The Green Party has abandoned its key principle in support of Scotland’s YES campaign

9:50 pm - September 16th 2014

by Sunny Hundal    

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I’ve not waded that much into the debate on Scotland’s future, partly because I’ve been focusing on ISIS and partly because its not my fight. I support the Union but its up to the people of Scotland to decide and they’re unlikely to be persuaded by this random guy from London.

But I’m perplexed by the pro-independence position that some lefties have taken, particularly the Green party.

The Yes Scotland campaign say their economy is strong and can survive independence thanks to natural resources such as oil and gas. Its a key claim on their website and its true; oil and gas would be key to an independent Scotland’s finances.

Revenue from oil and gas is also how an independent Scotland will pay its bill and stave off deep spending cuts. I’m not saying they’re the only source of revenue but they’re very key to Scotland’s future. Without them there would be deep cuts. Independence would make Scotland even more dependent on that revenue.

As you can see from the chart above, revenue from fossil fuels easily dwarfs everything else combined.

Scotland wants to invest in renewable energy, but the money for investment will inevitably have to come from further investment and money raised through oil and gas.

AND YET – one of three key principles of the Green Party is to reduce “dependence on fossil fuels”. Scottish Greens too say they want to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

So why are the Green Party supporting an outcome that makes a nation even more dependent on exploiting its oil and gas resources?

Can someone explain this to me?

If the Greens are arguing that Independence will make Scotland less dependent on fossil fuels, I’d like to see the evidence and sums, since the YES campaign in Scotland isn’t saying that at all.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Environment ,Green party ,Westminster

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Reader comments

As a lawyer, it’s so easy to be pro-independence: 🙂

Theyv’e made grandiose claims about 100% renewable by 2020. Can these be hit? Carbon brief are very skeptical.

I am unsure how the greens can be the most pro european party there is yet be pro independence ??

Doesn’t “dependence on fossil fuels” typically relate mostly to using it for energy rather than economically depending on it?

Scotland has renewable potential, I would think they see independence as a way to have a much greater shot at using the oil money to develop it rather than trusting Westminster to do it.

TEMPORARY dependence on fossil fuels (no more so than at present) in order to finance investment in renewable energies so as to reduce and eventually eliminate dependence on fossil fuels entirely.

I see no dilemma here.

Or would you rather Westminster continue to use the revenues from oil and gas to finance bank bailouts instead?

Going to have to do better than this if you really want to justify voting No.

5. douglas clark

For one thing, the Scottish Green Party is a separate Party from the Green Party. Patrick Harvie who has been an eloquent spokesman for independence, and is one of their joint leaders, is not of the view that burning petrochemicals is perhaps the best thing that you can do with them. But he obviously does see a potential political re-alignment if Scotland goes independent.

Whilst I am currently in the SNP, if we do win, and it is not yet clear that we will, I would have to think seriously about where I’d place my cross in the 2016 election. But I am pretty impressed with the Green’s overall manifesto.

Wrong Green Party!

You talk about Scotland, and the Scottish Green Party supporting the Yes campaign – then you link to the Green Party of England and Wales website, and charge the Scottish Greens on the basis of something they have said…

This is pretty much tantamount to holding Labour in this country to account for something done by the Irish Labour party, or the Belgian socialist party.

None the less, the other key problem with the charge is that Yes is all about oil and Gas, clearly there is more to the argument than just oil and gas.

It’s almost as if someone had already thought of this question and if you had taken the trouble to make it all the way to the Scottish Green Party website, you would have found their briefing paper on the subject:

(was it not a massive clue that you were barking up the wrong tree when there was little, if anything on the GPEW webpage about the yes campaign?)

Money for the transition to renewables is going to come from oil and gas whether Scotland’s independent or not. And with current technologies it requires oil and gas and derivatives of them to build and maintain renewable energy sources in the first place to make the transition (petrol for vehicles, electricity generated in gas powered power stations to produce and transport wind turbines or wave or tidal power stations or hydro-electric ones for instance). So should the Greens pretend that isn’t the case? They differ from the SNP on much of energy policy – e.g SNP commitment to continue open cast coal and coal powered power stations.

However they are not going to focus on their disagreements with other members of the Yes campaign any more than Labour would have spent their time campaigning for Better Together by laying into the tories on their (few) policy disagreements with them, or Respect would spend their campaigning time attacking New Labour on the policies they disagree with them on. Expecting either would be daft.

8. douglas clark


You say:

” e.g SNP commitment to continue open cast coal and coal powered power stations.”

The only thing I can find on that subject from them, is this:

The announcement of a Scottish Mines Restoration Trust is a helpful step forward that will in time create jobs in the process of restoring the landscape of old open cast coal sites.

I welcome the fact that steps to assist those employees that have been made redundant have been put in place so quickly and know that every effort will be made to help them into alternative employment as swiftly as possible.

Some examples would be useful.

I don’t see how it matters whether an oil reserve is in the UK or an independent Scotland from an environmental point of view.

It’s still going to get burnt. If anything, an independent Scotland with slightly more left wing tendencies, and a much weaker financial sector lobby, might be a little more likely to at least consider the environmental consequences.

It’s called bootstrapping.

Use the oil money to keep us going while we get the renewables industry set up, then as it gets itself established, we can reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use as renewables take over.


11. douglas clark

jungle @ 9,

It depends what you use the receipts upon.

The UK Government since the days of Thatcher has used it to pay for their policies, ré unemployment, destruction of industries, etc, etc. There was no intention of moving to tidal or other forms of renewable energy which the UK are very rich in.

Why no Severen barrage, or schemes in the Moray Firth?

Because these were not the subjects that Thatcher or her acolytes had the slightest interest in.

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