The rag tag cabal of debating school rejects now holding our constitutional future in their hands…
THE Greens have long languished on the fringes of mainstream politics, resigned to the prospect of everlasting irrelevance.
But for their Scottish co-convener Patrick Harvie and his coterie of student union agitators, yesterday marked a watershed moment.
He and his cohorts now have a key role in the country’s constitutional future, despite none of them having been directly elected — these democratic champions are all list MSPs, only winning their seats under proportional representation.
Yet without the Greens, the SNP would be unable to secure majority backing at Holyrood for their referendum bid.
The Greens had promised they would only back ‘indyref2’ once a million signatures had been gathered for a petition demanding the break-up of Britain, a pledge now conveniently forgotten.
In fairness, perhaps we can forgive the Greens for ignoring their own manifesto — after all, so did most of the electorate.
Stuffed with wish-list nonsense, demands for higher taxes and the legalisation of prostitution and cannabis use, it was firmly part of the parallel universe the Greens have always occupied.
Now, against all the odds, they find themselves in a position of immense power.
Yet, apart from enjoying no direct electoral mandate, the Greens’ ideological consistency is also highly questionable.
Yesterday Mr Harvie denounced Theresa May’s ‘isolationist’ Brexit — seemingly oblivious to the isolationism implicit in severing ties with our closest trading partner.
With a similar lack of self-awareness, the Greens’ Lothian MSP — land reformer Andy Wightman — warned on Sunday of the ‘legal and constitutional chaos about to be unleashed’ by Brexit, ‘in ignorance of consequences’.
The Greens’ other co-convener, Maggie Chapman, said yesterday that the party’s ‘vision of an outward-facing, inclusive country is totally at odds with the anti-foreigner approach the UK Government is taking’.
So ‘outward-looking’ and ‘inclusive’ that Mr Harvie, a vocal supporter of the SNP’s disaster-prone Named Person scheme, has spoken of his desire for an economic and cultural boycott of the ‘racist apartheid’ state of Israel — and the closure of all Catholic schools.
The ‘lentil-munching sandal-wearing watermelons’ — as Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser memorably described the Greens — are now prepared to risk the vestiges of their political credibility by becoming full-time de facto SNP backbenchers. Perhaps Cabinet posts will follow for Mr Harvie and the other ‘watermelons’, giving them direct access to policy-making — although no-one can be in any doubt that there is now only one policy in town.
Last month, the Greens rode to the rescue of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay as he drove through his Budget, containing a tax raid on the ‘rich’ elite — including headteachers and nurses.
Mr Harvie performed a similar role in the last SNP minority government from 2007 to 2011, when Alex Salmond (who detested Mr Harvie and loathed begging for his help) was forced to rely on the Greens’ back-up to legislate.
Now the Greens are pivotal to the SNP’s plan to realise its eternal goal of independence.
The support of Mr Harvie — who has long craved the tag of ‘kingmaker’ at Holyrood — is critical. Indeed, it is support he has already freely given.
At least he has had the candour to admit Scotland would need its own currency as a precursor to joining the euro — the kind of economic forward planning Miss Sturgeon was so keen to avoid yesterday.
Would there be room at the Cabinet table for Ross Greer, who became Scotland’s youngest-ever MSP last year and was only 15 when he joined the party? (He had only just turned 20 at the time of the last referendum.)
Immediately after his election, he was at the centre of a row over his public support of Palestinian terror group Hamas.
On Twitter, he rather unedifyingly boasted that he had ‘wound up the Zionist lobby’.
In her desperation for votes, it seems Nicola Sturgeon — who has gone to great lengths to build bridges with the Jewish community — is prepared to overlook some of the Greens’ more unsavoury beliefs.
Yesterday Mr Greer was back on Twitter, winding up the Unionist lobby instead.
‘Here we go! #ScotRef’, he posted, adding that it was ‘time to put our future in our hands’.
Mark Ruskell, the Greens’ Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, had once promised to ‘put planet first and political expediency second’ — a pledge that the Greens’ slavish adherence to the SNP line has exposed as a sham.
Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, a former police officer, favours decriminalising drug use, which he claims causes ‘unnecessary strain on our criminal justice system’.
The Greens’ health spokesman Alison Johnstone backs independence but ‘would prefer not to be described’ as a nationalist — something of a forlorn hope now that the Greens are effectively a subsection of the SNP.
Either way, a rag-tag cabal of debating school rejects, who in previous generations would have been relegated to the political peripheries, are now facilitating a referendum the vast majority of voters do not want.