Scottish independence: Why Green Yes paper is a waste of paper, time and words

Of several questions arising from the Scottish Green’s paper setting out the case for independence, ‘why did they bother’ is top of the list.

The paper – more accurately described as a pamphlet by the Liberal Democrats – included just five pages of a post-independence wish-list, one full page of pictures, and just 937 words on actual policy (yes, I counted them).

This from a party which is attempting to present as a left-leaning, radical, but also maturing, serious political party. Their goal, long term, is to claim the left wing of Scottish politics from Labour and own it as the demands of the climate crisis worsen and demands for action from politicians grow.

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Why, then, would you make such a fool of yourselves? There is more detail on the 2014 referendum and the current “debate” than there is on what climate-based policies a newly independent Scotland would take forward. To release it on day one of COP27 invites accusations of hypocrisy and warped priorities. There is not a single word on currency.

Perhaps the truth is this is not a paper for the politicos of Scotland. It does not have the detail for a think-tank or academic to glance at it with any degree of seriousness. Journalists will write about it, but the level of detail makes it difficult for any serious analysis. Government, were the party not a key partner, and opposition politicians will dismiss it as irrelevant.

It is therefore highly likely these papers are for Scottish Green members and activists. There’s no sign yet the party’s voters are spooked by their time in government, but there is a degree of unease around the Government’s centrist agenda and Green ministers being subsumed into the SNP machine.

This, for members, is the start of the process of reminding people what a truly radical vision of independence could be. They will give co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater the benefit of the doubt and wait to see more detail. The party will claim this is simply the beginning of making the case, that it invites discussion and promotes the values and ideals of the Green vision.

In reality the criminal lack of detail means it is a waste of paper, time and words, and something the party was better off not publishing at all.

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater. Picture: PAScottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater. Picture: PA
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater. Picture: PA

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