Nicola Sturgeon ‘confident’ SNP will embrace deal with Greens as councillor quits

Nicola Sturgeon says she is confident SNP members will embrace her government’s cooperation agreement with the Scottish Greens, but has had to contend with one of her councillors quitting the party in protest.
Nicola Sturgeon is seen during her visit to Scottish Power CumbernauldNicola Sturgeon is seen during her visit to Scottish Power Cumbernauld
Nicola Sturgeon is seen during her visit to Scottish Power Cumbernauld

The deal between the two parties cleared its first hurdle at the weekend as the SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voted unanimously to accept the powersharing deal.

The Greens’ constitution requires that any agreement be voted on by party members before it is accepted.

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The SNP leadership has said its members will be consulted about the process.

Speaking during a visit to the SP Energy Networks training centre in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, Ms Sturgeon said she would be engaging with SNP members in the coming days.

The First Ministersaid Saturday’s NEC meeting had been “upbeat”.

She said: “The degree of enthusiasm for this is really quite tangible.

“I think there’s a recognition that there’s big, transformational things we want to do over this term of the Scottish Parliament.

“Therefore to give us a stable majority, but also to do politics differently and better.

“To focus on areas of agreement between political parties rather than the polarised, divided approach to politics that sometimes characterises debate right now, not just in Scotland but across the world.”

She added: “I’m confident the SNP will embrace this, certainly the feedback I’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

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“I’ll be doing engagement with party members over the course of this week as well.

“I’m optimistic and hopeful the Scottish Green Party will be equally enthusiastic but their internal processes are of course a matter for them.”

The deal between the two parties was published on Friday after months of negotiation and promises to put two Green MSPs into ministerial office.

The two pro-independence parties have also produced a shared policy platform, set out in a 51-page document.

It includes a £500 million Just Transition Fund to move away from oil and gas, a Bill to be introduced on the reform of the controversial gender recognition act (GRA) within a year and a national rent control system which will be implemented by 2025.

Later on Monday morning, it emerged that an SNP councillor for Aberdeenshire was resigning from the party in response to the deal with the Greens.

Councillor Geva Blackett said government policy was being made without concern for the challenges remote rural communities face.

In a message to constituents posted on social media, she said: “With Friday’s announcement that the SNP government have entered a power-sharing deal with the Greens, coupled with the Braemar ambulance situation and the current uncertainty surrounding the future of Aboyne hospital, I have regretfully concluded that my constituents will be best served by me resigning from the SNP, allowing me to speak up with an independent voice.”

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The councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside added: “Many rural jobs are under threat and involvement from the Green Party (who have less than 5% of the Scottish vote yet now have the power to dictate the future of Scotland) will no doubt see an agenda damaging to many of you pushed through to the Statute book with no thought about the wider impact.”

Responding to the resignation, a spokesman for the SNP group said: “While it’s disappointing that Geva has reached this decision, it has been clear for some time that she has had a number of frustrations with the party.

“We wish her well.”