By Democrat reporter
The Scottish Greens believe they are on track to beat Labour at next year’s Holyrood election.
Co-leaders Patrick Harvie, from Dumbarton, and Lorna Slater are using the party’s virtual autumn conference to rally supporters.
The Greens won six seats at the last Scottish Parliament election and they say they could be on course for their best ever result next May.
Ms Slater said: “Maybe we can catch Scottish Labour. The momentum is behind us.”
The party argues that Green MSPs have used their influence to push the minority SNP government into tax changes, more funding for local services and free bus travel for young people.
‘Make that dream a reality’
The Greens’ aims include investing in the public sector, tackling inequality and protecting the environment.
Ms Slater said: “Many SNP supporters are starting to realise that it is the Scottish Greens who have been making Scotland fairer and greener for the last four years.
“Can we grow our numbers in eight months, all over Scotland? Sure we can. The opinion polls have shown we can do this. Maybe we can catch Scottish Labour. The momentum is behind us and we can do the work needed to do to make that dream a reality.”
She added: “The Greens have the ideas for our future. We have the plans to rebuild the public sector. We want to secure new jobs, tackle inequality and protect our planet. You don’t find hope in targets. You find hope in action.”
Her comments came as she insisted the Greens were the only party with the policies in place to tackle the looming climate change emergency.
She spoke about the “triple threat of Brexit, a global pandemic and the increasingly evident climate catastrophe”.
She added: “It’s clear that people want solutions, we want to see a future that isn’t bleak, the Greens can provide that.”
In his speech, Mr Harvie challenged ministers to legislate to bring in free bus travel for young Scots if a scheme that has already been agreed cannot be introduced in the first few months of next year.
He hailed the move to introduce free bus travel for under-19s – included in the most recent budget deal between his party and the Scottish government – as a “massive step to a fairer and greener Scotland”.
While the policy was originally supposed to come in from January, Mr Harvie said: “We understand that the challenges public transport is facing due to the pandemic have had to take priority.”
But he added: “I am still confident this policy can and still will be delivered in 2021.
“I will go further by challenging the Scottish government to accept if it can’t be done in the first few months of next year due to Covid, then we must legislate before the election to place a duty on ministers not only to meet but exceed what they have already agreed to, by extending free bus travel up to the age of 25.
“Make no mistake, free bus travel for young people is a massive step to a fairer and greener Scotland – it means students will save hundreds of pounds in travelling to their college course, it means families living in poverty can plan a day trip. It means a whole generation can grow up seeing public transport as their option of choice.”