Forbes warns Yousaf to scrap coalition deal with Greens amid voter anger at environmental policies

Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf during the SNP leadership hustings
Former SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes has urged Humza Yousaf to rip up the power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens - ROBERT PERRY/PA

Kate Forbes has warned Humza Yousaf that he must scrap the SNP’s power-sharing deal with Scottish Greens or face a voter backlash against their hard-Left environmental and tax policies.

Ms Forbes, who narrowly lost out to Mr Yousaf in this year’s SNP leadership contest, urged the First Minister to rip up the coalition accord with the Greens and rule at Holyrood as a minority government.

The former Scottish finance secretary said “nearly all the issues” that have led to the SNP haemorrhaging public support in the opinion polls over the past year could be traced to policies found in the Bute House Agreement with the Greens.

In an interview with the New Statesman, she warned Mr Yousaf that the “Greens appear to want to over-regulate rural communities out of existence and hike taxes to a rate that will ultimately reduce public revenue”.

Ms Forbes argued their influence in the Scottish Government was out of proportion with the eight MSPs they have at Holyrood and “unfortunately, right now, a lot of Green policies do not chime with the public’s priorities during a cost of living crisis”.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP lamented that the SNP no longer appealed to “the fisherman in Buchan as well as the working mum in Glasgow” as she urged Mr Yousaf to “get back to that approach”.

Refusing to rule out standing again for the party leadership, she said she felt “the weight of expectation from many quarters in the country not to just pack in my political career”.

Embarrassing about-turns

Mr Yousaf insisted in August that the deal with Greens would continue despite a series of controversies and embarrassing about-turns over environmental policies pursued by his administration. They also do not support using economic growth as a benchmark of success.

He only beat Ms Forbes in the SNP leadership contest by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in the second round of voting, despite the party hierarchy weighing in behind him and controversy over her religious views.

She later said he should check in with SNP members at the party’s October conference in Aberdeen about whether they wanted the Bute House Agreement to continue.

However, she went much further in her New Statesman interview, warning that the SNP had “lost momentum”, and bold change was necessary before next year’s general election and the 2026 Holyrood contest.

She argued the SNP had “lost the perception of being a broad movement moving together towards something bigger”, with members leaving the party, and policies having to be ditched or overhauled.

Ms Forbes said the Bute House Agreement “should be repealed and the SNP should operate again as a one-party minority government”, as previously happened under both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

“We were elected on a SNP manifesto not a Green Party manifesto or the Bute House Agreement,” she said.

‘Lost us support’

“Nearly all the issues that have lost us support in the last year are found in the Bute House Agreement and not in the SNP manifesto.”

Ms Forbes said the SNP had consistently won elections in Scotland because voters “felt we were on their side”, with support stretching across the country “when the people trust us to focus more on their needs than on empty ideology”.

In contrast, she said the Greens have a handful of politicians with their own ideological convictions. She argued that “their influence should be proportional to the public’s support for their policies”.

Lorna Slater, one of the two Green ministers in Mr Yousaf’s government, oversaw the shambolic attempt to set up a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in Scotland, which later collapsed at a cost of millions of pounds.

SNP and Green ministers were then forced to ditch their plans to ban fishing in swathes of Scotland’s seas following uproar from coastal communities and the seafood sector.

The Greens are also enthusiastic supporters of increasing taxes on wealthier Scots and Nicola Sturgeon’s self-ID gender reforms.

A Scottish Greens spokesman said: “Kate Forbes lost the leadership contest for her party which, some months later, continues to be a considerable source of relief for all those who, like the majority of SNP members and ourselves, believe in a progressive, inclusive form of politics working on behalf of everyone in Scotland.”

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