical channels is very restricted so I'm inviting my fellow local candidates for the North East to have Guest Posts here.  If you have questions for anyone, then post your question as a comment against the relevant Guest Post.

So far we have
Do bookmark this post and check back for links to more.

Today the branch selects its Westminster candidates for 2015.  It'll be interesting to see how they perform in front of a very friendly Green hustings.

And then I'll be leading a discussion on a significant local economic development that raises quite complex issues of the balance between economic 'goods' and potential social and envionmental harm.  I'm sure our Westminster and Holyrood candidates will be asked about this.  Aberdeen Harbour Board are proposing to extend their operation into Nigg Bay to the south of the existing harbour.  As a professional planner, I summarised the issues in a briefing paper for the branch but we need to agree our stance democratically.  I'll report back ...

I've also been busy trying to help summarise the Party's gigantic heap of policies into a short readable summary (probably a dozen pages) that we can use to help members, prospective members and campaigners understand the breadth of our policies - and in some cases how they interlink.    But candidates, sorry, you are going to have to delve a little deeper and while more more detailed policy briefings are being prepared, a full set will take some time.    

And then there is preparation for a Health Inequalities policy consultation session in Dundee on 7th March.  Full details of that conference is coming out soon.  It should be interesting!

But tomorrow is my birthday and I'm taking the day off politics. 

Darren Duncan

This is a Guest Post from Darren Duncan who is standing for selection to the Greens North East Scotland List for 2016.
Darren Duncan
Local, gaining experience and
enjoying campaigning

I'm Darren Duncan, twenty years old from Macduff. I've only been a member of the Scottish Green Party for a short while so I'm fairly new to politics.  But I wasn't scared to jump in at the deep end. I was the candidate for the Troup by-election.

So I have previous campaign experience, and would look to further that by being involved in this campaign. It will help build profile of me and the party in my area when I potentially come to run again for Troup in 2017.

I'm a determined, hard worker, who is not afraid to stand up what I believe in. As well as the usual Green issues, I campaigned for a Living Wage and support for the local economy.

We need a strong team that covers all ages, geographies and I believe I can contribute towards that.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Troup by-election including hustings. I really enjoyed meeting people and canvassing. I would leap at the chance to be involved again and learn more for use in future elections.

Please vote for me, Darren Duncan.  And support our local, experienced and proven candidates as they supported me through the by-election

Together we can build Green success.

Follow Darren on Twitter @darrenaduncan

Some of Darren Press Releases:

Local - Experienced - Proven

Cllr Martin Ford
Guest post from Cllr Martin Ford

The local choice with a national reputation. By far the most high profile councillor in Aberdeenshire, Martin Ford has a proven track-record of winning votes and elections. Elected successfully four times to Aberdeenshire Council. The first Green councillor in the North-East. The councillor whose casting vote swung Aberdeenshire Council's decision to refuse Donald Trump planning permission. A tireless campaigner for schools, rail and bus improvements, and on climate change. Short-listed for the Scottish Councillor of the Year award in 2009. The top Green candidate in the North-East region at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. 

Martin Ford has a Ph.D. in plant ecology and before election to Aberdeenshire Council in 1999 he worked as an environmental scientist at the Scottish Agricultural College. Martin and his wife Gina live in Fintray in Aberdeenshire.

Martin has the skills and experience to make the difference and enable the Party to gain a North-East MSP in 2016. His is easily the best known name the Party could put on the ballot paper. Martin is a prolific writer of campaigning leaflets and press releases and an experienced performer on radio and television.

Martin says: "It will be tough to get a Green elected here in 2016. To succeed, we must have a locally based, experienced candidate of proven effectiveness. The Party's gender balance rules mean the top North-East candidate will almost certainly be a woman. Accordingly, I ask for your support by voting:

Debra Storr  1

Martin Ford  2


maf.cairnie@gmail.com

Together, let's make 2016 a real Green success

Dear Green friends and colleagues,


Debra Storr
Local - Experienced - Proven
I just wanted to let you know that I am seeking to lead our team of Green candidates in the north-east of Scotland for the Holyrood 2016 election.  I’m delighted that Pauline Hinchion from Dundee is doing the same.  Whoever wins the internal selection, I believe that together we would lead a balanced team with local candidates from different parts of the north east region.    

I am resident of rural Aberdeenshire who works as a planner mainly dealing with public infrastructure and renewables.   Pauline is the co-convenor of Dundee and Angus branch with extensive experience of developing socially and ethically sustainable businesses.  She is an experienced campaigner and candidate, having stood in Council and Holyrood elections.  Between us, we have local knowledge covering the entire region.  

This election will be a great opportunity for the Party.  Very importantly, part of the task for the north-east team will be to lay a solid foundation for the Council elections in 2017 and I will do my utmost to support our target candidates across the council areas. 

The north-east is my home.  As some of you will know, I was an Aberdeenshire councillor for 13 years until stepping down in 2012.  Along with our only Green councillor in the region, Martin Ford, I was the local councillor opposing the Trump development at Menie, which put spurious economic claims ahead of planning law, ahead of the rights of local residents, and ahead of environmental law and good planning.   That experience led me into my career as a planning consultant which is combined with running a holiday home letting business.  I am fortunate in being able to commit a large portion of my time from now until the election to make our campaign a success.  .   

I am delighted we will be standing candidates for Westminster in both Aberdeen city and the shire.  These candidates will gain important experience and will merit all our support.  Our ideas, which are popular, will be spread further and we should gain even more members. Just as importantly, we will be putting down markers that we are here to stay and are important political players.   We made our breakthrough in 2012, when my former council colleague Martin Ford was elected as our first Green councillor on Aberdeenshire.  

If we want to change Scotland - to put our rail network back in public hands, to make the minimum wage a living wage, and all the rest - the priority is to elect more Greens. 

As a local resident, experienced campaigner, and someone with a proven track record of representing people in the north-east, I believe I can help us achieve success in the 2016 Holyrood election.        

I look forward to seeing you at the party’s Spring Consultative Conference.   I can promise you an interesting agenda with as well as practical campaigning sessions, policy sessions covering Jobs and Prosperity, Health Inequalities (I am part of the organising team), and Europe.   

Regards

Debra Storr

Keep in touch!
@dmstorr
https://www.facebook.com/debrastorr
Phone me on 07429 603268
- and here!