FM’s Trouble Swallowing Greens

Forging a Holyrood cooperation agreement has hit some mighty snags


Michael Gove is a cunning political gladiator. The UK Cabinet Office Minister can always quickly spot a weakness in his opponent’s armoury and will ruthlessly swing his sword at it. Raised in the north-east of Scotland, he realises how electorally vulnerable the SNP could become in that part of the country if it gets into a formal cooperation agreement with the Greens. So, back on his old stomping ground a few days ago, Mr Gove issued the following statement:

The Greens are anti-oil and gas, anti-growth, anti-jobs, anti-investment, anti-the North East, anti-Aberdeen. I hope that the SNP keep them at arm’s length because I do not believe that a formal SNP-Green compact would be good for the North East or good for jobs.

That’s a stinker from the adopted son of an Aberdeen fish merchant, a journalist by trade who knows what soundbites will go down well in the Granite City and its hinterland. His Conservative colleagues at Holyrood were also quick in warning of a “coalition of chaos” between two separatist parties the moment it was publicly mooted. But it is Downing Street’s appointed saviour of the Union who has now spelt out most clearly what such a deal could mean in practice. The response from Nicola Sturgeon revealed how nervous she’s becoming about the pact she personally dreamt up:

The discussions at this stage are entirely exploratory and without prejudice. I will, of course, seek the prior collective agreement of Cabinet to any agreement that might be produced for consideration.

Read between the lines and it will be no surprise if the negotiations scheduled to take place during the summer recess falter or even collapse in acrimony. The First Minister’s fresh description of these talks as “entirely exploratory” sounds quite different from the FM who launched them by saying “we are setting no limits on our ambition”. The insertion of the legalistic term “without prejudice” is particularly startling, even from a former solicitor. Translated from lawyer’s into layman’s language, it means: “We can pull out of this at any point”.

Quite a few of her Holyrood colleagues would be gey happy if that happened. Some SNP MSPs were noticeably squirming in their seats when she waxed lyrical about rising above partisan rivalries. The only party now seemingly licking their lips at this prospect of such co-operation are the Tories – because they see it as a glorious opportunity to gain an edge over the Nats in the north-east again. These two tribes have slugged it out up there for almost half a century, their duels usually revolving around farming and fishing. But a new dimension has been added by the FM seriously flirting with a party pledged to phase out North Sea oil and gas as fast as possible. 

The Greens insist they care about people’s livelihoods and are not recklessly bent on bringing economic carnage to a part of the country which has been through considerable pain already in recent years as the oil industry has suffered from severe volatility. Maggie Chapman, a North East Scotland MSP, sought to rebut Mr Gove’s claims thus: 

The Scottish Greens have shown how we can tackle the climate emergency by delivering a fair transition that supports oil and gas workers to move into the clean industries of the future and leaves no one behind. I was elected by the people of the north east to deliver that transition just last month and if I have to put Michael Gove’s nose out of joint to do so then so be it.

Viewed from their perspective, the Greens also need to be careful not to be seen as too soft on the Scottish Government. Perhaps with this in mind, their co-leader Patrick Harvie less than a fortnight ago laid into the Ms Sturgeon about her administration missing three annual climate targets in a row. In response, the SNP chieftain has stressed that the Greens won’t dictate the speed of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy or alter the course of her regime’s still car-friendly transport strategy. Nevertheless, there is fear among her foot-soldiers that they could suffer from closer association with what many voters (not only in the north-east) view as environmental extremists.

The Tories are not alone in feeling the Greens are engaged in “not grown-up politics”. Many among Ms Sturgeon’s normally quiescent parliamentary colleagues think the same. Some were aghast at her suggestion that senior figures in the Scottish Greens might be given ministerial posts. Noteworthy that gone also suddenly in Ms Sturgeon’s statement this week was any glowing talk of “a Green minister or ministers being part of this government.” We can only wonder what co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater felt about that.

Jaggy’s view is that they should not be at all worried. If the summer summits end in no co-operation agreement, this duo may well have dodged a bullet. Ms Sturgeon’s enthusiasm for co-operating with the Green grouplet was – like almost everything else she does – primarily guided by sly, self-serving motivations. As this blog put it in a previous post (see link below), Nicola was going to eat her Greens. Now, it seems, she’s having a bit of trouble swallowing them.

26 thoughts on “FM’s Trouble Swallowing Greens

  1. Some political nutritionists argue that digesting greens, proteins and carbo-hydrates can cause indigestion and political indiscretion due to excessive gases? Suggest more integrity added to the diet via enhanced honesty vitamins, albeit for some of those involved may be hard to swallow, even fatal? Dr Feelgood, Emeritus Professor of Scottish Political Nutritional Studies, University of Hyndland.

