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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
29 January 2024
Bute House Agreement ‘worse’ for SNP than Greens, says senior MSP

Photo by Andrew Perry

Bute House Agreement ‘worse’ for SNP than Greens, says senior MSP

The SNP has come out of the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens “worse” than their junior partners, a senior SNP MSP has said.

Speaking exclusively to Holyrood, Kenneth Gibson - who convenes the parliament's finance committee - said his party had been “blamed” for policy failures stemming from the deal.

And he called for the agreement to be “reviewed”, adding a “big chunk” of the parliamentary party would support such a move.

The Bute House Agreement was made in August 2021 following that year’s Scottish Parliament election, putting two Green ministers into government for the first time anywhere in the UK.

At the time the deal was overwhelmingly backed by members of both parties, but a number of SNP politicians have since raised concerns.

Former finance secretary Kate Forbes called for the deal to be brought to an end in December, and for the SNP to “operate again as a one-party minority government”. SNP veteran Fergus Ewing has also made similar calls.

While stopping short of calling for it to end, Gibson said: “I certainly think it should be reviewed.”

He added: “I think many of the things that the SNP government has been blamed for have been because of the Bute House Agreement: the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the deposit return scheme, and even the reduction in grants. The SNP gets the blame.  

“There was an announcement that we’re going to look at the abolition of council tax, why was that made by a junior Green minister? Why was it not made by a member of the cabinet or even the first minister?

“I think usually in a coalition the smaller parties tend to suffer, for example the Lib Dems when they were in with Labour, whereas in this instance, which isn’t even a full coalition, it’s the SNP that has come out of it worse.

“A lot of colleagues feel that. A big chunk wants it reviewed, some quietly, some not so quietly.”

Gibson also expressed concern about the plans to ban LGBT conversion practices, saying that while he had not yet formed an opinion on the topic, he was “not convinced it is a priority”.

“I have never had a single constituent in all of the years I have been elected, which was 1992, mention it to me personally. So, I am not convinced it’s a huge issue, but I can’t decide my position until I’ve seen any that might be getting proposed,” he said.

And the MSP opened up about the death of his son last year, describing it as “very difficult, stressful and upsetting”.

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