I’m delighted to be able to tell you that this morning, I have become a member of the Scottish Green Party.
I left the Scottish National Party in October 2012 because I could not support the party’s new policy of seeking membership of the NATO nuclear alliance for an independent Scotland. And of course the Scottish Greens have an impeccable track record as campaigners for peace.
But since then, I have worked alongside Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone, as well as independent colleagues Jean Urquhart, the much-missed Margo MacDonald, and now John Wilson, as part of the Independent/Green group in the Scottish Parliament.
I have seen the Greens’ co-convenor Maggie Chapman in action when I was supporting her campaign for a seat in the European Parliament earlier this year.
And of course I have campaigned alongside brilliant and committed grassroots Green activists, as well as those of the SNP, SSP, and no party affiliation, in the referendum.
The more I have seen of the Greens, the more I realised I have been a Green all my life – I just didn’t know it yet.
I saw that my values are Green values: social and environmental justice, democracy and integrity, internationalism and peace.
I bear no ill will towards the SNP, where I still have many great friends.
But the great discovery of the past two years has been that the passions that brought me into political activism – self-determination and peace – no longer only have a single party to champion them.
And on a whole host of issues, from NATO to corporate taxation, from climate change to local democracy, I have found that it is the Greens that share my beliefs most closely.
So I’m hugely excited to be joining them as a member this morning, especially as part of a surge that has seen 5,000 other Scots do the same over the last few weeks.
However, I think it would be wrong of me to sit as a Green MSP without you having voted for one.
So I will continue as an independent MSP until the end of this session of parliament next year.
As I have done up to now, I will vote in accordance with the manifesto I stood on in 2011, and with my own conscience and judgement on issues not covered by the manifesto.
I’ll be putting my name forward to be selected as a Green candidate for the Highlands and Islands for 2016. I make no assumptions about that: it’s for the local members to decide who their candidate will be, and for you to decide whether to re-elect me. But I really do hope to carry on serving the region after 2016.
I want to thank the Scottish Greens for my welcome to the party today, which has been warm, generous, and enthusiastic.
And if you feel you share the values I talked about, I want to invite you to join the Greens with me.
Thank you for the continued pleasure and honour of serving as your MSP.