Scottish independence: SNP-Green government means the case for a referendum is stronger than ever – Angus Robertson MSP

Scotland’s new governing agreement between the SNP and the Greens is historic.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 4:55 am
Supporters of Scottish independence can take heart from the formation of an SNP-Scottish Green government (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

It is about parties working together for the common good with a positive vision to create a greener, fairer independent Scotland.

I am delighted and hugely motivated to be part of a government that is driven by collaboration and consensus, with a focus on tackling the climate crisis, recovery from the global pandemic and our route back to the European Union as an independent member state.

It is also historic as it means, since its inception, every major party in the Scottish parliament – bar the Tories – have been in government in one form or another.

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Putting party politics to one side, this fact and the SNP-Green agreement is a good thing for politics, a good thing for democracy, and a good thing for Scotland.

Over periods of weeks, my colleagues and I have worked with the Green Party leadership to reach a consensus on the issues that matter and on how we should approach them. Hugely constructive conversations have been had and government policy will be all the better from new perspectives and collaboration.

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This is emblematic of the kind of politics and the kind of Scotland we want to have. In Westminster, where I spent over 16 years as an MP, ideas were often considered good or bad depending on whether the idea came from either government or opposition benches, rather than whether they were good for the country or for the future.

Since devolution began in 1999, MSPs in Holyrood have shown that building bridges and joint endeavour is as effective as one party calling the shots. Indeed, after 50 per cent of Holyrood elections, a power-sharing agreement has been formed. Excluding wartime UK national governments at Westminster, only two have happened in as many centuries.

In modern times, and to address the issues of today, we have to work together. Climate change should not be not a party issue, nor Covid recovery or inequality and equality. I am proud to be working for a government in a country where our future path is forged by shared interest over partisan pandering. I hope, regardless of your view of our policies, that this gives you hope for our politics.

This agreement also a good thing for the independence movement. On the morning following the election, the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour clubbed together – as they often do in Scotland – to argue that an SNP government being one seat short of a majority meant there was no mandate for an independence referendum. It was a poor argument to begin with given there was a Green-SNP pro-independence majority in parliament from the off.

Nonetheless, this is where they set the bar. Now, with the formal agreement between the Greens and SNP, and with Green ministers joining government, the bar has been hurdled and the opposition’s conditions for having an independence referendum have been met.

Furthermore, this unified, pro-independence government bolsters our defence against the ongoing onslaught on Scotland’s constitutional powers by the UK government. It sends a clear message that our right to have a referendum is stronger now than ever.

In the spirit of cross-party cooperation, it is time to move past the shadow boxing, have the substantive debate and determine the country’s future.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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