Thursday 8 April 2021

MAY ELECTION: SNP/GREEN PACT: The consequences for rural workers

 SGA members have made us aware they would like to know more about the Election on May 6th and candidates they can vote for. 

We will be providing overview information on several seats prior to the Election. 

Please note: The SGA is not affiliated to any political party. The information is intended only as a helpful guide, offered from the perspective of members' interests, as requested.

People should vote according to personal choice. However, we will give advice for circumstances in which people would wish to vote solely for the purposes of protecting their profession.

SNP/Green pact: the consequences for rural workers.

In looking at seats, we have provided an analysis based on what candidates have done for rural workers in Holyrood or, if not yet elected, looked at their standpoints on issues to gauge where they might stand in relation to workers on river and land.

See our overviews of Perthshire South and Kinross-shire:

and Aberdeenshire West:

The introduction of new regional list parties, this time, introduces fresh dynamics but one particular potential alliance which rural workers should be wary of, if voting for professional reasons, is the potential for a deeper relationship between a dominant SNP and the Green Party. 

Following the 2016 Holyrood election, the SNP chose to form an alliance with the Greens in order to build a ‘majority’ which would enable them to pass budgets as Scotland’s Government. The Greens, too, are pro-independence. The partnership, therefore, was understandable. This alliance gave Scottish Government the numbers required to progress its priorities, with the Greens supporting budgets and even providing the balance to help tip crucial no confidence votes at the end of the term. 

In turn, however, the Scottish Government also had to accommodate the Green agenda when it came to bills, priorities and commitments. The urban-focused Greens wielded this influence punitively against sections of the land management community in the last Parliament, despite its vote share being 0.6% of the constituency vote and 6.6% of the regional vote in Scotland. (See: Greens in the last Parliament, below).

The perception from rural workers, which came to the fore in #RWP21, the Rural Workers’ Protest (and hence this article) was that this alliance had damaged trust in Scottish Government in issues affecting the countryside.

Rural workers who had supported SNP as a rural party or because they personally aspired to independence, had turned to other parties or had become disillusioned or torn because their hopes for their jobs and homes were at odds with their personal beliefs. If pushed, they felt they now had to speak up for their jobs, first. The adoption of Green priorities was cited as the principle cause of this change. 

Recent messaging and polling would suggest there may be little comfort for the voter falling into this category. 

Present polls suggest the Greens may move from the 6 seats won in 2016 to 10 or 11 seats. Should the SNP gain an outright majority, the need to partner with the Greens, on the face of it, has less urgency. 

However, if they fall short of a majority, the Greens’ will gain further ground as SNP’s partners in Edinburgh. Naturally, they will demand more in return. 

Recent stories have emerged which seem to suggest the prospect of a deeper alliance between the Greens and SNP are real, potentially regardless of whether that majority is secured or not. The reason for this would appear to be that this would strengthen the SNP’s hand to demand an independence referendum from Westminster. A report in the Daily Record quoted Green co-leader Lorna Slater as saying she would accept a Ministerial role.


If members intend to vote purely to benefit their employment as a rural worker, we felt it was important to make this information available. There may be other candidates or parties who have shown a willingness to work with, or listen to, rural workers. You should make yourself aware of these before heading to the polling booth.

Here is a handy full candidate list for the May 6th Election, published by the Daily Record. Punch in your postcode to find the full list of candidates for where you stay, and their parties:


Also, as mentioned in our other election overview articles, there are other pro-independence options on the ballot paper in the regional list other than the Greens (if independence is your prime motivation when voting). One obvious example is Alex Salmond’s recently created Alba Party.

Greens in the last Parliament:

The Scottish Green Party have inflicted damage to sections of the rural workforce and are outward when it comes to advocating policies that will harm existing rural employment. 

Vociferously opposed to the shooting community, they want to end grouse shooting and ban the use of hounds for fox management, see: They want to further restrict muirburn. 

Green MSP Alison Johnstone was the architect of the move to place mountain hares on Schedule 5, an ill-advised policy attached to a passing bill at Stage 3 during a pandemic which had no Parliamentary debate and no scrutiny by the Bill’s lead Committee. Mountain hares will now be killed under flexible licences for tree planting schemes, which the Greens favour. Other Green amendments were added to the Animals and Wildlife Bill at late stages such as reintroducing the ban on tail shortening of working dogs and restricting the ability to manage beavers, which would have adversely impacted farmers and some river workers. Andy Wightman, when working as a Green MSP, drove the suspension of muirburn during lockdown, in contrary to advice given to SGA members from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and NatureScot.

The Scottish Greens have acted as an unofficial Parliamentary delivery arm of the group, Revive, who want to end grouse shooting and place families on the dole. The Greens have been parroting false factsfrom Revive on 2021 election material. See:  The Scottish Greens want new Green jobs but are blind to the fact that those who will have to deliver climate mitigations, on the ground, are the very people they are trying to make unemployed.