Tax changes such as the introduction of a new levy on Scotland’s millionaires are a crucial part of plans to build a “better and greener future”, Patrick Harvie has said.
The co-leader of the Scottish Greens has unveiled his party’s manifesto for next month’s Holyrood election.
It sets out plans to create 100,000 new jobs in what the party proposes would be a “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.
The party says changes to the tax system are vital to invest in this plan and the necessary infrastructure changes.
The Greens are proposing a windfall tax on companies that have made a profit during the pandemic – something which could be levied against major online retailers and large supermarket chains.
Their manifesto also seeks to introduce a millionaires’ tax – a 1% annual levy charged against all wealth and assets above the £1 million threshold – which the Greens said would “only apply to the wealthiest 10% in society”.
Mr Harvie said these new taxes would be “crucial, both to fund our aspirations for stronger and better public services, and to build a more equal Scotland”.
He insisted “taxing wealth properly is now more urgent than ever before”.
The election manifesto also commits the party to supporting a second independence referendum within the five-year term of the next Scottish Parliament.
It also vows to recruit an extra 5,500 teachers for Scotland’s schools.
The party says this would help cut class sizes to a maximum of 20, and allow teachers to spend just 20 hours a week in the classroom, giving them more time to prepare lessons.
Also on education, the party vows to scrap the standardised assessments currently carried out from P1 to S3, and increase the school age to seven, with kindergarten-style play-based learning put in place for youngsters from the age of three onwards.
To boost supplies of renewable energy, Greens want to double the size of Scotland’s onshore wind sector by installing about 200 turbines every year for a decade.
They want to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2026 – six years ahead of the timetable already outlined by the Scottish Government, saying this would “make a major contribution to our climate goals and prevent deaths from air pollution”.
The party also aims to extend the Young Person’s Guarantee, which promises work, training or a formal volunteering position to young people who are not in employment or further education, to all under 30 and to all those working in the oil and gas industry.
Speaking about the manifesto, fellow co-leader Lorna Slater said: “We will invest in Scotland, create jobs, revive industry and build the modern infrastructure the country urgently needs.
“It is a programme of change because in the face of climate emergency and the economic fallout of the pandemic, we need change.
“It is bold, it is transformational. But it is also the minimum Scotland needs to do to keep up with the rest of the world, to emerge from this pandemic and help lead the global transition to a zero-carbon society.”
Mr Harvie refused to say if the Greens would go into coalition with the SNP if Nicola Sturgeon’s party fails to win a majority at the election.
“The outcome that we’re looking for from this election is as many Green MSPs as possible,” he said.
“The opinion polls are showing there is not a single area of Scotland where you can’t get Green MSPs elected, so this could be the election where we represent every part of Scotland for the first time ever.
“We’re focused on getting that maximum number of Green MSPs and it is for the people of Scotland to decide what the overall balance is.
“And it will be for the biggest party, if they don’t have a majority on their own, to decide whether they want to govern as a minority, as in the past, or whether they want to ask others to talk.
“I really don’t think it’s worth speculating beyond that until we count the votes.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Greens are no different to Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP in their determination to force through another damaging independence referendum when all our focus should be on recovery.
“Patrick Harvie admits he would back an SNP minority government at Holyrood but his manifesto pledges lay bare the price ordinary Scots would be expected to pay for this nightmare alliance.
“Not content with shutting down the North Sea oil and gas industry with the loss of 100,000 jobs, the Greens would also suffocate economic growth across Scotland.
“Hard-working families would be crippled by eye-watering tax rises which, rather than increasing public revenue, would choke the economy, crush aspiration and devastate our public services.”