Nicola Sturgeon quizzed over 'trust' of Green Party
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Members of the Holyrood pro-independence party will vote today on whether to put their party into government for the first time in the UK, as part of a deal with the SNP. The deal will see co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater becoming ministers.
But leading Holyrood politicians and commentators issued stark warnings ahead of the crucial vote with fears the agreement could decimate the Scottish economy.
Veteran broadcaster and political journalist Andrew Neil, said: “These are not your average Greens.
“The Scottish Greens are a radical-Left amalgam of 21st-century hard-line eco-activism and old fashioned Marxist class war – anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-monarchy, anti-individual freedom, anti-car, anti-UK, anti-wealth and, above all, anti-economic growth.
“They make the Greens south of the border sound sensible by comparison.
“So why is Sturgeon welcoming them into her tent and giving such extremists their first dose of power?”
Mr Neil claimed the deal will “easily wreck Scotland” and stressed the party was led by “inexperienced chancers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater”.
He concluded: “To make common cause with an anti-growth party like the Greens will hardly burnish her pro-business credentials.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “This agreement looks to be pretty thin gruel for the Greens and confirms that for them, independence comes first before even the climate emergency.
“Voters who want a party determined to fight that emergency without the baggage of nationalism should switch to the Lib Dems.
“They’ll now have to carry the can for the many failures of the SNP and there can be no question that they are now part of government and should not in any way be treated as part of the opposition when it comes to parliamentary business.”
Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative Constitution spokesperson, said: “After failing to win a majority, she has had to turn to the extremist Greens to try and drag Scotland through another bitter referendum at a time of an economic crisis.
“That is completely reckless when we should be 100 percent focused on protecting jobs, rebuilding our communities and fully remobilising our NHS.
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“Independence will always trump everything else for Nicola Sturgeon and her Green allies, even as we only just begin to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.”
According to the Greens’ internal rules, if the membership rejects the agreement the deal cannot go ahead.
The SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has already backed the deal.
Ahead of the extraordinary general meeting on Saturday required by the party’s constitution, both leaders urged members to support the deal.
They insisted the agreement will be good for Scotland, the country’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis and contains “transformational” policies such as implementing rent controls.
Mr Harvie said on Friday it feels “incredibly exciting” to be on the brink of government.
He added: “Our members will decide whether we’re going to take this historic step and put Greens into government for the first time, not just in Scotland, but in any part of the UK.”
SNP President Michael Russell said of the deal: “The agreement isn’t about us becoming one party with the Greens, the SNP will always be the SNP.
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“It is about us doing politics and governance better to find solutions to the problems that the world faces today.”
An SNP source said of Mr Neil’s comments: “We’ve always thought Andrew Neil wasn’t our biggest fan.
“Freed from BBC rules on balance and impartiality, he instantly expresses a dislike for our party constantly.”
Negotiated over the summer after the SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in May’s election, the deal involves a shared policy platform agreed by both sides which would be pursued by 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.
It covers the majority of domestic policy, with 10 areas excluded as the two parties do not agree on these issues so are not expected to support each other.
The role of gross domestic product (GDP) in measuring economic growth, public funding for defence companies, membership of NATO in an independent Scotland, field sports and the regulation of selling sex are among areas outside the scope of the agreement.
The Greens also pledge to back the Scottish Government in confidence votes and annual budgets – if they have sufficient input into the process.
The members’ vote is expected to end in the early afternoon and will then be ratified by the party’s National Executive Council with a result declaration expected by mid-afternoon.
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