THE Scottish Greens are looking to capitalise on the fall-out from Liberal Democrat involvement in the Westminster coalition with the Tories by winning a seat in Europe
The party gathers in Inverness this weekend for its annual conference, buoyed by the belief it can replicate nationwide its experience in Edinburgh's council elections last year, when it doubled its number of councillors and ended up with a share of the vote double that of the LibDems. The thinking is that if that can be done in Edinburgh, why not nationwide?
The conference will not simply be about the independence referendum, said party co-convener and Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie: "Some people are forgetting this, there's an election to go before then. There's the European election and that's an important one for us.
"Historically, we always had stronger votes in European elections, and we need to push that a little bit further in order to take our first MEP's seat. Everybody expects the Liberal Democrat vote to be down. They will probably lose their seat, and that last seat is likely to go perhaps Green.
"Ukip think they might take it, but I would be surprised if they did, so there is an opportunity there. I think it is unlikely the SNP will take three seats out of the six, so there is a real opportunity for us to take that step forward."
Mr Harvie said all Scots would get a chance to influence the Greens' European campaign along with all its sister parties across the continent, as online open primaries would be held to select the two Green politicians who will be the public face of next year's campaign.
"Our job right now is to develop the party with the campaigning capacity to turn latent Green support into Xs on pieces of paper at election time," he said.