Scottish Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater speaking at a press conference alongside Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

History has been made today as Greens are set to enter government for the first time in the UK. Scottish Green Party members voted to approve the cooperation agreement between the Greens and the SNP.

At an extraordinary general meeting, 88.5 per cent of Scottish Green Party members backed the agreement. The vote will see the Greens enter a formal government arrangement for the first time anywhere in the UK.

While stopping short of a full-blown coalition, the deal will nonetheless see party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie hold ministerial office in the Scottish Government. One of the two portfolios they will hold will have responsibility for decarbonising homes and transport and tenant’s rights. The other will focus on green skills, the energy industry and the natural environment.

The nature of the agreement means that the Greens’ new ministers will not be bound by collective responsibility on a number of key areas. This will allow them to dissent from the government on issues where there is a disagreement between the Greens and the SNP. This will include the role of gross domestic product (GDP) in measuring economic growth, public financing for the arms industry and Scotland’s membership of NATO. Subsidies for the aviation industry are also on the list of areas where the Greens are exempt from collective responsibility.

Speaking on the agreement, Harvie said:

I am delighted that our party members have given their support to this historic cooperation agreement that will see Greens enter government for the first time in Scotland, or indeed anywhere in the UK. With Greens in government we will be able to deliver positive change for the people of Scotland.

Slater echoed these comments, saying she was “looking forward” to entering government. She said:

Scottish Green Party members are thoughtful and considerate, and I am pleased that having discussed and debated this agreement in great detail they have decided to take this historic step into government.

The time has come for Scotland to step up efforts to decarbonise our economy and invest in a fairer, greener future. There’s no time to waste and I’m looking forward to start work on our transformative agenda in the coming days.”

Greens south of the border were equally enthusiastic about the agreement. The Green Party of England and Wales acting leader Sian Berry described it as a “hugely exciting moment in British politics”. Berry said:

This is a hugely exciting moment in British politics. It will be the first time Green politicians have taken a role in government anywhere in any of the UK nations. Just at a time when we urgently need more Greens in power.

With Patrick Harvie and Lorna Stater both taking on ministerial roles, green priorities and policies on social and economic justice will be at the heart of the new Scottish government. They will be empowered to deliver bold plans on decarbonising transport, homes and buildings, restoring the natural environment, creating a fair deal for tenants, and focusing on equipping people with the green skills they need for jobs in a green economy.

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Image credit: YouTube screengrab