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JENNY HJUL: Andy Wightman shows dangers in SNP alliance with Green bullies and extremists

Former Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman has lifted the lid on his departure from the party.
Former Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman has lifted the lid on his departure from the party.

The SNP is said to be near to agreeing a deal with the Scottish Greens that will create a pro-independence alliance, but given the latest revelations about the party’s inner workings  – courtesy of former member and MSP Andy Wightman – Nicola Sturgeon’s government has nothing to gain from further association with this discredited mob.

The Scottish Green Party has been denounced as “censorious, bullying and intimidatory” and long-serving co-leader Patrick Harvie exposed as dictatorial and vengeful.

To recap, Andy Wightman quit the movement to which he has devoted most of his adult life before the Scottish elections in May.

His reasons cited at the time concerned the Greens’ intolerance towards debate, not on the environment but on transgender politics.

Andy Wightman went on to contest the election as an independent candidate but failed to secure enough votes.

He has now published a blog which lays bare the circumstances surrounding his rift with his former colleagues.

It makes for grim reading and should be a warning to every Scot, regardless of their opinion on independence, that the Scottish Greens under their current leadership are not fit for office or any extension of their existing influence over government.

Wightman had agreed that neither he nor the party would comment on his exit last December, but he now feels forced to put the record straight following a campaign of “false allegations” made against him.

Andy Wightman arrives at the election count in Inverness after standing as an independent candidate.

Relations soured between Andy Wightman and the Green hierarchy when the former Lothians list MSP took exception to party diktats on gender identity.

He had begun to have misgivings about senior party members’ public pronouncements on sex and gender, admitting to being “genuinely perplexed” when the then party co-convenor, Maggie Chapman, claimed, during a television interview in 2019, that sex was not binary.

There may be many genders, but only two sexes, said Wightman, scientific facts that he was later expected to disavow.

The backdrop was the government’s Gender Recognition Act – proposed legislation that has fuelled bitter divisions over trans rights within the SNP and the Greens, alienating many female members in a climate of misogyny.

Andy Wightman becomes smear target

The turning point for Andy Wightman came when he attended a meeting at Edinburgh University on women’s sex-based rights.

Harvie asked him to apologise – just for being there – and said he “needed to eat some humble pie”.

Quickly, Wightman became the subject of smears and internal complaints, the details of which were not disclosed.

His next crime was to sign a parliamentary motion by the then Labour MSP Jenny Marra stating that universities should be safe places to hold controversial discussions, and there was no place for violence or threats of violence towards women engaging in public life (a female speaker at the Edinburgh meeting had been assaulted as she left.)

Incredibly, Harvie instructed Green MSPs not to back the motion.

Andy Wightman( third right) with fellow Scottish Green Party candidates for the 2016 Holyrood elections.

Then, at the Scottish Greens’ conference that year, a motion noted the departure from the party of female activists.

It added that some members felt “inhibited from expressing their views publicly” at Green Party events, and called for more “open, inclusive and egalitarian practices”.

When the motion did not succeed, the reaction from delegates, said Andy Wightman, was “to whoop and cheer’”.

Feminists in the party were disparaged and labelled “transphobes”, as was Wightman, he claims, by Harvie as well as by other Greens.

A party with a problem

So, we have a picture emerging of a party leader and his disciples with a clear problem not just when it comes to supporting women’s rights but with women in general, or anyone for that matter who refused to conform to their zealotry.

The final straw for Andy Wightman came when he approved of an amendment by Labour MSP Johann Lamont to allow victims of sex crimes to choose the sex, rather than the gender, of the person examining them.

His Green Party colleagues told him “in very stark terms” that voting yes to the amendment would lead to action against him, including deselection and suspension.

Although he voted against Lamont’s motion, fearing for his job, Wightman decided to leave the party that same night. Party members who supported him were suspended.

As a politician, Andy Wightman remained popular with the grass roots.

He was selected as number two on the Lothian List ahead of the 2021 election, with 133 first votes from the party, second to Alison Johnstone with 191 and with co-leader Lorna Slater (who was to take his place when he resigned) in third place with 36.

He was also respected across the Scottish political spectrum by everyone, it seems, but his own comrades.

But it is not his personal reputation that makes his account of his former party’s tactics so damaging. Wightman has shone a spotlight on a culture of extremism that would be alarming in a fringe group, but is plain dangerous anywhere close to the seat of government.

JENNY HJUL: Scottish Greens pose an oversized threat to all our lives