The Scottish Greens’ candidate for female co-convener, Zara Kitson, sets out her vision for the future of her party

The independence referendum opened up a new space in politics – a space where people found a voice and discovered their power to change Scotland, and the course of history. Communities abandoned by politics woke up to the opportunity in front of us all. An opportunity to bring power back to the people sold down the river by Thatcher, Blair and a band of out-of-touch, ivory tower politicians. With a swift tick in a box, we had the chance to re-boot Scotland and create a fairer, democratic and sustainable future.

People across Scotland engaged with politics, many for the first time. Finally, we had something to vote for that we could believe in. Young people, women and disempowered communities agitated for, and created a different kind of politics – on their terms. This festival of democracy changed Scotland: politics changed the people, the people changed Scottish politics.

In town halls, on doorsteps, and in televised debates, Scottish Greens presented our vision for a fairer, more democratic, sustainable Scotland, and put our ideas firmly on the map in a big way for the first time ever. People connected with our open and constructive style of doing politics that moves beyond the limiting, confrontational, mud-slinging politics of old.

Believing in what we stand for, and communicating our vision of how to shape a stronger Scotland and world, Greens experienced an unprecedented surge in membership, bringing us to this game-changing point ahead of 2016. New branches have been established across the country, with members active the length and breadth of Scotland. For Scottish Greens there has never been an opportunity like this before, to lay the foundations for making our vision for Scotland a reality.

Greens are upfront and bold in our assertions. Our vision is of a Scotland with power in the hands of local communities; where land, services and our shared resources are owned by the public, for public benefit; a fairer and more equal Scotland where all children have opportunity to grow up safe, happy and healthy; a Scotland that understands people are the most valuable asset in any economy, enshrining workers’ rights, freedoms and protections at the heart of a people’s constitution; a Scotland that is a beacon of peace, free from nuclear weapons; where the principles of democracy reflect reality, with an elected head of state; and of course Scotland must lead the way in renewable energy production, investing in sustainable industries that bolster our local and national economy and wellbeing.

As the country gears up to elect its government, and add new voices to Parliament next year, there is an historic opportunity for Scotland to elect more Green voices than ever before, and strengthen progressive and constructive Holyrood opposition. This new landscape is ripe for diverse, vibrant voices to speak up for a new, truly representative and community-led politics. The Scottish Greens now have the people, the vision, and the opportunity to make a difference: our time is now to take the next leap forward, and ensure every voter in Scotland has the opportunity to shape the work we do in their area, in every region.

Leadership comes in different forms – as well as championing issues important to people and our party, for me it is about enabling other voices to be heard, ensuring everybody has the opportunity and confidence to engage with a vibrant Holyrood campaign, delivering an historic result. My sleeves are rolled up, ready to work with those across the country seeking to ensure that electoral success is embedded in the Green values that unite us: with people and communities at the helm.