If Nicola Sturgeon's SNP forms a coalition with 'thoughtphobic' Greens, it will damage Scotland – Murdo Fraser MSP

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has as self-serving an ego as old-style Scottish politics ever saw, says Murdo Fraser (Picture: John Devlin)Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has as self-serving an ego as old-style Scottish politics ever saw, says Murdo Fraser (Picture: John Devlin)
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has as self-serving an ego as old-style Scottish politics ever saw, says Murdo Fraser (Picture: John Devlin)
When bread becomes stale, it tends to go green. And so it follows that this stale SNP government – after 14 years of stagnation and under-achievement – is going Green around the edges.

Talks between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Greens are said to be at an advanced stage with a coalition on the cards, or at least a pact.

Far from a breath of fresh air much needed by a tired government, Patrick Harvie’s party is likely to make Scottish politics even more fetid with a policy agenda that will not save the planet but will damage Scotland and the lives of ordinary Scots if it were ever pursued.

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His party’s style of machine politics belches bullying and intimidation as a 19th-century mill belched smoke. Tolerant it is not.

When Robin Harper became the first Green member of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 he brought a freshness to Scottish politics. His election was a sign of a new style of discourse which is what Holyrood was set up to deliver. An independent, principled voice, whether you agreed with what he said or not. He broke the mould rather than creating mould.

But that was more than two decades ago. Patrick Harvie may have increased the number of Green MSPs at Holyrood but it has come at a cost – freedom of thought and a willingness to debate are now gone.

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Green members urge party not to deal with 'transphobic' SNP

The last Green of the Harper-style, principled and free thinking, was Andy Wightman. After just one term as an MSP, he is now looking for a job while his former Green colleagues who forced him out of the party seek to traduce him further after he has gone.

Now I am not claiming to be an ally of Mr Wightman – we disagree on many things – but I have always admired his principle, honesty and independence of thought. Those are qualities he maintains and, as he said in a recent blog, the reasons why he has no place in Mr Harvie’s Green Party. The truth is he was forced out.

Mr Wightman’s crimes? To attend a meeting where women campaigning for women’s rights argued that there were only two sexes – men and women. To contemplate voting for the then Labour MSP Johann Lamont’s amendment in the Scottish Parliament asserting essentially the same point. He was chastised for just contemplating voting for it. Since then he has been bullied, insulted, threatened, misrepresented and traduced even by his former leader, Mr Harvie.

So the principle and intellect of Mr Wightman was sacrificed as Mr Harvie pandered to the extremists in his party. If Andy Wightman is a ‘transphobe’, as Mr Harvie and his acolytes have claimed, they are ‘debatephobes’, ‘freedomphobes’, ‘thoughtphobes’.

Under the simpering sanctimony, there lies in the Scottish Green co-leader as self-serving an ego, and a cynicism as large and as ruthless, as old-style Scottish politics ever saw.

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If the Greens remained on the fringes of Scottish politics we could leave it there, a problem for their MSPs and party members to grapple with.

But the First Minister is trying to entice them into government. That could be a problem for us all if she manages to.

Vital road safety projects – like the completion of the A9 dualling – will be at risk if the Greens get near power. Too many lives have been lost on that road to see that programme halted now, yet that could well be the price of the coalition of chaos with the SNP.

It is not just that the Greens will vote to hold another independence referendum that most Scots don’t want, and that will deflect attention from the necessity of re-building our economy after the pandemic.

It is that they don’t want to build the economy. The Scottish Greens oppose growth. They would rather it shrank and all of us received just what they dictate we need to live on.

But that is not where the contradictions of the Scottish Greens end.

Tackling the climate crisis is a matter for us all. The environment now is rightly all-pervading in modern politics. To come up with meaningful solutions requires international co-operation. Climate change does not recognise borders. Yet, the Scottish Greens seek to create one with our nearest neighbours.

Their support for the break-up of the United Kingdom means they are trying to appeal to fewer than half of Scots, when the climate crisis should be the concern of every citizen in these islands, indeed everyone on this planet.

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At the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year, international coalitions will be brought together, to try to persuade the biggest polluters like China and India to agree to international targets.

Whose voice would countries like those be more likely to listen to? The United Kingdom, the fifth largest economy in the world with a key seat on the Security Council in the United Nations, or a separate Scotland with Patrick Harvie as its voice?

He would clearly have to learn to listen to, and accommodate, disparate voices in a fashion different from the way he runs his party. While other Green campaigners seek to ensure that all of us embrace the cause of environmentalism, his outlook is more sectarian.

In Germany there is speculation that after their elections next month the Greens could well form a coalition with the Christian Democrats. The Scottish Greens would never contemplate reaching out beyond their own sanctimony like that.

If the Scottish Greens were more like their European counterparts – moderate, sensible, open to compromise, not obsessed with trans rights – then the prospect of their being in government in Scotland might not cause so much alarm. As it stands, there are many even within the ranks of the SNP deeply concerned about the consequences of giving Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater the keys to the ministerial Teslas.

Murdo Fraser is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife

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