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  2. What is the point of this proposed alliance? The only one I can see is an insurance policy for Sturgeon when SNP MSPs start defecting to Alba or independent status.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If a coalition in any way enhances sturgeons perception on the world stage, then she will go for it.
    Being first minister is only an opportunity for her to strut her stuff in the hope of a job with the UN.
    She cares absolutely nothing for Scotland.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “The Scottish Greens have shown how we can tackle the climate emergency by delivering a fair transition that supports oil and gas workers to move into the clean industries of the future and leaves no one behind.”
    I’d be interested to hear how Maggie Chapman plans to compensate O&G workers earning handsome six figure salaries for working six months a year in their new career servicing wind turbines.

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    1. “I’d be interested to hear how Maggie Chapman plans to compensate O&G workers earning handsome six figure salaries for working six months a year”.

      I very much doubt if she intends to do that and I very much doubt that anybody other than the affected workers would give a scooby if she doesn’t compensate them.

      If there are or were workers on those kinds of T’s & C’s, then they had a good few decades of coining it in, and if they pissed it all up against a wall, too bad.

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  5. Like him or loathe him, Michael Gove is the cleverest member of the UK Cabinet. Very pleasing to see Sturgeon squirm now that the consequences of her devious dabbling with the noxious Greens become apparent.

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  6. I’m surprised that Jaggy, and Barrhead, and Grouse Beater are still active. Independence for Scotland is dead. It won’t happen. Not in my lifetime, or yours, or your grandkids’. You Scots have been sold a pup, or a pig in a poke, or however you wish to describe the most horribly cruel confidence trick of the twenty-first century, so far, on the Scottish people, by the people who promise all you want and give nothing.

    You are not just Scottish. You are British. That’s what the army calls a ‘force multiplier’.

    Stop looking at the fluff in your navel and get on into the real world and make Scotland a wonder, and somewhere to be admired, and with people who hold their heads up. And part of the United Kingdom. The world lies before all of us, Scots, Welsh, English, Irish. We are British.

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      1. You are the loser Rob. The guys whom Scotland entrusted with gaining independence have very obviously been sleeping and will not wake soon. They sleep as long as they want and have no regard for you.

        The world has turned. The Scottish nation will see that pretty soon. Scotland’s future prosperity lies in the Union that you all know. Wake up.

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      2. C’mon Rob, where’s your Scottish fighting spirit?

        You know I’m correct. That’s the prob. You can’t argue against what you know is correct. By all means keep voting for the SNP. That suits the Tories very well. While the SNP are in power in Scotland all is well.

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      3. Calm doon, missus, and gi’ me a chance. I’ve just spotted your barrage of messages because, believe it or not, I have a life beyond blogging. I think if you read through my recent posts you’ll see I’m no fan of the leaders of any of the pro-Indy parties. But I continue to support the principle of national self-determination for every nation that desires it. I believe a majority of my fellow Scots could possibly do that one day if inspired by a persuasive leader. But nothing’s certain in politics.

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      4. You are not just Scottish Rob. You are British. And by that token you punch above your weight.

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    1. Which century are you living in? The British East India Company would have been proud of you. The UKGB&I served its purpose keeping the «Celts» under control, or almost. The «Scottish model» of subverting and bribing the ruling class worked very well on India. More fool the Scots and Indian masses for not kicking against the Brit pricks but, as we know, some were just too busy making dosh to notice the national shame.
      Like the English football fans booing the Deutschlandlied your militaristic Unionjackery sits awkwardly in the 21st century.
      Indépendance….Ça ira! Ça ira!

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  7. I got the distinct impression Sturgeon used the Greens against Alba, prior to the election, as her way of showing how two supposedly indy parties could work together – thus getting her off the hook about co-operating with Alba had they succeeded in getting some MSP’s. Of course, despite being publicly lukewarm on indy (another plus in Nicola’s book) they were also fully paid up members of the Stonewall lobby and expressed greater interest, like Nicola, in gender reform. Harvie struggled to answer questions like ‘what is a woman?’ in the hustings.
    So it was a marriage of convenience, as Harvie self IDed as an independence supporter, cross dressing as a nationalist when it suited him, especially when a well-paid job was on offer which would inflate his ego even further.
    Hardly surprising that such a cynical ploy is falling apart. If the Greens had real policies on land reform and rewilding it might have been a useful way of provoking the SNP into actually doing something, but they don’t even seem overly interested in that. What a mess Scottish politics is, as the various leaders and their followers jostle for patronage and high-paid positions while paying scant regard to the supposed core values of their parties.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Scotland has all the signs of an underdeveloped country, part of Europe’s «Third World».. Poor communications given its geography, natural resources undervalued, reliance on «foreign» expertise and governance, little internal infrastructural planning innovation, «colonial» education system and intellectually sterile ruling élite with a consequently stultifyingly dull and smug political culture and the ongoing problem of people leaving for fabulous greener pastures.
      The cliché «we get the leaders we deserve» may apply but we do not have to tolerate the second rate. Not if we value the concept of democracy, a concept lately stuffed by the politicians of fear into the Covid shredder.
      With imaginative leadership Scotland has the potential to be so much different, and better, than an outlying province of the London city state.
      Brings us back to education and system requirements.

