Dumbarton man Paddy Harvie and Green colleague Lorna Slater in Edinburgh.
By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Greens co-leader, Dumbarton man Paddy Harvie, has failed to attend cabinet meetings with both Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf between September last year and June this year as his party’s influence on the SNP was called into question
Patrick Harvie has suffered a humiliating snub by the SNP after it was revealed that he did not attend any Scottish Government cabinet meetings in 10 months.
The Scottish Greens co-leader serves as a junior minister in Humza Yousaf’s administration after being installed in the same role by Nicola Sturgeon.
He has been spearheading Scotland’s attempts to make its buildings carbon neutral and outlined plans to ban Scots from selling their homes if they did not install expensive heat pumps to replace gas boilers. This could prove costly to house-owners, with an estimated £33bn bill to replace every one in the country.
But he is seemingly not trusted enough to be at the top table with SNP ministers as he has been snubbed by both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf. He did not even attend the former First Minister’s final cabinet meeting which was well-attended by junior ministers.
A freedom of information request revealed that both he and his Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater are unpopular with the Scottish Government administration. It reported that there were 36 Cabinet meetings between September 2022 and June 2023 (both months inclusive).
Out of these, Mr Harvie did not attend any of them with Ms Slater attending four during this period. It is understood this was to discuss her failed deposit return scheme.
It means that there was only Green ministerial representation at one ninth of cabinet meetings during the bulk of the 2022/23 Scottish Parliament which is now in recess. It highlights that the pair may not be trusted to offer their input on key issues affecting Scots.
Previously, they were labelled “toxic” by SNP sources due to their position on the economy which includes opposing economic growth. Last year, Ms Slater claimed that growth was a bad thing and led to people buying “crap you don’t need to impress people you don’t like”.
It was this sort of rhetoric that saw former finance secretary Kate Forbes request that the Greens co-leaders be removed from any decisions regarding the economy, and saw her clash publicly with the pair during the SNP leadership contest.
Through previous freedom of information requests, it was discovered that the two ministers have only attended a further two cabinet meetings each since signing up to the Bute House Agreement. Between September 2021 and August 2022 they were only invited to two each out of a grand total of 43 in the same time period.
The Bute House Agreement does only state that the pair would only need to be invited to cabinet meetings “at least twice a year” so the coalition rules have not been broken. But it raise questions about how much the two are trusted to make important decisions.
Scottish Conservative Graham Simpson MSP told the Scottish Daily Express: “The fact that Patrick Harvie has not attended a cabinet meeting since last September is neither here nor there because the Greens are the ultimate corrosive force in Scottish politics.
“On a whole host of issues – from oil and gas to the dualling of the A9 and gender reform legislation – the militant Green tail is wagging the SNP dog and sadly Scotland, especially rural Scotland, is suffering as a result. You have to ask why Humza Yousaf is so in thrall to them.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Bute House Agreement makes clear that ministers receive relevant Cabinet papers and are invited to attend Cabinet as appropriate. Since last September Ms Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy & Biodiversity, has attended Cabinet four times. Mr Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel & Tenants’ Rights, is a member of the Cabinet’s Sub-Committees on Legislation and the Climate Emergency.”