Letter to Patrick Harvie
Co-convenor, Scottish Green Party
16th February 2016
This letter is to let you know why I have decided to leave the Scottish Green Party.
I have been involved in Scottish politics for over 30 years. Throughout that time I have sought to advance democratic, environmental and liberal values in accordance with my belief that those in politics should be committed to principles of honesty and public service.
This is not the first time in my political life I have found myself a member of a party that has put expediency and short-term advantage ahead of the principles it claims should guide its behaviour. That doesn't make it any less disappointing to discover that in the Scottish Green Party, the Party's rules can be selectively applied by - and to the benefit of - senior figures.
My concern about whether the Party was following its own stated beliefs started about a year ago as I became more and more worried by the shambolic conduct of the selection ballot for the 2016 Holyrood candidates. As you know, I made my concerns clear at the time and later lodged a formal complaint. It was subsequently acknowledged, for example, that the ballot papers, though apparently randomised as the rules required, were actually alphabetic starting with the third letter of the surname, an ordering method that ensured the Party's co-leader, Maggie ChApman, came first on the North-East ballot paper. My complaint about the conduct of the ballot was delayed by the obstructive behaviour of senior Party figures. The process as eventually concluded was not conducted according to either the principles of natural justice or the Party's own rules. By the time a verdict was delivered no-one was surprised it endorsed the selection of Maggie Chapman as lead North-East candidate.
Of course, no political party can be held responsible for the day-to-day, individual, actions of all its members. But a party is responsible for requiring its candidates to meet certain minimum standards. For me, and I believe most people, one essential is that a candidate for public office must be honest with the public. Maggie Chapman's clearly untrue statements in relation to a Ph.D. actually abandoned many years ago therefore seriously call into question her suitability to be a Green Party candidate. But that has not been the Party's response. Candidates on the North-East Holyrood list were told they must give unequivocal support to Maggie Chapman as lead candidate. Those who said they were not prepared to publicly defend dishonesty were given an ultimatum to resign (which three did) or face immediate deselection. Effectively, it would appear, the whole Party is expected to act in the interests of senior figures - and not according to the principle that rules should apply equally to all, regardless of position. That is not healthy or wise.
I have been privileged to be co-convenor of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Green Party branch for the last two years. It has been very saddening to me to see the devastating effect on the Green Party in the North-East of the events and actions described above. Experienced and committed Party members have left or stopped participating. The branch now rarely meets and barely functions at all.
I have now also reached the point where I believe my best chance of advancing the political causes I support is to campaign as an individual or as a member of various environmental and other organisations. I shall not be voting for the Scottish Green Party this May.