An SNP member on the importance of the Scottish Greens
Last week, Caroline Lucas—following the position of the Scottish Green Party—voted against the Scottish National Party’s amendment for ‘full fiscal autonomy’ in the Scotland Bill, attracting the ire of many SNP supporters. Here, Patrick Mullin—a member of the SNP—discusses why this decision was justified, and the importance of the Scottish Green Party in Scottish politics. Originally published here.
I felt somewhat disheartened by the comments being hurled at the Green Party (England and Scotland) for having the backbone to stick by a position they have always had. I recall some time ago reading an article written by Patrick Harvie in which he clearly explained his position regarding Full Fiscal Autonomy. Caroline Lucas rightly consulted her colleagues in Scotland as to which way she should vote in Westminster and voted against Full Fiscal Autonomy on the basis of what her regional Green Party colleagues advised.
So what is Patrick Harvie’s position (and that of the Scottish Green Party)? It isn’t radical or anti-Scottish devolution, it is simply as follows:
“It makes no sense to have control of fiscal policy without control of monetary policy”.
What has happened is that many SNP supporters have jumped on a bandwagon that is both unjustified and unreasonable. I find it thoroughly refreshing that we have strong alternative views on what an independent Scotland should look like and what is the right thing for Scotland in the meantime.
As an SNP member myself, I will admit that the SNP White Paper disappointed me in a lot of ways prior to the referendum but three key points stood out for me as vital if Scotland gained independence:
- While a currency union may make sense for a short transition period, it is absolutely vital that Scotland breaks away from the Bank of England and the UK Treasury. Scotland should have its own publicly owned central bank with local community banks encouraged across the country.
- Under absolutely no circumstances will I ever support keeping the monarchy. The Republic of Scotland is where I see myself living. I am happy for the monarchy to visit Scotland and will welcome them with open arms when they do so but I do not want a King or Queen as head of State for Scotland.
- An independent Scotland that is intended to be progressive, compassionate and peaceful should NOT be a member of NATO and should NOT own or be forced to house nuclear weapons.
Some might argue that I sound more like a member of the Scottish Green Party than an SNP member and the truth is that a lot of my political and economic views probably mirror the Scottish Green Party but I agree with the SNP on many other issues and I believe Nicola Sturgeon is the right person to take Scotland to the next level. However, vital in the success of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon will be a strong Left ensuring that the SNP are kept honest. The Scottish Greens, the SSP and TUSC are vital in that goal and should not forego any of their political opinion, mandates, views, policies, etc. simply for popularity. Look at the mess “New Labour” has eventually got into by following that approach!
I attended the GE2015 Hustings for Glasgow Central and Glasgow South and must admit that the candidates for both the Scottish Greens and TUSC impressed me greatly and were a vital part of the debate. I’m looking forward to a strong campaign from both parties and the SSP for Holyrood 2016 and look forward to the political debate.
Finally, I would encourage those SNP supporters who have taken offense to the Scottish Greens position to FFA to embrace the fact that we have a strong independence-supporting left-wing alternative in Scotland that will hopefully be challenging the SNP and Labour in a number of seats and ensuring that our representative democracy is truly representative.
I 100% encourage alternative opinions on what an Independent Scotland would look like and it is one of the most frustrating aspects of conversations with unionists (i.e. lack of innovative, creative thinking as to how to improve Scotland either within the UK or as an independent country. I would much rather have a strong debate with the Scottish Green Party about the progressive future of Scotland and what it will look like.
Sorry, I do not agree with Patrick here (“It makes no sense to have control of fiscal policy without control of monetary policy”). There are many entities that have quite a bit fiscal autonomy without monetary independence that do fine, such as the Basque Country, the Faroers, US states, German Laender etc.
The key point is that the monetary authority needs to understand its role in such a situation and act accordingly. (The same goes for the various fiscal authorities in the monetary zone, which need to work together.)
The problem with Greece – which is really what is this about – is that it is in a monetary union where the other fiscal authorities refused to cooperate and where the monetary authority is not supposed to do the role it needs to play in such a situation – that is to act as lender of last resort for all fiscal entities. (The subtext that Draghi understands this problems and has already overstepped his powers to save the Euro in 2012 – ‘Whatever it takes’ – but don’t seem to be willing or able to actually do whatever it takes in 2015.
Of course, the Patrick’s concern is real – after all the UK government has similarly promised not to cooperate – no sterling for an independent Scotland – and if they would really behave like that there would be an equally substantial danger to a fully fiscal autonomous Scotland.
But I think it is bad policy to be against something which fits with what you want just because your opponents are credibly promising to cut off their nose to spite the face…
I disageed with the decision as I want as many powers for Scotland as possible, as a step towards independence.
I have seen a lot of appeals for SNP voters to ‘lend’ the Greens their list vote, and I think this has been a wake up call.
That now looks like a very dangerous gane if you see independence as a priority.
The Greens weren’t needed last time, and the SNP is even more popular now, so it would seem strange for independence supporters to put that at risk.
I agree with many Green policies, but the last thing I want to see is Patrick Harvie blocking a second referendum with unreasonable or divisive conditions.
Would the Greens now block a second referendum if we proposed to stay in a sterling currency zone ??
The way I see it, tbere is plenty of time to argue about the direction of an independent Scotland once we are actually independent.
Well said. Also as an SNP member, the juvenile anti-Green comments by a very few SNP members have been utterly stupid. Patrick Harvie and the Greens are a progressive force in Scottish politics and although I disagree with their position on this, they will get my second vote in 2016.