Ex-Greens co-leader quits party because it has 'lost the plot'

Robin Harper criticised the party for its pro-independence support and its position on trans rights.

Ex-Scottish Greens co-leader quits party because it has ‘lost the plot’ under Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie Getty Images

The former co-leader of the Scottish Greens has quit his life membership of the party.

In a scathing letter to the current leadership, Robin Harper claimed the Greens had “lost the plot”.

He criticised the party for its pro-independence stance and position on transgender rights.

The Greens said support for trans rights and Scottish independence has been at the core of the party since it was founded more than 30 years ago.

Harper is the UK’s first Green parliamentarian, serving as the Lothians MSP from 1999 to 2011.

He now works for Gordon Brown’s pro-union think tank Our Scottish Future.

Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie were accused of leading a party that has 'lost the plot'.STV News

He said the current party, which is now led by Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, had gone too far to the left.

In a letter, published in The Times newspaper, he wrote: “As you know, I am politically left of centre, and with the Socialists to the left of us I felt the Scottish Green Party was in the right place.

“I have watched with some concern the Scottish Green Party moving into the gap left by the Socialists in content, and also adopting their stridency of expression.”

Harper said he was “troubled” by the party’s stance on a number of issues and that he would fight “any attempt to needlessly destroy the United Kingdom”.

He added that he had “serious concerns about the way we are handling the situation with the trans community”.

He continued: “My concern that the Scottish Green Party’s public image has been damaged by its failure to co-operate meaningfully with other interests, including the Westminster government, is reinforced by the huge number of friends, acquaintances and random contacts who have expressed to me an opinion that the Scottish Green Party has lost the plot.”

He said the Greens are no longer a “pressure group” and should “listen as much as they shout, or the Green agenda will not progress”.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens thanked Harper for his work as an MSP and as a “tireless advocate” for the environment.

Robin Harper criticised the Greens' stance on transgender rights.STV News

They added: “Our party has always been committed to social and environmental justice as well as to independence. With Scottish Greens now in government, we are turning long-held policies such as free bus travel for young people, investing in restoring Scotland’s natural environment, and a cap on rent rises into reality.

“This is delivering what Robin and others could only have wished for back in the early days of devolution.

“Independence and human rights, including the rights of trans people, are at the core of our vision and have been since our party was founded over 30 years ago.

“Our commitment to that vision has seen us achieve record result after record result in recent elections.

“The climate crisis will be the defining environmental issue for this generation and all future generations. It is only by building on this green change that we can deliver a fairer, greener and better future for Scotland.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said the letter from Harper should give First Minister Humza Yousaf “food for thought”.

“The SNP First Minister should not continue to be in thrall to the extremist and anti-growth Greens, who he is using to help push his independence obsession rather than focusing on Scotland’s real priorities,” he said.

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