In his address to the Scottish Green conference, Mr Harvie will say his party is “leading the change” in Scotland, even though it only has six members of the Scottish Parliament. But with Nicola Sturgeon’s minority government relying on the support of the pro-independence Green MSPs to get legislation through Holyrood, the party’s co-convener will pledge to keep challenging the “middle ground agenda”.
But ahead of his speech to delegates at Napier University, Edinburgh, the Scottish Conservatives criticised the influence held by the Greens over the SNP. The Tories claimed recent Scottish Government policy announcements showed that the Green tail was wagging the SNP dog.
The close relationship between the SNP and the Greens has been the subject of criticism, particularly since this year’s general election when Mr Harvie’s party only fought three Westminster seats.
The lack of Green candidates led to suggestions that the party was stepping aside so they would not harm the SNP by splitting the Scottish independence vote. The claim was denied by the Greens.
Earlier this month the Scottish Government delighted Green activists by announcing a fracking ban which will see the controversial energy extraction technique outlawed permanently.
While this week saw Ms Sturgeon pledge to “ensure” that a smacking ban outlined in a member’s bill proposed by Green MSP John Finnie becomes law.
The Greens close relationship with the SNP also came under scrutiny this month when the Scottish Government announced plans to cut Air Departure Tax would be delayed until after Brexit.
The SNP’s long-standing policy is opposed by the Greens, who argue that encouraging more people to fly will harm the environment.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the delay to Scottish Government plans to cut the levy after Air Passenger Duty (APD) has been replaced with a devolved Air Departure Tax was caused by the need for an exemption for passengers who use Highlands and Islands airports to have EU approval.
The SNP’s opponents, however, claimed the delay was an attempt to “pal up” with Mr Harvie’s party ahead of December’s Scottish budget which is likely to depend on Green support.
Ms Sturgeon yesterday vowed to press ahead with plans to explore the introduction of a citizen’s income, one of the Green Party’s key policies.
She made the commitment despite acknowledging that the expensive plan might not be feasible.
Today Mr Harvie will claim that other Scottish politicians are playing “catch-up” with his party when he lists a number of Green policies adopted by the SNP.
In addition to the smacking and fracking bans, he will mention the 20 mph speed limit proposal which has been backed by SNP local politicians in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as Ms Sturgeon’s plans for a publicly-owned not-for-profit energy company.
He will also refer to the reversal of £160 million council cuts, which the Greens extracted from the Scottish Government when it cut a deal with the SNP in the February budget.
Last night Scottish Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “With the recent nonsensical decisions on APD and fracking, it’s no wonder many people believe that their informal alliance is a case of the tail wagging the dog.”