Fury as Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘extremist’ pact to saddle taxpayers with ‘ridiculous’ £1M bill
Nicola Sturgeon quizzed over 'trust' of Green Party
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An agreement between the two Holyrood parties, which will see two Scottish Green MSPs enter government and a move towards a shared policy platform, was announced on Friday. The SNP national executive committee approved the deal on Saturday, with a consultative poll of members set for next week, while Green members will vote next Saturday on the agreement.
But the Scottish Tories, who have branded the Greens “extremists”, claimed the agreement would cost the Scottish taxpayer £224,497.88 each year just in wages and pension contributions.
This would mean until the end of the next Holyrood term in 2026, the agreement would cost Scots more than £1million extra.
The agreement sets out that there will be two Green ministers and two special advisers appointed.
The Green Party will nominate two MSPs from the existing eight MSPs to be Ministers who will be paid £94,821 per year.
Two special advisers will be appointed at an average cost of £81,897.94 per year and will support the two new green ministers in their work.
But Stephen Kerr MSP, Scottish Tory Chief Whip, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous, especially during a pandemic, that members of the Greens will be given promotions and pay rises from this coalition of chaos.
“Once again, the SNP are happy to let the taxpayer foot the bill for their independence obsession.
“This is a case of buddies lining each other’s pockets and in return the Greens will bow down to everything they say.
“The addition of the Greens just adds further extremist ideologies to an already out of touch SNP Government.”
The costs come just hours after Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens said the agreement could “fall apart” if either side makes impossible requests of the other.
When asked what stops the Scottish Government from ploughing ahead with policy not backed by the Greens, Mr Harvie said: “Ultimately, if that’s the approach they take then this agreement wouldn’t work.
“This agreement is going to be predicated on good faith and depend on the building of trust between both sides.
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“That means the Scottish Government is going to have to recognise that they can’t put the Greens into impossible positions and it’s going to give the Greens the responsibility that what we’re arguing for, what we’re demanding within government is achievable and deliverable, that we’re not asking for the impossible but we’re showing how change can be made possible.
“Both sides are going to have to work together.
“If there’s good faith, if there’s trust-building and if both sides work in the spirit of this agreement as well as the letter of it, then it’s going to be extremely successful.”
He added: “If either side, the SNP or the Greens, decide that we’re going to just demand impossible things from the other side then it will fall apart and the agreement would end at that point.
“I don’t think that will happen, I think there is a good degree of trust that has been built up in the process of negotiating this and I think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm for making this work.”
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Some thought has been given to who will take up ministerial office from the Greens and what portfolios they will work within, but Mr Harvie said it could take until the middle of this week for a final decision to be made between himself, co-leader Lorna Slater and the First Minister.
Mr Harvie has been the co-leader of the party since 2008, and an MSP for the Glasgow region since 2003.
When asked how it felt for him to be standing alongside the First Minister announcing the deal in Bute House on Friday, he said: “The Greens have been working away at our incredibly urgent agenda for many years in opposition and the idea we were about to take the first step into government at this critical time – a week or so after the ‘code red for humanity’ warning has been issued by the UN, a couple of months before the global climate conference comes to Glasgow – it really does feel like an extraordinary moment of opportunity.”
He added: “I expected it to feel a bit like the election debates, those kinds of high profile media moments, but it didn’t feel like that at all.
“This is really about trying to set a new tone in politics, trying to say political parties can work together when they’ve got common ground and still disagree about other issues and conduct those disagreements constructively.”
In response, an SNP spokesperson said: “The co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens proposes exciting policies which will build a stronger, fairer, greener Scotland reflecting the priorities the country voted for in May.
“In stark contrast, the Tories prefer to waste taxpayers money on nuclear weapons and the unelected House of Lords, while imposing a hard Brexit on Scotland that will harm our economy for decades to come.”
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