Scottish Daily Mail
Greens ‘are holding FM candidates to ransom’
Threat to leave coalition if new leader won’t fight gender veto
THE Greens have been accused of holding the SNP candidates ‘to ransom’ after Patrick Harvie threatened to quit the coalition.
The party’s co-leader said the deal would be terminated if the new First Minister does not challenge the UK Government’s block on Holyrood’s transgender reform legislation.
The Scottish Greens prop up a pro-independence Holyrood majority following the Bute House deal that saw Nicola Sturgeon welcome them into government.
Allowing self-identification when legally changing gender was a deal-breaking policy within the agreement.
Tory MSP Liam Kerr said: ‘These remarks, as the SNP’s bitter leadership contest draws to a conclusion, suggest that whoever wins, the Greens are going to hold the next First Minister to ransom – just as many feel they did to the outgoing one.’
Only one candidate, Humza Yousaf, has committed to challenging the UK Government’s Section 35 block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, but only if legal advice says there is a chance of success.
Both Kate Forbes and Ash Regan have expressed reluctance to take legal action, arguing it would be unlikely to succeed and would be a waste of taxpayers’ cash.
Yesterday, Mr Harvie was scathing about any prospective SNP leader who would ‘roll over’ and accept the veto. Asked if a failure to challenge the block would be a red line that would cause the Greens to walk away from the coalition, Mr Harvie said it was an ‘absolute priority’.
He added: ‘I genuinely struggle to understand how any candidate who even believes in devolution, let alone independence, could say that one of their first acts would be to roll over and let the UK Government veto fully devolved legislation that’s already been passed by an overwhelming cross-party majority.
‘We’ve made it clear that we think that the challenge to this abuse of the Section 35 order is an absolute priority.’
The Bute House deal, agreed to much fanfare in August 2021, handed Mr Harvie and fellow Greens co-leader Lorna Slater posts as junior ministers. Mr Harvie has imposed rent freezes, while Ms Slater has been attempting to spearhead the implementation of the despised Deposit Return Scheme – a policy that all SNP leadership rivals have pledged to pause or reform.
Mr Kerr, the Scottish Conservative net zero spokesman, said: ‘Patrick Harvie is continuing to try to dictate policy to his SNP friends just as his fringe Green Party has done for the past 18 months since Nicola Sturgeon brought them into government.
‘The Bute House Agreement has been a disaster. Scotland has suffered at the hands of the narrow-minded and incompetent SNP for years and the addition of the Greens has only made it worse.’
Asked about Mr Harvie’s ultimatum, Ms Forbes would not commit to preserving the Bute House deal as it currently stands.
During a visit to the Zakariyya Masjid mosque in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, the Finance Secretary said: ‘I have worked well with the Greens in the past. My approach would be to try to open conversations as quickly as possible and to try to keep them on side.’
Mr Yousaf previously insisted the agreement with the Greens was ‘absolutely vital’, adding: ‘If I am First Minister, I will ensure we keep that pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament.’