Green About the Gills

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater of the Green party

With few exceptions, this site has not had much occasion to discuss Scotland’s Green party. There have been moments looking for good articles and strategies, but none were to hand when the occasion called for the ‘Scottish angle’. Articles and essays on environmental issues have been contributed from other sources. And yet, there is no arguing that a green party is essential in an age where humankind has polluted the planet, and will soon be faced with its death if we do not stop exploiting the Earth for profit.

But since the Greens agreed to share power with the SNP, (knowing the party corrupted by the Murrells) at Sturgeon’s cynical invitation, and the Greens demand a say in the shaping of the GRR Bill, how do they seem to the public, a good or bad influence? Sturgeon’s plan to block the ALBA party from attaining seats in Parliament never looked more than a vindictive move. Sturgeon seemed able to sideline them in some matters or simply not consult them in others. This might be one factor in the Green’s stock dropping considerably. They have not built up a reputation for a green Scotland with sound plans, ideas or radicalism.

From being a protest party, they turned into an authority on sexual gender, and some claim, with old threads linked to paedophilia groups. No one with common sense will go to an environmental protest party looking for guidance on sexual physiology. The Greens have done little to keep their credentials free of the wrong kind of interest in children’s education. Neither the co-leaders of the Greens have enhanced their reputation co-existing with an SNP that dropped Scotland’s liberty for a mass survey of genitilia. Will Patrick Harvie or Lorna Slater survive the disaster of the GRR Bill, and flawed – to the poor and to businesses – glass bottle return strategy? With a new SNP leader in the waiting, should they stand down, not wait until being chopped, humanely, of course.


by Iain Macwhirter

The 2021 coalition with the Scottish Green Party was supposedly one of Nicola Sturgeon’s key contributions to the independence cause. It seemed to make obvious sense to unite the two nationalist parties. She said an election victory by this coalition would make the case for an independence referendum “cast iron”. But no one asked at the time just what would happen if it fell apart.

The alliance is looking extremely shaky right now as at least two of the candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, are pursuing a policy agenda that is almost guaranteed to make the green ministers, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, “walk”. And even if Humza Yousaf were to win the leadership it seems unlikely that he would be able to defend the coalition after it had been so comprehensively trashed by the other two. They have calculated, correctly in my view, that a large portion of the SNP membership do not sympathise with the Greens and regard them as “woke” interlopers.

The Green co-leader, Patrick Harvie, insisted on gender reform being part of the coalition agreement. It remains the Green “red line”. This means that the coalition will collapse if the front runner in the race to replace Sturgeon, the evangelical Christian and finance secretary, Kate Forbes, goes the distance. 

The Greens are opposed to economic growth in principle and want to “accelerate” the close down the oil and gas industry in the North Sea by the end of the decade. Theirs is a not a world view shared by most members of the Scottish National Party. The whole point of independence is supposed to be to liberate the Scottish economy from the “dead hand” of Westminster rule and increase economic growth. The party has also had great historic affection for the hydrocarbon industry, revenues from which were always regarded as essential to justify the economic case for Scottish independence.

Cynics might say that the SNP has been rather successful in promoting the anti-growth agenda since the Scottish economy has been underperforming the rest of the UK. But this is accident rather than ideological design. The SNP membership wants more growth not less to meet Scotland’s enduring social problems like poverty and homelessness and to shore up the collapsing NHS.

As for oil and gas, many nationalists, including at least two of the current leadership contenders, believe it is senseless to try to halt oil and gas production in the middle of an energy crisis when many Scots can’t heat their homes. The UK used to be self-sufficient in gas as recently as 2003. Now it has to import the stuff from abroad at great cost to the environment and household energy bills. 

Nicola Sturgeon never sounded entirely convincing when, under pressure from the Greens, she opposed development the new oil and gas fields like Cambo and  Rosebank. She seemed to be going through the motions. The First Minister knew that the decisions on production licensing had effectively been made by the UK government. Similarly she could curry favour with environmentalists by opposing nuclear power because any decisions on building new reactors would be taken by the UK prime minister. 

But her apparent willingness to collapse an oil and gas industry that supports 100,000 well-paid jobs was regarded as reckless by many nationalists, not least in the North East of Scotland. Keeping the faith on fossil fuels, even at the expense of delaying Net Zero, is one of the top lines of leadership contender, Ash Regan’s campaign, along with scrapping the Gender Reform Bill. The front runner in the race, Kate Forbes, also thinks the North Sea will remain a valuable part of the Scottish economy during transition to renewables. She is very much pro-growth and is determined to scrap the Green minister Lorna Slater’s much criticised deposit return scheme for bottles and other single use packages as well as dropping proposals to ban acoholic drink advertising.

Most challenging of all for the Greens, Kate Forbes has also said that she will not resist the UK government’s decision to halt the gender reform legislation under Section 35 of the Scotland Act. She accepts that Nicola Sturgeon’s flagship bill is a dead duck. Indeed, in her first TV interview this week she announced, without hesitation, that the trans rapist, Isla Bryson, “is a man”. Ash Regan agrees – along with most Scots.

The third candidate in the lists, the health secretary, Humza Yousaf, managed to duck the Isla Bryson question, until yesterday. He said that the double rapist was “not a genuine trans woman” whatever that means. He has said however that he supports the GRR Bill as it stands and will fight the “undemocratic” actions of the UK government all the way to the Supreme Court.

