Scotland must ‘think globally, act locally’ in upcoming elections

Scottish Greens Co-leader Lorna Slater celebrates the impact that Scottish Green councillors are making ahead of the impending local elections

Lorna Slater
Lorna Slater

Local authority elections may get far less attention than national ones, but they are just as important. They are one of the best and most direct ways for us to influence change and shape the direction of our communities. 

This year’s election is happening at a particularly crucial time for our pandemic recovery and our environment. 

With skyrocketing energy bills and prices, millions of people are being hit by a Tory-inflicted cost-of-living crisis, which is likely to get worse in the months ahead. At the same time, we are sleepwalking into a climate catastrophe that every level of government should be acting to avert. 

With Greens in government in Holyrood, we have shown the impact that Green politicians can make, and are taking big steps to rise to these challenges. 

In the last six months alone we have introduced free bus travel for everyone aged 21 or under, we have made the biggest investment in new teachers for a generation and ensured record funding for active travel, wildlife and nature.

These vital changes may have been secured by Green MSPs in parliament, but they will be delivered by Green councillors in town halls and city chambers across the country.

Our councillors will put the planet at the heart of everything they do, and will work to ensure that Scotland’s local authorities are playing a leading role in tackling the local impacts of the climate crisis and the other major challenges we face.

That is why we are asking the people of Scotland to think globally and act locally. 

In Edinburgh, where I live, it was Green councillors that ensured that Edinburgh City Council declared a Climate Emergency and set a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, with interim targets and a bold action plan. 

In Glasgow, we have six green councillors who have reversed cuts to citizens advice services and played a key role in securing a £10m Climate Action Fund and divestment from fossil fuels. These are the kinds of changes that we want to see in every part of Scotland.

Even in local authorities where we only have individual councillors, such as in the Highlands, Stirling and Orkney, those councillors are making a big difference. They have changed the conversation, delivered for their communities and built strong foundations and platforms for future success.

It is also a big moment for our party and our movement. With 239 candidates, this is the biggest campaign we have ever run, and gives more people than ever before the chance to vote Green. 

Being a councillor is not glamorous. It can involve long and often antisocial hours and, particularly as a Green, sometimes being a lone voice in the room. Nobody stands to be a Green councillor because they think it will be easy, they do it because they care about their neighbourhoods and about our common future.

All of our candidates are running on a bold and positive manifesto that presents a positive and ambitious vision for a better Scotland. It is a picture of a Green Scotland with localism at its core.

But part of our localism is an understanding that the solutions in one part of the country may be different from another. Now, more than ever, we need to empower local people and local councils to push for Green change that meets the needs of the people they represent.

Our councillors will put climate and social justice at the centre of planning decisions and local services. They will be close to their residents and ensure that local voices are key to decision making.

In Scotland, the elections will be conducted via a single transferable vote electoral system, meaning that candidates are ranked in order of preference. This makes the results far fairer and more representative and ensures that every vote counts.

Scotland will change a lot in the next five years, and so will the world around us. That is why, on 5 May, it is crucial that we secure as many Green councillors as possible to lead that change and build a fairer, greener future.