Scottish Greens to join SNP in government after members back coalition deal

‘This is a really extraordinary moment for the Green movement’ said Patrick Harvie

Tom Eden,Lucinda Cameron
Sunday 29 August 2021 02:29
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<p>First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater</p>

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater

The Scottish Greens will join the SNP in the Scottish government after party members voted in favour of the "historic" power-sharing deal.

The agreement will see the Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater become government ministers – the first time any Green representative has held political office in a government in the UK.

The first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced the plans for the parties to work together, having agreed a "transformative" policy programme.

The deal was approved by Scottish Green party members at Saturday’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) following a two-hour debate, and then formally ratified as required by the party’s constitution.

With a small number of proxy votes still to be counted, at 2.30pm on Saturday, 1,169 members (83 per cent) had backed the deal, 234 voted against and nine abstained.

Negotiated over the summer after the SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in May’s election, the agreement involves a shared policy platform for the Scottish government.

This includes an agreement to pursue another vote on Scottish independence before the end of 2023, if the threat of coronavirus has subsided, as well as a raft of environmental policies and a commitment to implement rent controls.

The deal stipulates that public disagreement between the parties would only be allowed on a set of 10 agreed topics, such as aviation policy, green ports, direct financial support to businesses involved in the aerospace, defence and security sectors, field sports and the economic principles related to concepts of sustainable growth and inclusive growth.

However, speaking during the EGM, Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer insisted that the list of subjects could be changed if further agreements or disagreements emerge.

Following the party’s approval of the deal, Mr Harvie said there "could not be a more important and more urgent moment for Greens to enter government and take green politics to the next level".

Ms Slater said: "This will be the first time that we have Greens in government in the UK and it will allow us to act as never before to tackle the climate crisis, the housing crisis, and the recovery of our economy after the pandemic."

She said the the Scottish Green have "always been a constructive opposition in Holyrood" and added: "This deal will allow more to do than we’ve ever done before, implement rent controls in Scotland, create a new national park and really accelerate the development of our renewable energy industry so we will make a significant change in the next five years."

The draft power-sharing agreement was formally announced by Ms Sturgeon and the two Scottish Green co-leaders at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, on 20 August.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am delighted that members of both the Scottish Green Party and the SNP have agreed that we should work together in the Scottish government to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland. This historic agreement will provide a strong platform for the transformative programme we want to deliver.”

The Scottish Conservatives called the deal a “coalition of chaos” focused on independence, while Scottish Labour said the "coalition of cuts" is a "disaster for Scotland".

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "This coalition of cuts is formalising a long-standing agreement where Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP hammer our public services and the Greens nod along.”

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