HUMZA Yousaf said last week that putting your cross next to a Scottish Greens candidate at the upcoming Westminster election would be a “wasted” vote. It’s no surprise that the leader of a rival political party would say such a thing so as to encourage voters to vote for his party instead, but Yousaf couldn’t be more wrong.

Would the First Minister have said that a vote for the SNP was a “wasted vote” throughout the 1950s and 60s? Similarly, was a vote for the Green Party of England and Wales in Brighton Pavilion a “wasted vote” throughout the 1990s and early 2000s?

In 1997, the Green candidate in that constituency – Caroline Lucas’s seat for the last 14 years – received just 2.6% of the vote, lower than a number of Scottish Greens candidates for Westminster elections in the 2010s.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that parties, even those who may recognise their low chances of electing their candidate at a given election, will sti

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This would build legitimacy in that constituency for future elections, to give voters the choice to vote for their party at every opportunity, and to send a clear message to other parties that a sizeable number of voters care enough about their party’s policy priorities to give them their votes.

It’s that approach that resulted in the Green Party of England and Wales making history by electing Lucas as its first MP in 2010 after consistently increasing its vote: from 2.6% in 1997, to 9.3% in 2001, 21.9% in 2005 and finally 31.3% in 2010.

Since her election, Lucas has increased her vote share in every election, receiving a resounding 57.2% of the vote in 2019. By playing the slow game and demonstrating over time the power of Green voices in Parliament, Lucas and the Greens multiplied their vote share in Brighton by 22 times in as many years.

In 2007, with the introduction of proportional representation and single transferable votes with multi-member wards for Scottish local authorities, the Scottish Greens won their first seats in the councils of Glasgow and Edinburgh, including in Hillhead ward in Glasgow with the election of Martha Wardrop (below).

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Similarly to Lucas, Wardrop consistently increased her vote share in the 2012 and 2017 local elections, culminating in 2021 when Hillhead became the first ward the Scottish Greens won outright, with the highest vote share of any party in the ward at 36.2%.

This was followed up at last month’s by-election in the ward when Councillor Seonad Hoy was elected, making history as the Scottish Greens’ first-ever by-election winner and making Hillhead the first council ward in Scotland to be represented by two Scottish Green councillors.

This historic win was achieved not just by activists on the ground in 2024 but by the huge amount of hard work which Wardrop and party members have put into Hillhead since 2007 and before.

It’s clear – whether from Brighton in 2010, Hillhead in 2024, or the electoral success of the SNP from the 1940s onwards – that no election can ever be taken for granted, and that parties such as the Scottish Greens must stand in as many constituencies as we can to build our movement and offer voters the chance to put Green voices in parliament – both now and in the future.

And Green voices are desperately needed. Voting Green at this year’s General Election isn’t just about building our movement for the future – it’s about making sure we have a future in the first place.

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After more than a decade of Conservative rule in the UK, change is desperately needed – but with the likely victors in the form of Keir Starmer’s Labour offering little more than a change of tie colour, it’s essential that voters have other options on the ballot paper.

Voting Green isn’t just about electing Green MPs – it’s also about sending a message. It’s about showing the clear demand for climate action, queer liberation and an end to the capitalist status quo upheld by these other parties. It’s about making clear to the SNP, Labour and any other party standing against in this election that if they want Green voters to lend them their votes, they’re going to need to work hard for them.

With Labour drifting further and further to the right and the SNP’s broad church containing a number of parliamentarians who might look more at home in the Tories were it not for their stance on independence, these parties can’t take any vote for granted.

If voters demonstrate the clear demand for Green policies at the ballot box, even if it doesn’t result in a Green MP, it will send a clear message to the MP who is elected that they’ll need to work hard to win back those voters at the next election.

And the best way for them to do that is by implementing and advocating for Green policies. Voting Green forwards the Green agenda, whether it results in an MP or not.

The National: Scottish Greens: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

It’s this approach which – regrettably – the right-wing has been particularly successful at. David Cameron’s fear of Ukip appealing to Conservative voters at the 2015 General Election is what led him to commit to the Brexit referendum – Ukip won on their core policy ask, despite only electing a single MP.

We on the left can’t ignore this – and with a right-wing Starmer-led government on the horizon and an unambitious SNP whose most transformative policies in the Scottish Government have only come about as a result of – you guessed it – pressure from the Greens, it’s critical we do everything we can to get Green policies on the agenda. Voting Green is the single best way to do that.

The broken first-past-the-post system is undemocratic and unfit for purpose and makes it far harder for smaller parties such as the Greens to get the representation in Parliament that voters want us to have.

Even so, there’s no such thing as a “wasted vote” – voters should support the candidate that represents their views best. Best case scenario, it leads to an elected MP (whether immediately, or by building the case for a future election).

Worst case, it still sends a clear message to the successful candidate that if they want your vote in future, they’ll need to work for it.

If you want Green policies to be on the agenda at Westminster, the solution is simple: vote for them.