Scottish Election 2021: Greens' radical policies need much greater scrutiny given they could be in government within days – Scotsman comment

It is often said in business that the other party in a negotiation must be aware you are prepared to walk away if the terms of the deal are not to your liking.

Patrick Harvie, seen visiting a Glasgow bar after lockdown restrictions were eased, may demand considerable influence in government before agreeing to form a coalition with the SNP (Picture: John Devlin)

It is probably with this in mind that Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, has said that coalition negotiations with the SNP in the event that they fail to achieve a majority in next week’s elections would be a “very difficult conversation”, conceding only that “party members” would be willing for him to talk turkey with Nicola Sturgeon.

If so, this suggests a level of political savvy greater than perhaps the Greens have demonstrated in the past.

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A coalition between the SNP and Greens on favourable terms to the latter means their policies stand a much greater chance of becoming law than under the present informal arrangement. That means they need to be subject to considerably greater scrutiny.

The SNP manifesto was notable for the number of its free giveaways – from dentistry to bikes for school children – but the Scottish Greens would go further.

For example, while bus travel is set to become free for everyone under the age of 22, the Greens want to extend this to 26 and under. And that's not all. Their manifesto says “we believe in free public transport more generally, and the next step should be similar concessions for rail travel”.

They also want to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in just five years’ time, impose a frequent flyer tax specifically designed to reduce air travel, and would seek powers from the UK government to “introduce a comprehensive Universal Basic Income pilot”.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Harvie stressed the Greens would “not be part of an administration that was unconcerned about closing the inequality gap in our society, an administration that simply blithely said free market capitalism, let it rip”.

Dramatically increasing government spending while at the same time introducing measures that would harm the economy suggests policies based more on hope than hard reality. And rather than dogmatically viewing capitalism with suspicion, our leaders need to be prepared to harness market forces in the fight against climate change.


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