The Scottish Greens have seen a surge of hundreds of new members since the Bute House Agreement with the SNP ended, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

The smaller pro-independence party led by Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have seen some 374 new members since the power sharing deal ended on April 25, bringing the party's total membership to around 7500.

A source said the seven days which followed the ending of the pact was its busiest in terms of people joining since 2014. 

Speaking exclusively to the Herald on Sunday, MSP Maggie Chapman, who is the party's equalities spokesperson, said that many of the new members had joined after ending their membership of the SNP.

She added that others had been supporters of the SNP with people from both groups indicating they had decided to switch parties over fears their former party may soften of its commitment to rights for LGBT people.

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"People are joining every day. But the total who have joined since April 25 when the Bute House Agreement ended is 350," said a party source.

"In the seven days since April 25 we had the most people joining in a week long period since the independence referendum."

Ms Chapman, pictured below, said: "People who we know were SNP members are now joining the Greens, even former SNP candidates and activists.

The Herald:

"Obviously we are a political party, we want membership, we want support, we want activists. But for me it comes to social justice and of the recognition of everyone's right to be regardless of their identity.

"It's really really important that people who are LGBTQIA+ feel that there are political voices who represent them, who are there standing up for them, and holding space for their rights and legal protections....The Greens are that safe space and if people don't feel they have that any more in a political party then of course if their values and beliefs are congruent with ours then of course we would welcome them."

The Greens membership boost has come after a dramatic week in politics with the appointment of John Swinney as First Minister and Kate Forbes as Deputy First Minister.

During the SNP's leadership race last year, when Ms Forbes was narrowly defeated by Humza Yousaf, she spoke about her opposition to equal marriage and expressed views against abortion and having children outside marriage.

The Herald: First Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes speaking to reporters outsideFirst Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes speaking to reporters outside Bute House last Wednesday.   Photo: PA.

The Greens voted against Ms Forbes nomination as DFM in parliament last week and on Thursday Mr Harvie launched a major attack on her opposition to equal marriage, as well as her views on abortion and having children outside marriage, accusing the new First Minister John Swinney of taking Scotland "back to the repressive 1950s" by giving her the role.

Mr Harvie's comments represented a major blow to the First Minister’s ability to rely on the Greens to win vital votes in parliament as head of a minority government.

Mr Harvie railed against the sackings of junior ministers including George Adam, who as the SNP’s business manager had a close relationship with the Greens when both parties were in government.

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“Progressive ministers sacked, and the second most powerful job in government given to someone who has opposed LGBT people’s legal equality, who has expressed judgmental attitudes to abortion, and who has even expressed the view that people who have families without being married are doing something wrong,” he said.

“Is this the Scottish Government’s vision for the future of Scotland — taking us back to the repressive values of the 1950s?”

Mr Swinney said that he would lead a “moderate left-of-centre” government for “a modern, dynamic and diverse Scotland”, adding: “When I say that I want to be the First Minister for everyone in Scotland I deeply mean that.”

Speaking outside the chamber on Thursday, Ms Forbes said that she had fully signed up to the government’s agenda “to improve and progress rights for all of Scotland’s communities”.

The Herald on Sunday asked Ms Chapman why the Greens could previously work with Ms Forbes as finance secretary when they had such concerns now.

The Greens MSP said there were commitments in the Bute House Agreement, signed in August 2021, over gender recognition reform and a ban on conversion practices and Ms Forbes had signed up to those as a member of the government.

"When we went into the Bute House Agreement in 2021 and prior to that the Greens worked with the SNP on a case by case basis," she said. 

"In 2021 Kate was already in Nicola Sturgeon's government, she was bound by collective responsibility. It was very clear she was bound by all the things in the Bute House Agreement and the two parties agreed to a shared policy programme.

"We saw that one person [Ash Regan] who wasn't happy with one element of it left government [over GRR]. I think the leadership contest a year ago made it very clear that without that binding of the Bute House Agreement we weren't sure how those views might play into political decision making and political direction and that is what gives us concern now. 

"Nicola Sturgeon had a good legacy of shifting the SNP to a more socially progressive views and her very strong personal commitments to [GRR and a ban on conversion practices] and that was the collective responsibility Kate was signed up to."

On Friday the First Minister met with the SNP LGBTQ+ wing Out for Independence which raised concerns about Ms Forbes's appointment as Deputy First Minister the previous day and said he was pleased with the positive talk about inclusivity.

Separately, he said the Scottish Government is committed to a ban on conversion therapy and is currently looking at the consultation responses.

After FMQs on Thursday, Ms Forbes said: "The First Minister has been absolutely clear that the Scottish Government intends to promote, to protect and to enhance the rights of every LGBT person in Scotland and I wholeheartedly endorse that position.

“When I joined Cabinet, as everybody does, I agreed to abide by collective responsibility. That is what I intend to do and I stand full square behind the First Minister as he seeks to serve everybody, including those in the LGBT community.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “As the largest political party – and pro-independence party – in Scotland, the SNP will continue delivering for people across the country and making the case for a stronger Scotland with independence.  

“In the face of a broken Brexit Britain, voting SNP at the next General Election is a chance for people in Scotland to make their voice heard - which is why page 1, line 1 of the SNP manifesto will read 'vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country'."  

As of 31 December 2023, SNP membership figure was 69,235.