A look at Scotland’s new SNP-Green coalition

By Mary Kate Rylands

In May this year, Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) fell one seat short of claiming an overall majority in the Scottish parliament. Nearly four months later, following a series of protracted talks, the SNP has entered a power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens.

The pact falls somewhere in between a confidence and supply agreement and a formal coalition. It gives Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP control of a pro-independence majority in parliament and allows the Scottish Greens to force policy change in areas most relevant to their manifesto commitments.  The seven elected Green MSPs have pledged their support to the bulk of the SNP government’s policy and in return junior ministerial roles have been given to the Scottish Greens’ co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater.

The Scottish Greens look to be the winners in this situation

The Scottish Greens look to be the winners in the situation. They have ensured they won’t bear collective responsibility: public disagreement between the parties is allowed on a set of ten agreed topics which includes aviation policy, field sports, economic principles of growth, and NATO membership if Scotland becomes independent. This safeguards the Greens from repeating Nick Clegg’s tuition fee disaster of the Lib Dem-Conservative collation era.

In theory, the Greens could be a force for good. They have the power to ‘walk away’ and can leverage that power to push Scotland towards a more environmentally sustainable future. Mrs Sturgeon has pledged to make Scotland net-zero by 2045 but so far had little practical success: greenhouse gas reduction targets have been missed for the last three years running. Nudging by the Greens might help these promises become reality. Amongst other things, the draft shared policy programme sets out ambitions to install additional onshore wind by 2030 and creation of a £500 million fund to support jobs and livelihoods across Scotland during the energy transition.

The Scottish Greens are distinctly different from their European counterparts in that they are a hard left party of extreme ideology

Inevitably, however, this power-sharing deal is going to cause more of a headache for Mrs Sturgeon than it will benefit the environment. Green parties across Europe are evolving to adopt centrist policies coupled with a commitment to combatting climate change. Ireland, Austria, and Sweden all have such increasingly centrist Greens represented in their governing coalitions. The Scottish Greens are distinctly different from their European counterparts in that they are a hard-left party of extreme ideology. They don’t believe in economic growth.

Their proposed policies reveal clear intent to push a socialist agenda and level down – ‘windfall’ taxes on companies who made profits as opposed to losses during the pandemic; powers for communities to purchase land at submarket rates; and a four-day working week with no change in pay. Such actively anti-growth measures as these will only deter businesses from Scotland. They will result in fewer jobs, opportunities and, when combined with snowballing public spending (it is already one and a half times that of England’s) could cause economic capitulation in Scotland.

They have been allowed in the back door and, wherever possible, the Greens will push the SNP to adopt anti-growth policies. In her single-minded obsession with independence, Mrs Sturgeon is accelerating Scotland towards a less prosperous future. Years of increasing economic reliance on state-sponsored jobs, subsidies, and hand-outs have not discouraged voters from the SNP’s utopian dream of an independent Scotland. However, an economic trashing and this might all change – confidence in the SNP, and with it, their nationalist cause, is ripe to be reckoned with.

Image: CC BY-NC 2.0 via Creative Commons.

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