This afternoon Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, co-leaders of the Scottish Greens, will become ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government. The appointments come after Green members ratified a cooperation agreement over the weekend. The unity pact is a strategic masterstroke by Sturgeon, handing her an overall majority at Holyrood, insulating her from internal SNP criticism and coopting a rival nationalist party. There is one midge in the porridge, however, and it’s this: the Scottish Greens are unhinged. Not merely eccentric or a little outside the mainstream, but full-blown, solar-powered, honest-to-Gaia cranks.
For an illustration, consider a motion debated at their autumn 2015 conference in Glasgow. I was a political reporter back then and covered the event, and the talk of the weekend was Policy Motion 2. Dry-sounding but incendiary, Policy Motion 2 resolved that Israel was an apartheid state, Zionism a racist ideology and Hamas not a terrorist organisation. The text claimed that ‘historically the Palestinian peoples have enjoyed peaceful religious and ethnic cohabitation’ but had come under ‘colonial occupation’, listing ‘Zionist/Israeli powers’ among the colonisers. This occupation it blamed on ‘the nationalist ideology of Zionism’, which it said ‘advocated that Jews should establish a new nation specifically for Jewish people rather than be citizens of the countries where they lived’.
It described the (re-)establishment of Israel as ‘the Nakba’, the Arabic term for ‘catastrophe’, and asserted that Israel today was engaged in ‘colonisation and ethnic cleansing’. It charged that ‘modern day Zionism, which advocates that Jewish people have a superior right to the land of Palestine, is a racist ideology’.
A few paragraphs later, it forgot the ‘modern day’ qualifier and ‘condemn[ed] Zionism as a racist ideology based on Jewish supremacy in Palestine’. The text ‘condemns Israel’s claim to be ‘the Jewish State’’ and accused it of giving ‘preferential rights to Jews over Palestinians’, characterising it instead as an ‘apartheid’ state ‘in which non-Jews have inferior rights’.