Equality Act’s protections for single-sex spaces, at least according to the UK government’s lawyers. That the UK Supreme Court would rule in the Scottish Government’s favour, given the recent prison scandals, seems remote. Yet such is the febrile state of the SNP post-Sturgeon that a vocal constituency of nationalists clearly want to pursue this hopeless cause through what nationalist usually refer to as the “English” courts. 

The legions on Twitter have taken to attacking Kate Forbes as a “far right bigot”. “Progressive“ nationalists leapt on her admission that she would have voted against same sex marriage on 2014 had she been an MSP. A number of her erstwhile supporters, including the just transition minister, Richard Lochead, have said that Forbes’ views make her unsuitable for office. It’s not clear how many of the 100,000 SNP members who will decide the leadership result, agree. Ms Forbes has said that she fully supports the right to gay marriage.  She also points out that Angela Merkel did not vote for it, but accepted the legislation in government.  

Such is the state of politics in the age of identity that being a Christian, and supporting what used to be mainstream Christian beliefs, is now regarded a barrier to office. Opposing the GRR Bill is now conflated with opposition to same sex marriage. Yet Forbes’ main rival, Humza Yousaf, is a practising Muslim. The Koran and other Islamic texts regard homosexuality as a deadly sin. Yousaf avoided voting on “equal marriage” in 2014, though he voted for the bill in principle. The minister who was in charge of the equal marriage bill, Alex Neil, Says he “skipped” the final vote because he feared censure from the Glasgow Mosque. This is transcendental hypocrisy of true.

Certainly the Scottish Labour Party are hoping that Yousaf wins. Nicola Sturgeon had reduced Labour to a pale shadow of the party that used to dominate Scotland. In many ways that was her supreme achievement since she came to office in 2014. In the 2015 general election Labour lost 40 of its 41 MPs.  Sturgeon’s SNP won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats. It is still the third largest party in the UK with 45 MPs.  The SNP also dominates the Scottish Parliamemt with more MSPs than all the unionist parties combined.  It even controls the presidency of the  Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities since its success in last year’s council elections. 

Sturgeon was a brilliant communicator. Labour and the Tories, who are even less popular, had a long way to go before taking down the first female First Minister. It never occurred to them that she would take herself down. Nicola Sturgeon has left the SNP fatally divided over gender policy and over her alliance with the anti-growth Greens. It may seem strange indeed that the party of independence is tearing itself apart over transwomen and gay marriage. If a scape goat is needed, the Greens could perform that role since they were leading advocates of the discredited policy

The unionist parties, and the UK government, will say that if the Green coalition was supposed to strengthen the case for independence, as Nicola Sturgeon insisted, its disintegration must surely weaken it. Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater would take with them many of the younger generation of SNP activists, and their departure would lead to claims by Labour that the party has turned its back on Net Zero. Indeed, the Scottish Green activists, who are widely represented on Twitter will accuse the party of transphobia, climate change denial and a Tory lite approach to the economy. It isn’t going to end well.


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3 Responses to Green About the Gills

  1. lorncal says:

    In truth, the Greens have been a disaster for Scotland. The GRRB has all but destroyed the SNP. We simply cannot afford to close the oil industry overnight, and the saving of the planet will have to come from innovation and invention because nothing is big enough now to save it. Of course, we can all do our bit, but tinkering around the edges will not solve the problem more than a very little. Necessity is the mother of invention, and humans almost always rise to the challenge.

    The bottle return scheme was doomed from the start. Does anyone believe that youngsters who throw their loose change on the streets and the older ones who smash bottles in the children’s playgrounds will return them for a small fee? Then, there is the cost to the manufacturing industry at a time when margins are tight and new plant could drive a business into bankruptcy. Something will have to be done, but this scheme is not it.

    It has to be something that people can take pride in doing, and it has to be inculcated in the very young. At one time, children would not have thrown down a sweet wrapper in the street because it was considered to be socially unacceptable. Those days have to make a return. Also, if plastic is to be eradicated, we have to look at how glass might be made tougher but recyclable and lightweight. All those budding, young scientists and engineers in our universities will hold the answer, as they always have.

    The Greens might well take many of the ‘yoof’ with them, but the ‘yoof’ of any generation grow up and grow older, hopefully wiser, then old, too. Other parties would be well advised to vet new members very closely lest the same infiltration take place in their ranks if there is a large exodus from either or both the SNP and Greens. It seems that some in the far left (called the ‘progressive’ left) always appear to carry a piece of pie with them wherever they go, and, if it’s green-coloured, beware; it won’t be good for the digestion.

  2. Howard Cairns says:

    In a country like Australia we can’t afford to stop all oil and coal exploration. We will however be able to use much less of these products as Australia has the largest number of Solar Panels in the world. We need to upgrade our electricity infrastructure to cope with more and more solar inputs. I have ordered an electric car to do my bit.

    The Greens here are not quite as radical as your Green party but they are not far behind. We have Gay marriage now and drink bottle refund schemes and the sun still comes up every day. The Greens and the Independents have more power than they had as the last election showed. The Tory party lost lots of traditional seats to Independents mainly but to some Greens too. Its the way of the future. The Tories will have to move to the middle ground or become even less of a party.

    Here the Labor Party has to negotiate with the independents to pass bills through the Senate which is good as you get more sensible outcomes. They stay away mostly from the Greens. I hope Ash Regan gets the FM position. She sounds like a leader that we need in Scotland.

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