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by Kirsteen Paterson
04 August 2023
Scottish Greens leaders 'in too much of a hurry' to pass good legislation, ex-leader claims

Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie

Scottish Greens leaders 'in too much of a hurry' to pass good legislation, ex-leader claims

The leaders of the Scottish Greens are "in too much of a hurry" to make new laws and are not using "due diligence", Robin Harper has claimed.

Harper, the former co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, quit the party and accused it of having "lost the plot" over independence and gender recognition reforms in a letter to current co-leader Patrick Harvie.

Writing for Holyrood, Harper has now said he is "disturbed" that the party's "leading quadrumvirate" of Harvie, co-leader Lorna Slater, equality spokesperson Maggie Chapman and culture spokesperson Ross Greer "are all in too much of a hurry to get their ideas on the statute book and are not using what [he] would call due diligence".

Harper wrote: "I am seriously concerned by many aspects of the Green performance in the parliament and by the general tone of how they conduct their business. The party has moved to the left and seems to have forgotten that there is also a centre in Scottish politics which should not be ignored."

On gender recognition reforms, Harper claims that he was reported to the party's standards committee after mentioning "concerns" in a "casual conversation" with a Green councillor. He said he was sent an "admonitory letter" and "commanded" to attend a meeting on the matter.

Harper said: "This is the sort of thing you expect in extreme left and right organisations. I didn't expect it of the Green party. In my world, sound and clear-headed examination of evidence is vital as a precursor to sound legislation."

On independence, he said the "same arguments for and against have been endlessly repeated" for decades and "almost every poll on the subject shows we are close to evenly divided". 

Harper said: "You cannot build a new country on a foundation that is cracked down the centre - whatever happens the final decision would leave half the nation delighted but the other half deeply and permanently dismayed. There has been no consideration of an alternative. 

"It is about time we looked at ways to mend and improve what we have rather than take a wrecking ball to a constitution that has largely served us well for three centuries and that still supports one of the richest and most peaceful nations in the world."

In a leaked letter to Green activists seen by The National, Harvie said: "I think it's fair to say that most serious political observers will recognise that Robin's position has very little credibility."

The Scottish Greens said: "Our party has always been committed to social and environmental justice as well as to independence. With Scottish Greens now in government, we are turning long held policies such as free bus travel for young people, investing in restoring Scotland's natural environment, and a cap on rent rises into reality. This is delivering what Robin and others could only have wished for back in the early days of devolution.

"Independence and human rights, including the rights of trans people, are at the core of our vision and have been since our party was founded over thirty years ago. Our commitment to that vision has seen us achieve record result after record result in recent elections.

"The climate crisis will be the defining environmental issue for this generation and all future generations. It is only by building on this green change that we can deliver a fairer, greener and better future for Scotland."

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