Scottish Greens: What next as co-operative Greens finished, but SNP and Humza Yousaf now has another opponent

The Greens will not be pleasant or nice at holding the SNP to account.

The Scottish Greens are set to move back to where they have been most effective as a force in Scottish politics – in opposition, campaigning for their priorities.

There is a distinct fury from Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater that is understandable after being dumped from Humza Yousaf’s Government as the First Minister panics about holding onto his authority.

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The entire cohort of Green MSPs, minus Mark Ruskell who is ill, marched out at Holyrood to issue their anger at being removed from government, accusing the First Minister of essentially pandering to the right wing of his party to keep him in a job.

Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have been removed from the Scottish Government (Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have been removed from the Scottish Government (Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)
Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have been removed from the Scottish Government (Picture: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)

But where does this leave the Greens? In less than a week, they have gone from holding the future of government in their members’ hands to being turfed out on the pavement – and they are not holding back in their disgust.

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Patrick Harvie suggests Humza Yousaf's SNP Government won't last until Christmas...

Ironically, next week, Green MSP Gillian Mackay will have her proposed legislation for buffer zones outside abortion clinics meet its first Holyrood test – a Green priority pushed forward without the involvement of the Scottish Government.

The Greens have been effective as an opposition party. In the last parliament under Nicola Sturgeon’s administration, the Greens held a powerful position by lending support to annual budgets in return for their priorities being included.

If Humza Yousaf’s Government makes it to December, that same help will still be required – and will be by any SNP successor. But don’t expect the Greens to be nice or happy about it. They will demand the SNP fund their priorities.

Also by Christmas, the Scottish Greens will likely be under new management. Mr Harvie said if his party’s members decided to rip up the Bute House Agreement, he would resign as co-leader of the party. Asked on Thursday if he will quit, he said it was “another question for another time”. But that question will not go away.

In government, the Greens have continued to shout about what they care about. But their priorities have repeatedly been brushed aside by Mr Yousaf.

The deposit return scheme was doomed before it was slyly handed to Ms Slater as part of the Bute House Agreement, but it looks set to stay on the shelf for years after the UK government pushed it back to at least 2027.

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Mr Harvie’s heat in buildings proposals, set to cost at least £33 billion, are yet to move forward and the plans for highly protected marine areas, set out as a Bute House Agreement policy, were thrown in the bin.

The past week has been a particularly bad one for the Greens. Utterly embarrassed by the Scottish Government finally acknowledging its 2030 legal climate target is toast alongside a pause on puberty blockers and delayed funding for gender identity services was too much to take for Green members.

Expect the Greens to ramp up their demands on climate and transgender rights. But don’t expect them to be pleasant when the SNP rows back on its pledges. The era of the co-operative Greens is over, but it is likely the activist Greens as opponents of the SNP will return ever louder.



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