Lorna Slater: who is the Scottish Greens co-leader - and what did she say during the BBC leaders’ debate?

The Green party co-leader went up against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Tory leader Douglas Ross, Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie in the first debate before the Scottish Election

The first televised debate of the Scottish Parliament 2021 election has taken place, with the five leaders of the country’s largest political parties setting out their policies from the same room.

With the 6 May election drawing nearer, the party leaders took part in the BBC Scotland debate in front of a “virtual audience” on Tuesday (30 March) evening.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, went head-to-head with Tory leader Douglas Ross, Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie and Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens.

The leaders of Scotland's five larger political parties, including Lorna Slater from the Scottish Greens, debated the big issues ahead of the Holyrood election (BBC/Getty Images)

As Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie is the most high-profile MSP for the party, not as much is known about Ms Slater within Scottish politics.

So, here is everything you need to know about the Scottish Greens co-leader ahead of the election.

Who is Lorna Slater?

Ms Slater, who was born in Canada before moving to Scotland, was elected as co-leader of the Scottish Greens alongside Patrick Harvie in August 2019.

In doing so, she defeated Maggie Chapman.

The two leaders replaced the previous co-convener position in the party.

As well as her role in Scottish politics, Ms Slater is an electro-mechanical engineer, and works as an engineering project manager for Orbital Marine Power which develops floating tidal stream turbines.

After her election, Ms Slater said she looked forward to using her expertise in marine renewable energy and manufacturing when her party proposed a Scottish Green New Deal.

In 2019, she was selected to take part in the Homeward Bound leadership programme, which involved her spending a year studying leadership and climate change including a three-week visit to Antarctica to see the effects of the crisis in person.

During the May election, Ms Slater will be contesting the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament.

That means going up against the SNP’s Ben Macpherson, who is seeking re-election, as well as Labour's Katrina Faccenda, Conservative Callum Laidlaw and Rebecca Bell from the Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Greens co-leader will also be second on the Lothian regional list for the party.

In her personal life, Ms Slater shares a 15-year-old pet bearded dragon called Bellamy with her husband.

What did she say in the leaders’ debate?

The Scottish Greens support a second independence referendum alongside the SNP, while the three other large parties - the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats - are strongly opposed to one.

During the leaders’ debate, Ms Slater said her party would commit to a referendum taking place within the next Holyrood term in its manifesto.

"Around the room we hear people who are in favour of the union not actually arguing for the union, but instead arguing that the people of Scotland shouldn't have the right to choose,” she said.

The Greens co-leader added: "The Scottish Greens would support a referendum in this term of parliament because we think decisions about Scotland should be made by the Scottish people."

Ms Slater also said that the Covid pandemic had shown the economy had been based on low wages and insecure work.

In her opening remarks, she said Scotland should not revert back to “this broken system”.

And on climate change, Ms Slater called for action, saying: "Science tells us we have less than 10 years before the climate breakdown goes past the point of no return.

“The time to act is now."