SNP split from Greens boosts Keir Starmer’s election chances, say Labour insiders

Estimated read time 3 min read

An increasingly bitter split between the SNP and the Greens has brought even more Scottish parliamentary seats into play for Keir Starmer, Labour figures believe, amid a desperate fight by first minister Humza Yousaf to stay in power.

Yousaf has already refused to rule out a Holyrood election as he faces damaging no-confidence motions this week. On Saturday he wrote to the leaders of Scotland’s political parties in an attempt to find “common ground” following his decision to axe a coalition with the Scottish Greens that had propped up his government. Yousaf maintained that it would be a “poor choice” for the Greens to back a no-confidence motion in his minority government.

However, hopes are growing among Labour insiders that the fallout between the SNP and the Greens could have serious consequences for the forthcoming Westminster general election. They believe the split could dent any prospect of the Greens helping the SNP by not running a candidate in some seats – or soft-pedalling during the election to help their former coalition partners.

That could bring more seats into play for Labour should the SNP vote be suppressed. “The two parties were very cooperative,” said a source. “There was always a risk that, in the UK general election, there were some constituencies where the Greens might not stand in order to help the SNP hold on. Clearly, that’s not going to happen now. That kind of splintering of the coalition could help Labour in a few seats.”

Insiders said it could have consequences in crucial seats around Glasgow. Labour’s polling performance has also seen the party’s ambitions grow. It now hopes to be competitive in seats such as East Renfrewshire, where it came a distant third at the last election.

It comes with the fallout still unfolding from Yousaf’s decision to end the SNP’s historic coalition with the Greens. His fate could yet come down to whether or not he is supported by the Alba party’s Ash Regan. When she defected from the SNP, Yousaf described her departure as “no great loss”.

Her vote may now be crucial in forthcoming confidence votes in Yousaf and his government. The ruling body of the pro-independence Alba party, led by former first minister Alex Salmond, is holding meetings this weekend to discuss its next moves and how Regan will vote. With pressure on him building, the first minister is now attempting to build bridges with the other political parties at Holyrood, via a series of emergency meetings at his official residence.

He plans to meet each group at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss how they can “contribute constructively”.

Yousaf has already opted not to quit after the backlash from his decision to end the coalition agreement with the Greens, which came after he decided to abandon the party’s “world leading” target to cut Scotland’s carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. That provoked a rebellion by the Scottish Greens’ party members.

His future is now linked to two forthcoming no-confidence votes tabled by Labour and the Conservatives. He said it would be a “poor choice” for the Scottish Greens to back such a motion.


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