The speech made by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, on 20 August 2021.
I am delighted to confirm that the Scottish Government has reached a proposed Co-operation Agreement with the Scottish Greens.
“Working Together to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland” is a groundbreaking agreement – in both Scottish and, perhaps even more so, UK politics.
Most importantly, it is an agreement that meets the challenges and opportunities of our time.
Scotland is of course more than our politics – but it is through our politics that we express our hopes for a better future and turn those hopes into reality.
We live in a time when the challenges we face have rarely been greater.
The climate emergency;
Recovery from a global pandemic;
An assault by the UK government on the powers of our Parliament;
And the consequences to our economy, society and place in the world of a disastrous Brexit that Scotland did not vote for.
And, yet, despite the magnitude of these challenges, many of them global, today’s politics can too often feel small – polarised, divided and incapable of meeting the moment.
This Agreement is intended to change that in Scotland.
It is about doing politics and governance better.
Co-operation and collaboration – in place of division and acrimony – is, in my experience, what most people want to see much more of from their politicians.
It is also essential if we are to find the solutions needed to solve the problems confronting the world today.
And of course, that spirit of co-operation and consensus-building is very much in keeping with the founding principles of our Scottish Parliament.
Our parties will retain our distinctive identities – this is not a Coalition – and we do not agree on everything. But we are coming out of our comfort zones to focus on what we do agree on.
Despite all the risks inherent in any decision of two parties to co-operate more closely, we are choosing to work together.
And we are doing so – not out of political necessity – but for the common good.
The agreement delivers bold policy action on pressing issues.
A commitment to more affordable housing, a better deal for tenants and action to tackle poverty and inequality.
Steps to accelerate our transition to net zero – more support for active travel, transformation of home energy and a ten year transition fund for the North East of Scotland.
A focus on green jobs and fair work – and a sustainable recovery from Covid.
And action to improve mental health and reform public services – including the establishment of a National Care Service.
We also reaffirm in this Agreement our shared commitment to securing independence for Scotland, and to giving people the right to choose our country’s future through a referendum.
The Agreement also sets out the processes of co-operation and consultation that will enable a stable parliamentary majority for the delivery of the Scottish Government’s legislative and policy programme.
And, of course, for the first time in UK politics, it will see Greens enter national government as ministers, working in a spirit of common endeavour, mutual challenge and collective responsibility to deliver for the people we serve.
In the coming days, this Agreement will be scrutinised by our respective parties. I will commend it strongly to mine.
But the publication of this Agreement today marks a historic moment.
It recognises that business as usual is not good enough in the times we are living through.
It grasps that – out of great challenge – a better world and a better Scotland is capable of being born.
And it understands that achieving it will take boldness, courage and a will to do things differently.
That is what we offer.
I want to thank the Scottish Greens for the constructive process that has led us to this agreement and say how much I hope that we will work together in the years ahead to secure the greener, fairer, independent Scotland that we know is possible.