THE Greens are poised for a “fantastic” breakthrough in the forthcoming Holyrood election which could see the party reach a historic high of 11 or 12 seats and join the political mainstream, co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.
And he pledged that the party will “get results” out of the SNP government on key issues such as fracking and fuel poverty – and accused Nicola Sturgeon of failing to provide a “radical” approach to using Scotland’s new tax-raising powers to fight austerity.
It comes as one poll last week put the pro-independence Greens on 10 per cent in the regional list vote for Holyrood, which would translate to a record 11 seats.
“That would be a fantastic step,” Mr Harvie said yesterday. “There are eight regions, I certainly think we can get more than one in some regions. If we’re into that area, if we’re into that ballpark, we’re certainly approaching double figures and for the first time we would have an MSP representing every voter [area] in Scotland.
“Whatever you think of the SNP in government, everyone knows they’re likely to be the biggest party again. They need to be put under pressure and very often they’re at their best under pressure.
“On issues like fracking, on issues like land reform, on issues like rent control, on issues like fuel poverty, we’ve put them under pressure but it’s been constructive pressure, not just saying everything they do is terrible but getting results the way we engage with the Scottish Parliament.”
The Greens have called for a 60p top rate of tax for high earners and have dismissed Ms Sturgeon’s claims that it could see people leave Scotland or change their tax arrangements and see the public purse lose out on millions of pounds in taxes.
The Greens’ proposals would see everyone earning below the average wage of £26,500 pay less and aims to raise an extra £330 million to tackle austerity cuts.
“It’s surprised a lot of people that they’ve not put forward a radical approach to progressive taxation,” Mr Harvie said. “They’re relying on this idea about tax competition – the idea that you simply have to offer wealthy people or higher income people the lowest tax environment, otherwise they’ll disappear.
“I just don’t buy the argument that the majority of people – even in the additional tax band – are the kind of selfish individuals who would uproot their families and disappear, presumably not taking their current job with them and going to another job elsewhere, simply because they don’t want to pay more tax on the highest element of their income.
“Let’s remember we’re talking about what they earn over and above £150,000. These are people who are very wealthy, very high incomes. I think it’s quite reasonable that they’re asked to pay a bit more.”
The SNP has said that high earners could simply change their arrangements by paying their tax on a “capital gains” basis or through share dividends which is not under Holyrood’s control.