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by Kirsteen Paterson
03 April 2023
SNP voters split over Bute House Agreement with Scottish Greens, poll finds

Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie

SNP voters split over Bute House Agreement with Scottish Greens, poll finds

SNP voters are split over the party’s pact with the Scottish Greens, a poll has found.

The Bute House Agreement saw Nicola Sturgeon and Greens leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater agree a power-sharing deal in summer 2021.

The deal gave Harvie and Slater ministerial positions and gave the SNP a parliamentary majority to help push its legislation through and defend against votes of no confidence.

That came after Sturgeon’s party fell one seat short of majority itself and John Swinney, then deputy first minister, survived such a challenge.

During the recent leadership election, there were questions over whether the deal would continue if either Kate Forbes or Ash Regan defeated Humza Yousaf.

One week since Yousaf was confirmed as the new SNP leader, and the Greens confirmed they would stay in government, research by Panelbase for The Times has found a split amongst SNP voters on whether the agreement should stay in place.

A total of 53 per cent of SNP voters said they backed the deal. However, 35 per cent said they want it to end, with the SNP becoming a minority administration and winning votes on an issue-by-issue basis. Another 12 per cent said they were unsure.

Across all parties, just 33 per cent were in favour of the deal, 43 per cent were opposed to it and 21 per cent were unsure. Three per cent did not want their views to be known.

The findings follow criticism from SNP backbencher Fergus Ewing, who called on Yousaf to “scrap the Bute House Agreement” and claimed that it has damaged the SNP’s credibility.

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, he called the Greens “fringe extremists that want to dismantle our economy” and “basically close down rural Scotland”. Ewing said: “I hope for the sake of the party I have served for half a century that we will soon extricate ourselves from this connection with a party which is not so much green but deepest red – of the extreme left.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said Ewing’s “brand of conservative politics make him indistinguishable from the Tories on most issues” and defended the “progressive government” his party belongs to.

A spokesperson for Yousaf said the Bute House Agreement “was backed by about 95 per cent of SNP members” and the new first minister has made it clear that he will “maintain this important cooperation agreement”.

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