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  8. Beyond closing pits and oil fields, what policies have the Greens ever produced regarding the environment? Their only effective MSP/Campaigner was Andy Wightman, and he was hounded out for being a heretic on matters of identity, the true passion of the Harvie and his handmaidens.
    We have Conservatives who don’t conserve anything, a Labour Party that doesn’t defend the working class, an SNP that doesn’t care about independence and Greens who don’t have any interest in Scotland’s environment.
    No wonder people are so cynical about politics.

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      1. If I may, Jaggy, I would like Alba to morph into the party for women and men for independence, blasting the SNP out of the way, or we should create a new party just for us. It is long, long, long overdue. No men, no trans. Just women with vaginas and boobs (real ones) and the sense to fight for the things that we are always in danger of losing because men want even the small concessions we have managed to garner to ourselves, and co-operating where necessary and warranted with male-oriented parties and groups. This latest attack on women and their rights is now beyond the Pale. Enough.

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  9. Great article. (As was your previous one on the subject).
    Your observation that Nicola Sturgeon does not do power sharing is spot on which is why she has surrounded herself with a bunch of bland, mediocre careerists. The current ‘Cabinet’ is the same as the old one with the usual tired faces rotated into different roles. Same incompetence though.
    Regarding the Greens, I was frankly astonished at the recent spat with new best friends, Harvie and Slater calling the SNP a party of transphobes, when (on that front at least), Sturgeon is hilariously on the exact same page.
    All seems somewhat ‘staged’. Similar situation to all the Trans allies threatening to walk out of the SNP. We got the famous broom cupboard ‘don’t leave us’ video. Next day Jo Cherry was sacked from the front bench and some ammendments to the Hate Crime Bill were hastily dropped.
    A very public falling out so soon into the ‘romance’ , all very odd.
    (I’ll get my tin foil hat again).

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    1. Glad you appreciated both articles. In the gender ideology stakes, the Greens seem determined to outdo the Nats. How that’s going to save the planet is beyond me. But might be useful to Sturgeon to be seen as “moderate” on that front.

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      1. A surprising blind spot there Jaggy!

        The biggest threat to the environment is human numbers and activity. Gender idealogy fits very well with efforts to reduce human numbers. It doesn’t matter how convincing somebody’s transition is, or how convinced the person him/her self is of their new gender. They are not going to be bringing more humans into this over-crowded world.

        Not a new idea. Isaac Asimov was writing along these lines in the 1970’s.

        Regarding oil and gas. We won’t stop until the last barrel and cubic foot has been extracted. Hopefully not for burning, because that is a criminal misuse. But fossil hydrocarbons are crucial for the artificial fertilisation of the intensively over-producing agriculture that is all that stands between our unsustainable numbers and mass hunger. Of course, it won’t be the richer nations experiencing the mass hunger, just as it is not us that are doing without the Covid jabs. We still have enough cash to out-bid the third world and that situation should proceed for another decade or so.

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    2. Don’t you believe it, Bi Focal. They will be demanding designer babies next that the gullible handmaidens will hatch for them as surrogates. For anyone who doubts the next step that the Big Tech/Big Pharma industries will be concentrating on, just take a peek at their motivation: Big Bucks. People think you’ve lost the plot when you say that designer robots and humans are on the way. Not in itself a bad thing because it could help a lot of people, I suppose, but, like everything that is meant for good, human beings always manage to twist the logic and use it for ill – and vice versa, of course. And I wouldn’t worry so much about human numbers from women, because, after this stuff, and all the unnecessary battling, women will be opting out Big Time, believe me.

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  10. The SNP have far more in common with the Lib Dems (or maybe the Conservatives nowadays). I guess they differ about Scotland leaving Britain, but that doesn’t feature at all in the Scottish parliament (every few years the parliament spends a day ‘debating’ and voting on whether or not to hold a referendum, but nothing about what that referendum would pertain to). Scottish politicians seem to spend far to much time fighting about something that is not even vaguely tangible, and has nothing to do with their governance.

    I guess everything tangible must be fine. Either that or it’s a very successful smoke-screen.

    The NE? At every Aberdeenshire Council election the Tories get the largest vote in every single ward (beat that Buckinghamshire!). But it’s 125 miles from the Central Belt, so it doesn’t really exist…

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  11. What’s the beef about the SNP needing the Greens.

    That’s what Sturgeon and the strategists wanted.

    Both votes SNP. That was the shout and the people responded.

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