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Glasgow,  20-21 October 2018

The Scottish Green Party heads into its autumn conference in need of a profile boost as the constitutional wrangling of Brexit has meant fewer column inches for many of their key policy objectives.  

Maggie Chapman addresses the 2015 conference, Perth Concert Hall  © Newsdirect

But with the Scottish Budget coming over the horizon, the party’s MSPs are about to move into the segment of the calendar when their leverage increases. The last SNP budget passed on the back of Green votes, which were offered in exchange for increased funding to local authorities.

Patrick Harvie et al have said no such deal can be struck this time round if the Scottish Government doesn’t commit “meaningful progress” on local tax reform, a position likely to be reaffirmed via a conference motion. It would therefore be no surprise to hear Harvie give significant prominence to Green wins in council chambers when he delivers his address. Expect this to go hand-in-hand with national issues, including transitioning away from an oil-based economy, where he’ll continue the trend of presenting the party as the face of the electable left in Scotland.

Though it doesn’t grab much in the way of headlines, the expertise within the MSP team has been much in evidence around the Planning (Scotland) Bill and on the topic of short-term letting.  The parliamentary group, well used to delivering big bang for small buck, will no doubt be kept busy at the podium and around the conference fringes.

Most of the proposed changes to the Green’s Policy Reference Document should prove to be fairly uncontroversial to members. However, the Fare-free Public Transport issue has roused passions in the past. Some believe it represents an important pillar of green-socialist policy, while others believe it commits the party to something it can’t hope to deliver so it’s likely there will be some back and forth there.

Visiting speakers include Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid and Grace O’Sullivan, a member of the Seanad Éireann and Irish Green Party spokesperson on Environmental Protection, Natural Resources, and Marine & Tourism.  

Magid Magid / Grace O’Sullivan

Fringe events are being hosted by the Law Society of Scotland, EIS, RNIB, Another Europe is Possible, SAMH, WWF Scotland and ERS Scotland.

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