By Bill Heaney
SNP colleagues will be looking forward to one of their most experienced MSPs retiring says the Greens co-leader in a brutal dismissal of his party’s position at Holyrood.
A war of words has erupted between Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, whose roots are in Dumbarton, and veteran SNP MSP Fergus Ewing over the Scottish Government power sharing agreement.
Green MSP Mr Harvie has described Mr Ewing as an “angry old man” who is “out of step with the future”. He responded by undermining the Greens position in Government saying they “got into Holyrood through the back door” having failed to get widespread support.
Dumbarton man Patrick Harvie MSP and SNP grandee Fergus Ewing.
The 2021 Bute Agreement has been at the centre of many of Mr Ewing’s most rebellious speeches in Holyrood, where he famously described his government partners as “wine bar revolutionaries”, ripped up their policy and has blamed the green agenda for harming the economy.
Mr Harvie dismissed the gruelling criticisms. He said: “If the cost of being able to get some green policies acted on is our name gets thrown around a bit by folk like Fergus Ewing, I can live with that.
“If you weren’t making a difference in politics then no one would be talking about the influence you were having.”
Humza Yousaf’s recent tax regime announcement drew praise from Mr Harvie who said it was an area where the parties were working well together.
“It’s tough for everybody out there, but it’s also tough for government to deliver on its commitments with a reduced budget in real terms,” he said.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good stint at that. And in particular, we have continued the move towards progressive taxation, which is in contrast to tax cuts for the richest down south.”
The Inverness MSP told the Sunday Mail earlier this month: “There is now a very prevalent view, especially in rural Scotland, that the Green tail is wagging the SNP dog.”
Mr Harvie responded: “Greens and the SNP are working in a partnership. Fergus doesn’t like that, but he’s been hostile to Green politics since forever.
“The electorate didn’t give the SNP an outright majority and so they need to work together with others. Given every time he speaks in parliament the Tories are whooping from the other side of the chamber, maybe he would rather SNP were working with them? I don’t think most SNP voters would want that.
In a statement, Mr Ewing said: “Patrick accuses me of being old – I am 65, guilty as charged. But please note, quite a few other Daily Record readers are in the dock beside me.
“He also says I’m privileged. Well, after running my own business for nearly two decades, I’ve since been elected six times as a constituency MSP.
“In contrast, Patrick has lost every attempt to persuade people to vote for him – but still got into Holyrood through the back door via the list. I am indeed furious that failure to dual the A9 by 2025 has cost so many lives.
“Fergus has been around a while, he’s looking forward to his retirement. I can imagine a few SNP colleagues are looking forward to his retirement as well.”
He added: “If the government was to follow the demands Fergus was making on oil and gas, on road building, on opposing a whole host of environmental measures, they would effectively be dumping on the younger generations’ chance of a decent future at the behest of an angry old man at the end of what has been a very privileged career.
“I think he’s out of step with his party and he’s certainly out of step with the future.”
The comments come as “two or three” members of the Greens national council were heard questioning whether the partnership should go on.
Mr Harvie added: “Overwhelmingly, the party seems to support what we are doing. I think that is reflected in opinion polls. They have been a bit wobbly for other parties, but they have broadly encouraging from our point of view.”