Patrick Harvie speaking at the Scottish Greens' spring conference

The Scottish Green Party will only remain in government in Holyrood if the new First Minister shares the party’s “progressive values”, Patrick Harvie has said. The party’s co-leader made the comments in his speech to the Scottish Greens’ spring conference in Glasgow.

In a speech which celebrated the growth of the Greens in Scotland in recent decades, Harvie reaffirmed the party’s commitment to making change within government, rather than in opposition. He told attendees at the conference: “Our commitment to a fairer, greener and independent Scotland isn’t something that can be postponed. The clock of the climate emergency ticks louder with every passing day. That’s why we’ve still got so much more to do and it’s why Greens are needed in the places where decisions are made.”

Claiming the Greens in the Scottish Government have delivered “record levels of investment in walking, wheeling and cycling”, and a “redistributive budget which takes money from the wealthiest and puts it in the hands of the lowest income families through the most progressive taxation in the UK”, while promising to introduce a “housing bill later this year bringing in permanent rent controls and new rights for tenants”, Harvie went on to argue that the Greens “are achieving more than ever before”.

Despite this, he made clear that the Greens’ continued place in the Scottish Government was contingent on who the SNP elects as its next leader. He said that “we need to be clear that a sincere commitment to progressive values cannot be an optional extra in a choice of a First Minister; it is a necessity.”

He continued: “And it’s not just about the policies and the values. It’s also about the constructive way of working that’s written into the Bute House Agreement – genuinely both sides seeking common ground. Yesterday, I’m told that Kate Forbes said that she wanted to continue working with us, even though she has made it clear in a televised debate that working together simply meant us accepting her agenda. That’s hardly the spirit of cooperation.

“But conference, there is so much more to what we can deliver if, and only if, we see a First Minister who shares our commitment to the progressive values, the genuine spirit of cooperation, and the bold policy programme that run through the agreement you approved.”

The SNP leadership election concludes on March 27. Among the points of difference between the candidates is attitudes towards gender recognition reform after the Westminster government blocked Holyrood’s attempts to make the process of allowing trans people to access a gender recognition certificate easier and more humane. Ash Regan resigned from the Scottish Government in opposition to the reforms and while Kate Forbes was absent from the vote in the Scottish Parliament, she has since said she would not have supported the Bill. Humza Yousaf, however, voted for the Bill.

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act was included within the Bute House Agreement – the document which sets out the programme for government agreed between the Greens and the SNP. Harvie used his speech at the Greens’ spring conference to stress the importance of “defending both our democracy and the rights of trans people by challenging the UK Government’s abuse of the Section 35 power to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill”. 

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Image credit: Scottish Greens YouTube