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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 17:25 GMT
Scots Greens 'need to do better'
Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Patrick Harvie
Patrick Harvie said the Greens needed to do more

The Greens may be crucial in getting key Scottish government plans through parliament, their conference has heard.

The party hoped to return at least 10 MSPs in the May election, but instead saw their Holyrood complement drop from seven to two.

One of the survivors, Patrick Harvie, said the SNP minority administration may have to rely on Green support for its first budget.

He also said the Greens had to up their game in order to regain lost ground.

In one of the main conference speeches, Mr Harvie said the party, which gained eight council seats in the May election, was "still standing" despite the Holyrood poll result which left him "genuinely shocked".

If we want to regain the ground that we've lost and more besides, there are some things that we need to do
Patrick Harvie
Green MSP

He told delegates in Edinburgh that so much of Scottish politics had become dominated by the fight for the middle ground, adding: "In that land of the bland, there can be no vision, no challenge, no hope for the future."

Mr Harvie claimed that if Scottish ministers wanted to pass their forthcoming first budget, or their council tax plans, the tight party numbers could mean two votes making all the difference.

He said: "It's in nobody's interests to be seen as the wreckers but if the SNP want to pass their budget, they need at least some support and if they want ours they will need to convince us that the most damaging aspects of their spending plans have been, at the very least, tempered."

Mr Harvie asked rhetorically whether the Scottish Greens could support a budget which did not cut aviation subsidies or back road building schemes without assessing alternatives.

Turning to the state of the party post-election, Mr Harvie said he would never again take a single vote for granted.

'Go further'

He said: "Expecting it isn't enough. Even earning it isn't enough.

"Very often I hear Greens say things with the best of intentions like 'our single greatest asset is that we're right' as though that will simply result in eventually everybody realising we're right.

"Being right isn't enough either," he added.

"If we want to regain the ground that we've lost and more besides, there are some things that we need to do, some of which don't come naturally to us, some of which won't feel comfortable to us."

Mr Harvie said he did not know of a successful political party which did not ask people for money or strive to reach out beyond its core supporters.

He added: "These are things we've begun to do in the last few years. We need to go further."

SEE ALSO
Greens focus on new environment
10 Nov 07 |  Scotland
New co-leader for Scottish Greens
24 Sep 07 |  Scotland
SNP and Greens sign working deal
11 May 07 |  Scotland
Glasgow's first green councillor
04 May 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Smaller parties suffer at polls
04 May 07 |  Scotland
Greens seek to increase MSP tally
03 Apr 07 |  Scotland
Greens look towards May election
03 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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