The Scottish Greens today confirmed three issues that would be so-called "red lines" for Green MSPs after the election, issues where the party would not compromise in any post-election talks.
The first red line covers any plans for new nuclear or coal-fired power stations to be built in Scotland, or extension of the life of existing nuclear plants. (1) Labour and the Tories have backed new nuclear plants, as have the Lib Dems at Westminster since going into coalition, and in 2007 the SNP also supported the extended operation of Hunterston B. SNP Ministers backed a new coal-fired power station, also proposed for Hunterston, and the Tories supported this plant when it came to a vote in Holyrood in March 2010.
The second issue is student funding. Green MSPs will under no circumstances assist any government in the reintroducion of tuition fees or a new graduate tax. Greens opposed the Labour-Lib Dem "graduate endowment", introduced in 2001, and Green MSPs voted with other parties to abolish it in 2008.
The third red line covers the Conservative-Lib Dem cuts to public services. Greens have put investment in public services at the heart of their campaign in this election, and the party is setting out a range of alternatives, including raising additional revenue from big business and the better off. These cuts disproportionately hit services which are relied upon by those on low incomes, and Green MSPs would not play any role in an administration which makes cuts to Scottish services that worsen inequality. (2)
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"Labour long ago parted company with the anti-nuclear movement, the Lib Dems abandoned their credibility last year, and the Tories never had any. Even the SNP backed the 2007 plan to keep the crumbling Hunterston B plant running five more years. Hunterston should have closed this year, but instead Scotland must still live with the unacceptable risks that come with it. Greens in the next Parliament will stand unequivocally for a shutdown of Scotland's nuclear plants.
"Last year, SNP Ministers and the Tories united to back a new coal-fired power station, and Alex Salmond seems to think that carbon capture and storage, as yet entirely unproven, can somehow make this dirtiest fossil fuel into clean energy. It's a myth, and Greens will not back any administration that permits new coal plants in Scotland. Scotland has the capacity to be more than 100% renewable and to export the surplus to our neighbours - this has to be our national aim.
"Similarly, graduates already pay a progressive contribution to the public purse - it's called income tax. If they earn more because of their degree, they pay more tax. An additional tax or a return to tuition fees would deter students from less well-off backgrounds, and take Scottish education down the market-first route adopted by Westminster.
"Finally, the central question of this campaign remains the cuts to public services. The Tories are openly ready to hand them on should they hold the balance of power, and none of the other parties have yet set out a credible alternative to doing the same. Green MSPs will not support any government which signs up to a cuts agenda that worsens inequality in Scotland. Hard economic times should not be an opportunity to squeeze those on the lowest incomes - this country needs a fairer tax system and we need to invest in a low-carbon successful Scotland.
"Greens are honest about what our priorities would be if we were to hold the balance of power. Any other party seeking Green support in the next Parliament will have to respect our position on these issues. These are red lines we will not cross. Our voters and our members expect nothing less."
1. The issue of new nuclear plants was a red line for the Scottish Greens in 2007.
2. The Greens were the only opposition party at Holyrood to set out alternatives to the cuts in the last SNP Budget. See:
Posted by Scottish Green Party