Humza Yousaf: The SNP will not be eligible if we tear up the deal with the Greens

While the tone of yesterday’s debate was considerably quieter than Tuesday night’s televised exchange, clear disagreement emerged among candidates over the future of the Bute House accord signed in 2021.

Ms Forbes, the Finance Minister, underlined her vision of increasing Scotland’s prosperity to reduce poverty, but questioned whether the Greens would share her view of putting the economy “at the centre”.

She said she had “no doubts about the challenges of a minority government” and pointed out that in the past she had worked with the Greens in budget negotiations during the last parliament when the SNP ruled without a majority.

But she added: “I really think that in this election we need to get a handle on economic prosperity. So obviously when it came to the Bute House agreement, one of the areas that was excluded was the economy.

CONTINUE READING: No now nine points ahead of yes in new independence poll

“So I think there would have to be a conversation. I’m willing to work with the Greens and the question for them is if they would be willing to work with me on putting that economic prosperity front and center because I think that’s the only way out of poverty to eliminate?”

She added: “The only way to eradicate poverty is to create well-paying, secure jobs and find the funds to reinvest in our public services.

“To me, this point of economic prosperity is non-negotiable because it is so fundamental to our agenda as a government. I would extend my hand to work with them, but it’s up to them if they can work with me.”

In contrast, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf issued a stark warning of what he believed to be the impact of the Bute House deal failure. He pointed out that this would mean the end of the independence majority in parliament and difficulties in securing the support of other parties to pass legislation.

“If the first act of the new First Minister is to reject and tear up the agreement with the only other pro-independence party in the Scottish Parliament. This is not a unit. That will not advance our cause. That won’t help us with independence,” he said.

“Our majority for independence in Parliament. If that’s the first act of tearing this up, then not only are we becoming ungovernable, we’re becoming unelectable.”

Ash Regan, the former community security minister, took a strong position against going ahead with the deal.

“I am not ready to join a coalition at any cost. You know, I think coalitions can be good and work, but not at any price. So I’m not afraid to operate in a minority government, if it comes to that I would take up that challenge,” she said.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, centre, with Scottish Green Party Deputy Leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, after the signing of the Bute House Agreement in August 2021. Photo PA.

CONTINUE READING: Forbes Stands By Yousaf Criticism, Says SNP Needs Leader With ‘Courage’

The three candidates had previously called for party unity after an exceptionally heated personal exchange in the STV debate on Tuesday.

Mr Yousaf, Ms Forbes and Ms Regan all tried to strike a more positive note at the recent hustings, held in Johnstone and chaired by former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

On Tuesday night, Ms Forbes openly attacked Mr Yousaf’s record as minister and even suggested she might not appoint him back to his health role if she became first minister.

Mr Yousaf, in turn, accused Ms Forbes of “leaving us about £600m short” in budget talks with Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor and claimed she was planning to pull the SNP to the right.

But tonight, in his opening speech, the health secretary said he would be “relentlessly positive” and said any “mud fight” and “personal attacks” would only benefit the party’s opponents.

He added: “Let me make a promise and an absolute promise. And you hold me accountable for this promise that I will not say anything negative about other candidates.”

CONTINUE READING: Yousaf slams Cherry for sharing a ‘disgusting’ Twitter post

He went on to say that party members are “rightly proud” of the SNP’s record in government.

“It’s not a mediocre record. It’s a record we should be proud of. You should be proud that we have abolished tuition fees, you should be proud that we have the pioneering Scottish child payment.

“You should be proud of the baby box. You should be proud of the personal and nurturing care. You should be proud that in every round we have the weakest and poorest. Firstly, you should be proud of the legacy of Nicola Sturgeon because she has done an incredible job for our movement, for our party and for our country,” he said.

Ms Forbes also underscored a message of unity, adding that it does not mean “oneness”.

She told party members: “The SNP has always been successful when we were united, but unity is not unity. And in this campaign, I think it’s an opportunity to reflect on what steps are needed to get to independence, because this campaign is about independence, it’s about who is best equipped and who is has the best plan to lead us to independence, and independence is not an end in itself.

She added: “We are united while creating space for debate and discussion. And the last thing I’m going to say before I stop is that it’s only going to get there together. What a team, what a family. And my friends and colleagues on This platform has great talent. Each of our members brings talent and skills as party members.”

Ms Regan added: “I think we need to heal the cracks in our own party. I think we’ve had some divisions lately and I think we need to reach out and unite and inspire the broader independence movement too, because I think it’s just a group, you know this really big group, right across Scotland, acting as one, that we’re going to be able to make these really strong arguments.

During the debate, party members questioned the candidates about their plans to achieve independence and their commitment to LGBT rights.

They were also urged to launch a legal challenge to the UK Government for its blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and asked for their views on council tax reform and relations with local government. Humza Yousaf: The SNP will not be eligible if we tear up the deal with the Greens

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