by Colin Campbell
THE first political breakthrough the Green Party made in Scotland was the election of their first Scottish councillor, Roger Winter, from Nairn, who won a seat on the then Highland Regional Council in 1990. There was jubilation at the election count as his band of supporters hoisted their tousled, bearded hero shoulder high. And it was difficult not to share in their enthusiasm as we looked on.
Back then people knew roughly what the Green Party stood for and there was widespread empathy for them: market gardens, more council allotments, reduce the use of cars and get people out walking and cycling, better public transport, grow your own cabbages. What was not to like?
Mr Winter turned out to be a fiery addition to the council, and on one occasion the greenery in his head turned to amber and then red and he had to be escorted from the chamber at Glenurquhart Road by officials after delivering an unstoppably critical and abusive tirade, which almost came to blows. He bowed out after one term before disappearing without trace, but I still remember him with some affection.
These days their fortunes have changed mightily from those early days of Winter, and their political achievements have far surpassed his.
But there is no widespread enthusiasm for that, and little empathy either. It is no longer clear what their priorities are, or what they are really about.
This week their co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, were appointed junior ministers in the SNP Scottish Government, creating an SNP-Green alliance.
Neither of this pair hold much appeal.
Harvie is a self righteous meddler who knows to the core of his being how other people should live their lives. His way.
Slater is a shrill Canadian of similar zeal.
While preaching on zero carbon emissions and lecturing on self-sufficiency and a less materialistic society, this pair will rake in six figure salaries, and have access to a vast pile of expenses.
But as they bask in their triumph in being selected for government – and how many photoshoots have they indulged in over the past few days – there is one overriding factor which puts all their supposed green credentials in the shade.
The reason they are where they are has nothing to do with Net Zero or Saving the Planet.
It is solely to do with the fact that they are prepared to back Sturgeon’s push for independence.
If it wasn’t for that, they could remain on any dungheap of their choosing for all Sturgeon would care.
They are willing acolytes with Sturgeon and the SNP in trying to break up the United Kingdom and create a “new Scotland”.
Unlike in Roger Winter’s day, it’s unclear why the tiny fraction of voters who back the Greens do so. Is it for environmental reasons, or for the destruction of the UK, or both?
Sturgeon and the SNP are one seat short of a majority in the Scottish Parliament. Without Harvie and Slater as their lickspittle cronies they can do nothing on independence. Bringing onside their handful of MSPs enables Sturgeon to ramp up the indyredf2 campaign yet again.
And she lost no time in doing so. On Wednesday she claimed that having the Greens in government meant the case for another referendum was now “undeniable”.
Sturgeon and the SNP do like their “Un” words. Westminster opposition to indyref2 has been “unsustainable” and “untenable”. Now it’s undeniable also.
It’s true Harvie and Slater would get their “less materialistic” society if we were independent. We’d be heading for poverty and economic ruin so fast that many people wouldn’t have the money to buy anything, or a lot less than they can buy now.
And there would be a dramatic reduction in carbon spewing flights heading abroad. Sturgeon’s new currency – the groat or whatever she’d finally come up with – would have the value of Monopoly money outside “new Scotland” borders.
The case against independence has been hardened through Harvie and Slater now effectively holding the balance of power.
Many people are sick enough of Queen Nicola and her obsession already.
The thought of being led by simpering little Patrick and the shrill Canadian into the new land of milk and honey should be acceptable only to those who’d give up all their possessions and live on a diet of raw onions grown outside their caves if it brought about “freedom”.