FMQs: Greens challenge SNP over Indy economic vision

Scottish independence must offer the hope of a genuine change of economic direction, instead of mimicking the UK's failed austerity agenda, according to Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Patrick Harvie. The Scottish Government backed Green calls for a Green New Deal in Parliament yesterday, and Harvie today challenged Nicola Sturgeon to be more ambitious in following through on this commitment, and to ensure that the independence campaign doesn’t close the door on this agenda.

Harvie said that by fully committing to a transformational programme based on using the power of government instead of relying on markets, Scotland could create at least 200,000 green jobs as well as tackling the global climate emergency. He rejected the SNP’s Growth Commission report, which is expected to be heavily criticised by the First Minister’s party members at their conference this weekend, saying this approach would hold Scotland back and make a Green New Deal impossible.

The exchange followed yesterday’s vote, brought by the Scottish Greens, where MSPs backed the principle of a Green New Deal policy. Plans for a Europe-wide economic transformation will form a key part of the Greens’ European election campaign.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“It’s important that the SNP has accepted our case for the principle of a Green New Deal for Scotland, but the First Minister needs to be bolder in committing to rapid and radical change. With the welcome prospect of a new independence referendum before the end of this Parliament, it’s vital that the Government doesn’t bind the hands of a future independent Scotland by adopting the Growth Commission’s proposals.

“We heard yesterday that the First Minister wants a citizens’ assembly to set the direction for the next independence campaign. It’s clear from the conversations Greens are having with voters that they are far more likely to back independence if it’s based on a positive, bold and transformational vision for Scotland’s future, rather than ‘more of the same’ austerity and economic conservatism.

“I’m sure that’s a message the First Minister will hear this weekend from SNP activists, many of whom are deeply concerned by the Growth Commission proposals, which would, if they are adopted, make a Green New Deal impossible, given the major constraints they put on public investment.”