Scottish Government to work with Green Party

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, co-leaders of the Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Government said on Friday it has agreed to work with the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group over the next five years.

This agreement will include the nomination of two Green MSPs to be Scottish Government ministers.

The deal formalises the pro-independence majority at Holyrood after the SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in May’s election, and solidifies a timetable for another independence referendum.

The agreement includes a commitment to “hold a referendum on Scottish independence after the COVID pandemic has passed” within the current parliamentary session.

“The cooperation agreement also lists a number of areas that are outwith the scope of the agreement, where both sides have agreed to differ,” said the Scottish Government.

“The draft agreements will now be considered by the respective political parties involved and Ministers will provide an update to Parliament following recess.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government has reached a ground-breaking agreement with the Scottish Green Party that meets the challenges and opportunities of our time.

“The challenges we face have rarely been greater — the climate emergency, recovery from a global pandemic and an assault by the UK government on the powers of our Parliament.

“Today’s politics can too often feel small — polarised, divided and incapable of meeting the moment — and this agreement is intended to change that in Scotland.

“It is about doing politics and governance better to find the solutions needed to solve the problems confronting the world today.

“The spirit of co-operation and consensus-building is very much in keeping with the founding principles of our Scottish Parliament.

“We do not agree on everything but we are coming out of our comfort zones to focus on what we do agree on.

“The agreement delivers bold policy action on pressing issues.

“A commitment to more affordable housing, a better deal for tenants and action to tackle poverty and inequality.

“Steps to accelerate our transition to net zero – more support for active travel, transformation of home energy and a ten year transition fund for the North East of Scotland.

“A focus on green jobs and fair work — and a sustainable recovery from COVID.

“We also reaffirm in this Agreement our shared commitment to securing independence for Scotland, and to giving people the right to choose our country’s future through a referendum.

“It recognises that business as usual is not good enough — we need boldness, courage and a will to do things differently.

“That is what we offer.”

Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “This is a historic moment, which could not come at a more important time.

“We must build a fairer and compassionate country and we must do everything in our power to tackle the escalating climate and nature emergencies to deliver a just transition for all.

“That is what this deal will do. Fundamentally this is a new approach to politics.

“We agree on some things and disagree on others — those distinctive voices can and will remain.”

Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater said: “The stakes could not be higher — with the COP26 climate conference coming to Glasgow, Scotland is in a position show real leadership on climate.

“But this deal is about people as well as the planet.

“Together, we would deliver a new deal for tenants, giving tenants more rights and introducing rent controls to help tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, create a new National Park, and much more.

“That’s why we are pledging to work together to build a greener, fairer and independent Scotland.”

A shared draft policy programme – the Bute House Agreement – has been agreed.

The Scottish Government said the agreement includes commitments to:

  • hold a referendum on Scottish independence after the COVID pandemic has passed, within the current parliamentary session
  • increase investment in active travel and public transport, including a Fair Fares review to provide a realistic and affordable alternative to car use
  • a strengthened framework of support for the marine renewables and offshore wind sectors
  • take forward a ten-year £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray
  • significantly increase the level of the Scottish Child Payment, in order to maximise the impact on child poverty, with the full £20 payment being achieved within the lifetime of the Parliament
  • designate at least one new National Park by the end of this parliamentary session
  • enhance marine environmental protection
  • implement an effective national system of rent controls, enhance tenants’ rights and deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032
  • invest at least £1.8 billion over this parliamentary session in energy efficiency and renewable heating
  • establish two new Scottish Government overseas offices in Warsaw and Copenhagen to promote Scotland’s interests in central Europe and the Nordic countries

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “This is a nationalist coalition of chaos focused on splitting up the country and dividing Scotland with another bitter referendum.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “At long last the SNP and the Greens have formalised the coalition of cuts that has been in action for years.

“This will come as a surprise to no-one, but it is a disaster for Scotland.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon said: “Climate change demands urgent action in all areas of life and we hope that the SNP and Greens working together, including with two Green ministers in Government, will be able to reduce emissions rapidly and ensure a healthy, liveable place for all.”

Woodland Trust Scotland’s public affairs manager Arina Russell said: “There is much to welcome in the agreement as the details emerge. We are especially pleased to see steps addressing the plight of Scotland’s native woods, particularly rainforest.

RSPB Scotland director Anne McCall said: “With Glasgow scheduled to host the world at international climate conference Cop26 in November, the draft co-operation agreement comes at a pivotal moment in history for Scotland and the planet.”