Scotland politics

Patrick Harvie: Holyrood needs more Green MSPs to challenge SNP

Patrick Harvie Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Mr Harvie said the Scottish Greens offered the best opportunity to hold the SNP to account

More Scottish Green voices are needed at Holyrood to push the SNP government "beyond its comfort zone", the party's co-convener has said.

Patrick Harvie told the party's pre-election conference that a Green MSP in all eight parliamentary regions would see "better, bolder" opposition.

The Greens currently have two MSPs plus two Green-supporting Independents.

All their election candidates will address the conference in Edinburgh on Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking two months before the 5 May general election, Mr Harvie told delegates that the SNP's record in government proved that "a better Scotland needs a bolder Holyrood".

He said: "Ahead in the polls and with nine years' experience in government, they still seem set to make only the most timid of changes to the local tax system. They need to be pushed.

"Labour and the Lib Dems aren't doing much better - how can we leave it to them to hold the SNP to account on an issue like fracking when they seem to swap policies on it by the week? Holyrood needs better, bolder, more coherent opposition than that."

Mr Harvie has urged pro-independence Scots to elect "constructive" critics of the Scottish government rather than more SNP "cheerleaders".

'Fairer system'

The party's other co-convener, Maggie Chapman, also criticised the SNP's "refusal to grasp the thistle of local taxation" by scrapping the council tax, in her speech to delegates.

The Scottish government announced plans this week to end the council tax freeze in 2017 and proposed that the four highest bands should pay more from next year.

But Ms Chapman said the plans did not go far enough.

She told conference delegates in Edinburgh: "Greens demand that Holyrood be bolder.

"Greens demand a new fairer system of local taxation capable of raising the money our public services and our communities desperately need."

She added: "The failure to confront this problem is what makes it so hard for the Scottish Parliament to block Westminster's austerity."