ONE of the SNP's most senior Holyrood backbenchers has become the latest of the party's MSPs to call for the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens to be reviewed. 

Kenneth Gibson, who represents Cunninghame North and who is also convener of the Scottish Parliament's finance committee, said the SNP is coming off “worse” under the arrangement than the Scottish Greens.

It is the first time Mr Gibson has spoken out publicly on the matter and his views echo concerns made previously by former finance secretary and SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes and former rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing.

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Mr Gibson claimed his own party is suffering as a result of policies which came about due to the deal with the Greens.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has stressed the importance of the agreement in securing a pro-independence majority for the Scottish Government at Holyrood and campaigned for the arrangement to continue during the SNP's leadership race last year.

The Herald: SNP MSP Kenny Gibson.   Photo: Getty.

He recently signalled it will continue even if the SNP loses seats at the upcoming general election.

Mr Gibson shared his thoughts in an interview with Holyrood magazine, but stopped short of saying the agreement with the Greens should be halted.

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He said: “I certainly think it should be reviewed.

“I think many of the things that the SNP Government has been blamed for have been because of the Bute House Agreement: the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the deposit return scheme, and even the reduction in grants. The SNP gets the blame.

The Herald: The Bute House Agreement being unveiled in August 2021.   Photo PA.

“There was an announcement that we’re going to look at the abolition of council tax, why was that made by a junior Green minister? Why was it not made by a member of the Cabinet or even the First Minister?

“I think usually in a coalition the smaller parties tend to suffer, for example the Lib Dems when they were in with Labour, whereas in this instance, which isn’t even a full coalition, it’s the SNP that has come out of it worse.”

Mr Gibson said a “big chunk” of the SNP shares his view that the agreement should be reviewed, though some feel so “quietly”.

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The MSP, who was first elected in 1999, also warned his party not to be complacent.

“I take the view that 75% of SNP voters used to vote for somebody else,” he said. “It’s not a tribal vote, not like with other parties where some people vote the way they do because their granny did. So, I always say we have to keep on our toes to ensure we aren’t complacent like the Labour Party was before it was wiped out.” 

The senior backbencher added that he has not yet formed a view on the Scottish Government’s proposals for a ban on conversion therapy but he is “not convinced it is a priority”.

The Bute House Agreement was unveiled by former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, alongside Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, in August 2021.

It brought the Greens into government for the first time in the UK with Mr Harvie and Ms Slater becoming junior ministers.

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As well the publication of common policy platform, the deal requires Scottish Greens MSPs to support the government in no confidence votes and on the budget.

In the interview, Mr Gibson also discussed the death of his son last year, describing it as “very difficult, stressful and upsetting”.

In 2009, Mr Gibson and his wife, the SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran Patricia Gibson, suffered the death of a baby son, who was still born.

“I have lost two sons, in 2009 and 2023. It’s hard. But I am resilient. Resilience is important in life, otherwise it can overwhelm you. But don’t get me wrong, they were very bleak moments," ge said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said: “Our co-operation agreement is protecting people and planet from the ravages of the Westminster-driven cost-of-living crisis while working to create a more progressive, inclusive and environmentally friendly society in an independent Scotland.”

A spokesperson for the SNP said: “SNP members voted overwhelmingly to support the Bute House Agreement in 2021, and less than a year ago they voted to elect First Minister Humza Yousaf as party leader, who stood on a platform endorsing the arrangement with the Greens, which reinforces the pro-independence majority at Holyrood.

“Support for the Bute House Agreement has delivered results such as securing a better deal for tenants, accelerating Scotland’s progress to Net Zero, and launching free bus travel for under 22-year-olds.”