When Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater urges people to vote as if ‘their future depends on it’, she’s not warning the electorate about the planet’s climate crisis. Independence is what Ms Slater, a Canadian-born engineer and trapeze artist, really craves.
Scotland’s Greens may brand themselves as guardians of the environment, but observers could be forgiven for thinking their primary political purpose is to act as the Waitrose wing of the SNP.
The Scottish Greens exist to allow middle-class revolutionaries to reconcile their belief in solidarity with their conviction that it stops at Gretna Green and their deeply-held egalitarianism with their concern that the average SNP voter is a bit council scheme. You know, the sort of people who watch EastEnders and don’t ferment their own kimchi. Scottish Greens are nationalists in every sense except that they recoil from the word itself as though from unethically-sourced hemp.
They pride themselves on their commitment to equality, which is why the party’s top job is shared between a man and a woman. But while there have been four women in the leadership job share since 2008, there has been only one man. Step forward Patrick Harvie, Glasgow list MSP for 18 years and arguably one of the most irritating characters in Scottish politics.
‘Arrogant’, ‘self-satisfied’, ‘sanctimonious’ are just a few of the epithets his fellow MSPs use to describe the man who could offer Nicola Sturgeon the independence ‘supermajority’ of her dreams.
When he and Slater launched their manifesto a few days ago, Harvie was open about his ambitions. ‘We do aspire to take a role in government,’ he admitted and suggested that the Greens would be willing to have a conversation with the SNP about a formal coalition.