The Greens say they are a “rising force” in Aberdeen where the oil and gas industry supports almost 50,000 jobs.
The party undoubtedly faces one of its toughest challenges winning round voters in the Granite City – known as the oil capital of Europe.
But activists in the north-east feel buoyed by the latest council election results which saw the Greens double their vote share across the city.
Although they failed to get any councillors elected, first preference votes for the party rose city-wide from around 2.2% in the 2017 council election to over 5% this year.
We doubled the @scottishgreens vote across Aberdeen. We are a rising force in this city’s politics.
Next time, we will win seats! 💚 https://t.co/izJa8SDXAN
— Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire Greens (@AberdeenGreens) May 7, 2022
One of the party’s best chances of a breakthrough this time round was in the George Street/Harbour ward, where Guy Ingerson was standing.
I think there is a change in tide.
– Guy Ingerson
The former oil and gas worker, who narrowly missed out on being elected, said “more people are voting Green than ever before”.
He said: “I think there is a change in tide.
“It’s something we can build on. I think in the next five years a breakthrough is definitely on the cards.”
Across Scotland, the party recorded their best council election results yet, winning 35 wards overall, with notable gains in the central belt.
Mr Ingerson, who is vice co-convener of Aberdeen Greens, puts this down to three factors: voters trusting the party, having Greens in government, and the public becoming “more environmentally conscious”.
‘Not going anywhere’
The Green activist acknowledges the north-east is a challenge but said he is “not going anywhere” and relishes the opportunity to win votes in the city.
He said: “I’m going to keep going, keep pushing, keep fighting because I really believe Aberdeen needs green voices both at a local level and parliament level.
“It’s more crucial now than ever before, especially as we look at Just Transition.
“For me the solutions are very obvious, very clear and very in front of us whereas the other parties equivocate and instead of looking at what is the problem, what is the solution, they’re looking at what will get us elected, what won’t.
“And I think that’s the biggest difference. We missed out this time but I think people appreciate us being clear, honest and concise about the solutions and challenges that lie ahead.”
The Tories have repeatedly criticised the Greens for “demonising” the oil and gas industry and risking thousands of jobs in their push to “phase out” oil and gas production in the North Sea.
But Mr Ingerson said people are getting weary of “vitriolic politics” and want something new from their elected representatives.
He said: “I think people are seeing right through that and that’s reflected in the elections last weekend.
“We’re already planning ahead for the next five years. We’ve looked at things that we’ve done really well and we’ve looked at the things we could do better and we’re already preparing for the next fight.
“We’re looking forward to the next five years. We’re feeling very confident, we’ve got some excellent results in the city which we can build upon so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Tories hit back
Sarah Cross, Conservative councillor for Bridge of Don, said it is a “fair assessment” the Greens have demonised the industry.
She pointed to comments by Green co-leader Patrick Harvie who suggested only the “hard right” now support new oil and gas exploration.
The councillor added: “In the council elections, local Conservatives campaigned for a positive vision in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“I absolutely refute any claims about vitriol.
“It is the Scottish Greens who are truly negative in the north-east – trying to block hopes for the energy transition, freeports, and dualling the A96.”