Bute House Agreement: Rainbow Greens say power-sharing with SNP cannot continue unless 'dramatic changes' made

Scottish Green Party members are due to vote on whether or not to remain in government after climate change targets scrapped and use of puberty blockers paused

The head of the Rainbow Greens says deciding whether or not to remain in the Bute House Agreement is the “most important debate” in the party’s history.

Scottish Green party members will vote over coming weeks on whether or not to leave the power-sharing agreement with the SNP and for its co-leaders to step down as government ministers. This comes after the Government ditched its 2030 climate change targets, and after the use of puberty blockers was paused at the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jen Bell, co-convener of the Rainbow Greens, the party’s LGBT+ wing, said the Bute House Agreement could not continue as it was.

Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater arrive at Bute House in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA WireScottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater arrive at Bute House in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire
Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater arrive at Bute House in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire

“This is a culmination of issues – we are seeing concession after concession on issues that matter to us, like scrapping climate targets and the attacks on gender-affirming care,” Ms Bell told the BBC. “We’ve got to the point where we as a party need to have a serious discussion about the Bute House Agreement.”

She said when the Bute House Agreement was signed in 2021, there was a promise to “transform” trans healthcare. But she claimed the opposite had in fact happened.

Last week it was announced the Sandyford clinic had paused the prescription of puberty blockers for trans children under the age of 18 in the wake of the Cass Review, which said there was “weak evidence” to support their use.

Ms Bell said: “Unless something drastically changes, I don’t see how it can continue as it is. I don’t see how the membership can go into it with enthusiasm and confidence. This is the most important debate we will have in the history of the entire party, but it is clear the way things are, the status quo, is not an option.”

Lorna Slater, the party’s co-leader and a government minister, said while the decision was up to party members, the Greens could achieve more in government.

She said: “There have been frustrations and anger in the last few weeks and there is fear in Scotland not meeting its 2030 climate targets. But we have brought in a ban on new incinerators, banned single-use plastics, protected budgets for NatureScot, put in funding for nature restoration and improved recycling, and brought in an emergency rent freeze.

“We’ve done loads and we’ve still got loads to do with our natural environment Bill, heat in buildings Bill, and the housing Bill, which will bring in tenants’ rights.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We have much more influence in government when we are in the room. In opposition, we would be looking at legislation being watered down and government not being as strong on things that are supported by the Scottish Greens. I don’t know if that’s where our members want to go.”

On the Cass Review, Ms Slater described it as “heart-breaking” for those still waiting to start treatment using puberty blockers. She said the report by Dr Cass was being “weaponised” by those who were anti-trans and wanted to remove trans people from public life.

Ms Bell stressed the party could still achieve things outside of government, pointing to free bus travel for under-22s, which she said was a “victory” achieved before the Bute House Agreement.

Former MSP and government minister Alex Neil meanwhile told the SNP to call time on the agreement.

Mr Neil, who served in both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond’s Cabinets, said the SNP and the Scottish Greens should go their “own separate ways”, claiming voters thought the SNP had “lost the plot a bit”.

He told the BBC the “Greens seem to be dominating” in government and “the SNP seems to just be accepting anything that the Greens propose, no matter how electorally unpopular it is”.

A ministerial statement on the Cass Review is due later this week. A decision on the future of the Bute House Agreement will be taken in coming weeks.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.