Greens plot campaign to oust Aberdeen University rector as Holyrood candidate

Maggie Chapman
Maggie Chapman

Scottish Green Party members have launched a campaign to try and oust Aberdeen University rector Maggie Chapman as a Holyrood election candidate for the north-east.

A total of 20 people have signed a petition calling for the Zimbabwe-raised City of Edinburgh councillor to vacate the top spot on the regional list to allow the selection of a local candidate.

A source described Ms Chapman as a “carpetbagger” who had little local knowledge or understanding of the challenges people face in the north-east region, which stretches from Dundee to Aberdeenshire.

They said the Napier University animal and plant science lecturer, who has jointly led the Scottish Greens with Patrick Harvie since 2013, had a “brass neck” for even suggesting to people that she could effectively represent them.

“There is concern about having a candidate who has no connection to the area, who has never lived there and is elected in another part of Scotland,” added the source.

“There is a credibility problem putting up someone from outside the region and claiming she can represent people.”

Maggie Chapman at Aberdeen University.
Maggie Chapman at Aberdeen University.

The petition has been signed by members of the Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Angus Green Party branches.

Signatories include Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford, former shire councillor Debra Storr, Shiona Baird, who was a north-east MSP between 2003-2007, and Rhonda Reekie, who stood in the Aberdeen Donside by-election in 2013.

An accompanying note states that the branches “request that elections and campaigns committee immediately instigates the de-selection process against Maggie Chapman the top candidate for the north-east region Holyrood elections.”

The Greens have little chance of winning any constituency seats at the election next year and their only hope is electing MSPs on the regional list.

The party’s two existing parliamentarians, Mr Harvie and Alison Johnston, are standing for re-election and are at the top of the Glasgow and Lothians lists respectively.

This means that Ms Chapman, who became rector in November last year and has been a councillor since 2007, has been forced to look further afield to try and win a seat.

She pointed out that she was elected top of the regional list following a ballot of “all” north-east Green Party members in March.

“I am fully committed to working, as a team, with all of those members, to achieve the best ever Green result in the north-east next May,” she added.

“Next month I will be taking up a new part-time job in Dundee in the meantime and basing myself in Dundee as part of that, as well as continuing with my duties as rector of Aberdeen University.”

Mr Ford is second on the north-east regional list and Ms Storr, co-convener of the Green Party’s Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire branch, is number five.

Independent MSP John Finnie, who left the SNP over its new position on Nato membership and later joined the Greens, is the party’s number one candidate on the Highlands and islands list.