As Nicola Sturgeon joins with the Greens in quest for independence, what price will Scotland pay?

ANDREW NEIL: Anti-monarchy. Anti-Britain. Anti-wealth. As Nicola Sturgeon joins forces with the Greens in her hunger for independence, what price will Scotland pay for giving power to eco-zealot Marxists?

For the first time ever, the Greens are in government in a part of the United Kingdom, thanks to a deal First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has struck between her ruling Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens.

And these are not your average Greens. The Scottish Greens are a radical-Left amalgam of 21st-century hard-line eco-activism and old-fashioned Marxist class war — anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-monarchy, anti-individual freedom, anti-car, anti-UK, anti-wealth and, above all, anti-economic growth.

They make the Greens south of the border sound sensible by comparison. 

So why is Sturgeon welcoming them into her tent and giving such extremists their first dose of power?

After all, they failed to win a single constituency, and only ended up with seven seats thanks to Scotland’s absurd voting system which allocates 56 seats via a regional ballot.

So why bother giving them the time of day? As always when it comes to the SNP, there’s a one-word explanation: independence.

Sturgeon failed to win an overall majority in the May elections, which undermined her promise that she would have a ‘mandate’ to demand a second independence referendum.

But the Scottish Greens are also big fans of separation. By merging their seven seats with the SNP’s 64, hey presto, you get what Sturgeon would consider a rock-solid majority for Indyref2 in the Scottish parliament — something Boris Johnson will not be able to ignore, she claims (without explaining why).

Whatever the majority in Holyrood for another referendum, it comes up against the cold, hard fact that only Westminster can sanction a second vote and Johnson has no inclination to do so.

Nicola Sturgeon (centre) holds a media briefing with Scottish Greens co-leaders (left) Patrick Harvie and (right) Lorna Slater

Nicola Sturgeon (centre) holds a media briefing with Scottish Greens co-leaders (left) Patrick Harvie and (right) Lorna Slater 

But sharing a modicum of power with the Greens does bring Sturgeon some advantages. She can flaunt her ‘super-majority’ before her party conference next month.

Even though it is largely meaningless, the SNP faithful will lap it up and she has precious little other red meat with which to feed them.

Plus, she will pose as the head of a green semi-coalition when the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, the next great global environmental jamboree, takes place in Glasgow in November.

Without that boost to her credentials, she feared no more than a walk-on part since the event is a Boris Johnson production.

Now she can tell world leaders what it’s like being in power with a Green party and carve out a distinctive position on the world stage from the UK.

It’s clear Sturgeon will accommodate just about anybody if it furthers independence, which is all the SNP really cares about.

The Scottish Greens are led by inexperienced chancers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, which brings suitable gender balance to the leadership of a party obsessed by such matters, but little else.

Harvie has been around forever in Scottish politics, a posturing pixie widely disliked outside his small green fan club.

Slater is a Canadian newcomer who saw a chance to make a name for herself in the small world of Scottish politics by affecting to despise the UK.

She is the brighter of the two and sounds more reasonable — which makes her the more dangerous. Both can now look forward to junior ministerial roles.

Together they’ve already consolidated the Greens as the party with manifesto policies straight out of the Leftist eco-populism playbook.

They don’t want merely to remove the Royal Family en route to a Scottish republic, they want to confiscate all their lands, too — a policy not exactly designed to encourage future rural investment or respect for property rights.

Any Scot with over £1 million in combined assets (property, investments, pension etc) would be subject to a ‘millionaire’s wealth tax’, perhaps levied by local authorities (which, if you know Scottish local government, is not entirely reassuring). They’d also likely face a 60 per cent top rate of income tax.

It’s certainly one way of creating traffic jams on the roads to Berwick and Carlisle, as any Scot with any money flees the country.

Road-building would end and even road upgrades would have to meet a very high bar to qualify for funding. Anybody who took more than one return flight a year would face a rising scale of tax for every subsequent flight.

Workplace parking would be taxed, with congestion charges on top, along with a 20 mph speed limit in all urban areas.

Andrew Neil (pictured): It’s clear Sturgeon will accommodate just about anybody if it furthers independence, which is all the SNP really cares about

Andrew Neil (pictured): It’s clear Sturgeon will accommodate just about anybody if it furthers independence, which is all the SNP really cares about

‘Fifteen-minute neighbourhoods’ would be created, so that anybody could get everything they need within a quarter of an hour’s walk of their home (nope, I’ve no idea how that would work either).

The Harvie-Slater Greens are against Nato, fee-paying schools, field sports and arms companies, which would get no public money, so Scotland would have no defence industry if they ever had their way.

Growth would cease to be an economic goal — indeed, it would be discouraged — but Scotland’s influence would be felt in the wider world as never before apparently.

Scottish ‘trade links’ would be used to ‘hold China to account’ over human rights (Beijing must be trembling), they would bring peace to Syria (which will surprise Damascus), recognise Palestine and boycott Israel (naturally). 

Truly a Green Scotland would be a diplomatic superpower.

Sturgeon, of course, is far too canny to sign up to this ragbag of radical chic, which would shame a student Marxist.

She’s made sure her new friends will not be allowed anywhere near economic policy and they’ve agreed to disagree in a number of areas even while co-operating.

She knows the SNP dominates Scottish politics because of its grip on conservative middle Scotland, to which the Greens don’t appeal.

But she has agreed to take her government further to the left with an even bigger state and much more public spending.

There will be more money for all manner of green projects such as energy efficiency (which promises so much yet usually disappoints), public transport, affordable homes, more welfare and even rent controls (Adam Smith, the great Scottish thinker who developed the case for a market economy, will be turning in his grave!).

There is no word, of course, about where the money will come from to pay for all this, though no doubt the much-derided UK will be expected to stump up most of it.

It certainly won’t be from oil revenues — the Greens in government will likely mark a moratorium on any further exploitation of oil reserves. As-yet-undeveloped licenses might even be revoked. 

The great SNP rallying cry — ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’ — is now consigned to the history books.

I suspect a lot of the SNP-Green agenda will never see the light of day. Sturgeon and her cabinet (which will have no Greens) will quietly bury much of it and the Greens will be too feeble to complain. But it will leave Sturgeon tainted, nevertheless.

It’s long been clear that she does not share the enthusiasm of her predecessor for enterprise: Alex Salmond was genuinely pro-business and companies knew it.

Business in Scotland sees Sturgeon as indifferent at best, hostile at worst. To make common cause with an anti-growth party like the Greens will hardly burnish her pro-business credentials.

That, in turn, will make it just that bit harder for Scotland to attract the international investment it needs to prosper.

And if the SNP-Green alliance flourishes into something more substantial, many existing businesses will think about upping sticks and getting out. Business has never been freer to go where the economic environment is most convivial.

Most do not need to be in Scotland — and will not be if they conclude they’re not wanted.

The Scottish Greens could achieve their goal of zero economic growth sooner than they think. They are too insignificant to save the planet. But they could easily wreck Scotland.

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