world : Former Scottish Greens leader Robin Harper joins Labour

world : Former Scottish Greens leader Robin Harper joins Labour
world : Former Scottish Greens leader Robin Harper joins Labour

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:52 PM

Nafeza 2 world - A former Scottish Greens leader and MSP has joined the Scottish Labour Party.

Robin Harper, who was the UK's first Green parliamentarian, criticised the SNP and his former party for failing on the environment.

In a letter to voters in Edinburgh, he said voting for Labour in this election was the "only way to get rid of the Tories".

Last year, Mr Harper resigned his life membership of the Scottish Greens, saying he believed the party had "lost the plot".

In his resignation letter he told co-leader Patrick Harvie he was concerned by the party's pro-independence stance and its position on gender issues.

He said then that he hoped the Scottish parliament would "return to listening mode when the Cass and Sandyford reports have been published" and "overhaul of the way our child and adolescent mental health services are working".

The Cass report, authored by one of the UK's leading paediatricians, found weak evidence to support the use of puberty blockers when it was published in April but Patrick Harvie then questioned its scientific validity.

Mr Harper served as a Lothians MSP between 1999 and 2011 and was co-convener of the party from 2004 to 2008.

Writing to voters in Scotland's capital city, Mr Harper said: "I desperately want to see the back of this Conservative government, who have crashed our economy, degraded our political life and failed to tackle climate change.

“The SNP, and until recently their Green coalition partners, have also failed to take action on the environment."

He added: “Labour is the only party with a plan for combatting climate change and harnessing the potential of the green industrial revolution.

“This election provides us with a now-or-never opportunity to remove the Tories from power and end the chaos, failure and inaction that has marked their fourteen years in government."

Ian Murray, Labour candidate for Edinburgh South, said he was delighted Mr Harper was helping his campaign.

“Robin is one of the most respected parliamentarians of the devolution era," he said.

“His decision to join the Scottish Labour Party demonstrates that we are the only party with a clear plan to deliver on Scotland’s green potential – creating thousands of clean energy jobs and cutting energy bills for good, with GB Energy paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants."

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said it was a "disappointing" move.

"Labour have abandoned their key promise of £28bn a year in climate investments, doubled down on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and backtracked on workers’ rights," a statement from the party said.

"None of these are core green values, so it is really disappointing and sad that Robin has chosen to compromise on those.”

Robin Harper's decision to “defect” to Labour is hardly a surprise.

He was pictured earlier this month volunteering in the office of a Labour candidate in Edinburgh preparing campaign leaflets.

The first ever Green parliamentarian in the UK, Mr Harper was certainly a trail-blazer.

He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 1999, before Caroline Lucas was elected as the UK’s first ever Green MEP the following month.

In his resignation statement, he says Labour are best placed to get rid of the Conservatives.

He’s critical of the Tories, the SNP – but also his old party, the Greens.

In particular, he hits out at the lack of action on the environment when the Greens were in their government partnership with the SNP.

But he’s been politically homeless for some time – having quit the Greens last summer over their views on independence and trans rights.

Harper clearly didn’t feel comfortable any more in the party he launched and led in Scotland.

The open letter announcing his defection makes clear his dedication to the cause – holding the first ever Scottish Green party AGM in his Edinburgh flat in 1985 with only 35 members.

Despite his Green heritage, his old comrades won’t be too bothered by this defection, so it's only a small victory for Labour to trumpet.

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