Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Sturgeon’s independence allies backing ‘disastrous plan to make Scots poorer’

Nicola Sturgeon 'won't hurtle into referendum now' says expert

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Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon perceived the results from the Holyrood election as a “mandate” for a second independence referendum. Although the Scottish National Party (SNP) fell one seat short of a majority, when combined with the eight seats from the pro-independence Scottish Green Party, Ms Sturgeon believes she has the backing to push for Indyref2. This support will be particularly important to the SNP, especially as Westminster has resisted Ms Sturgeon’s calls to get Scottish voters back in the ballot box so far.

While it appears the First Minister’s largest battle will be against Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who has dubbed Indyref2 “irresponsible and reckless” — some believe another storm could soon be brewing in Holyrood.

Leading think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute, believes the Greens’ hardline agenda may rile traditional SNP voters.

Speaking earlier this month, the think-tank’s deputy director Matthew Kilcoyne said: “The coalition offer by the Greens to the SNP is a disastrous plan to make Scots poorer.

“Voters should take seriously the potential cost of the Scottish Greens’ policies.

“Their plans for higher taxes and more red tape would crush Scotland’s economic recovery.

“Ending oil and gas extraction in the North Sea would deliver a hammer blow to lives and livelihoods in north-east Scotland.”

While the Greens did initially suggest forming a coalition with the SNP, reports claim Ms Sturgeon has ruled that option out.

However, to gain the party’s support to pass Indyref2 through the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister might have to make some crucial compromises.

As co-leader Patrick Harvie has previously told the BBC, the Greens are not “nationalists” unlike the SNP.

He told the BBC: “If they [the SNP] wanted to talk about some kind of closer working arrangement — and there’s a wide range of options for what that might be — I suspect we’d be willing to have the conversation.”

But, Mr Kilcoyne compared the Greens’ proposed land reform plans to those which triggered the economic downfall in Zimbabwe back in the Eighties.

Attacking the Green manifesto, he explained: “It’s a fluffy way of saying state-backed seizure of private property, scaring away investment.

“Pursued to the ideological purity of the far-left, it risks turning Scotland into Zimbabwe of the North Sea.”

While the Greens’ manifesto did promise to hold Indyref2 within the next five years, a policy which would suit Ms Sturgeon, it also included pledges to “phase out North Sea oil and gas production”, and a “rapid” move away from fossil fuels in an effort to create a “green industrial age” instead.

Mr Harvie has also said: “I think a lot of people do recognise there is a real value in having Greens in parliament who’ll push the SNP out of their comfort zone.

“They do it constructively by putting forward good, positive, workable ideas for making life better for people in Scotland.”

However, their radical policies have polarised some voters.

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The Scottish Gamekeepers Association even wrote to Ms Sturgeon in April, pleading with her not to accept the Greens’ policies after the party proposed ending all game management and fishing in Scotland.

In an open letter, Chairman Alex Hogg wrote: “I fully appreciate that this [Green] manifesto is not your party’s own.

“I am aware though, that any coalition requires policy trade-offs in return for budget support.

“I seek at the very least reassurance from you, on behalf of our worried members, that any future coalition will not see the SNP adopt Green policies which will lead to mass redundancies amongst sectors of the traditional rural workforce of Scotland.”

Speaking in the run-up to the Holyrood election, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also slated his Green opposition and the party’s approach to politics.

He said: “Let’s not pretend they are a cuddly, different kind of politicians.

“Patrick Harvie has done what gets people disillusioned over politics — he has voted through cuts to local government on one hand, then he’s stood outside the very community centres he has helped shut to protect against the closures.”

A former candidate for Alex Salmond’s Alba party also said the Greens could not be trusted to back the independence bid.

Speaking during his own campaign, Chris McEleny said: “I wouldn’t trust Patrick Harvie as far as I could throw him.”

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