The Scottish Government has recently found itself at odds with the Green Party over accusations that public funding is supporting arms manufacturing.

Greens MSP Ross Greer criticised a £360,000 grant to BAE Systems, alleging it funds an “arms factory.”

However, this claim overlooks the fact that the grant is intended to enhance skills and support job creation in Glasgow’s shipbuilding sector, specifically for constructing naval frigates.

During First Minister’s Question Time on 30 May 2024, Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie intensified the critique, accusing the Scottish Government of indirectly funding military activities through grants to companies like Raytheon, BAE Systems, and Leonardo. Harvie argued that even if the grants are not directly supporting munitions production, they still contribute to the broader military infrastructure.

“If we contribute to building a bigger bomb factory, we do not get to say that we have not funded the production of the bombs,” Harvie claimed. He pressed the First Minister to immediately change the policy and cease financial support for these companies.

Harvie continued to press the First Minister, expressing frustration at the lack of decisive action from the Scottish Government. He pointed out the urgent need for a clear stance on the matter, especially in light of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian issues in the Middle East.

“This is in a time when the world is recoiling in revulsion at the appalling attacks, including the most recent attacks against Palestinians sheltering in Rafah,” Harvie said. “It is shocking and inexplicable that, at the same time the Scottish Government is calling for an end to arms sales, it is directly funding those manufacturers. Will the First Minister change that policy immediately?”

First Minister’s Response

First Minister John Swinney strongly rebutted Harvie’s analogy, clarifying that the grants in question are strictly used for specific purposes that benefit the local economy and workforce.

“I do not think that the analogy that he strikes about the construction of a weapons factory is a particularly fair analogy for the support that we put in place,” Swinney said. “Our enterprise agencies have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that any funding provided is used only for the specific purpose for which it is intended. If Mr Harvie would care to correspond with me in more detail, I will happily explore the issues that he raises.”

Swinney acknowledged the serious issues raised by Harvie but stressed that the government’s actions must be legally justifiable. He indicated willingness to investigate further if provided with detailed concerns.

“I will consider carefully the points that Mr Harvie has raised about any support for companies that are involved in this activity,” Swinney stated. “If Mr Harvie and Mr Greer would care to provide me with the material about which they are concerned, I will investigate and determine whether the Government can do more. I will, of course, update Parliament on those investigations.”

Purpose of the Funding

The grant to BAE Systems is part of a broader £300 million investment in shipbuilding on the Clyde, including constructing a £12 million shipbuilding academy in Glasgow. The grant aims to support local industry and job creation within Scotland. It is entirely focused on shipbuilding activities, not on the production of munitions or weaponry used in the Middle East conflict.

Specifically, it is for “training staff in new ways of constructing naval ships on the Clyde,”.

Paul Sweeney MSP, who previously worked at BAE Systems’ shipyards on the Clyde and subsequently as an Account Manager at Scottish Enterprise before being elected to Parliament, where he now convenes the Cross Party Group on Maritime and Shipbuilding, remarked on the importance of this grant:

“This new academy will not just upskill the existing workforce in Glasgow but will become a national centre of excellence for shipbuilding skills development. It is precisely the investment that the state should be making to support the growth of what remains the largest manufacturing industry in the West of Scotland and the country’s biggest employer of apprentices, with 300 apprentices and graduates joining the Clydeside workforce this year alone.”

The Greens’ claims of funding an “arms factory” appear misguided, as the grant is focused on job creation and skill enhancement in Glasgow’s shipbuilding sector. Furthermore, the Greens’ stance can be seen as hypocritical, given their support for economic development in other contexts while criticising a grant that benefits the local workforce.

Swinney’s rebuttal underscores the importance of ensuring that any actions taken are legally sound and economically beneficial.

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Larry (@guest_823520)
1 month ago

Greens in Scotland talking BS as usual.
Even the Greens in England have disassociated themselves from the Scottish Greens.. Ross Greer is a load mouthed twat. No wonder the SNP kicked them out of government.. They wasted millions on the cock eyed green impractical projects.

Tim (@guest_823649)
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry

Yes the greens in England have definitely gone a different way that’s for sure with chants of god is great and a anti Jewish stance there definitely different

Brom (@guest_823531)
1 month ago

And the greens would defend the UK by……… what exactly?

We’d all love a world where we didn’t need militaries but defence of the realm is the first responsibility of government

Bob79 (@guest_823544)
1 month ago
Reply to  Brom

Please tell rishi that

Jon (@guest_823560)
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob79

Why? If enough people told him, he’d just repeat the soundbite, as Keir Starmer already has. It only gets us somewhere if the meaning sinks in and he does something bold before the election.We all know he won’t be doing anything afterwards.

Jonno (@guest_823536)
1 month ago

Its logical to presume if they got into Government the Greens would raise the white flag and allow their wives and family to be raped, themselves to be mutilated as is happening in Ukraine, etc.
How much damage they are capable of is probably limitless. A pointless party of extremists. How they get more than 1% of votes beggars belief.

Jon (@guest_823561)
1 month ago

It’s amazing that Harvie is worried that we won’t be able to say we haven’t funded the production of bombs.

We have funded the production of bombs. Of course we have. We just haven’t funded enough of them.

terence patrick hewett
terence patrick hewett (@guest_823578)
1 month ago

Just children who won’t eat their Greens.

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_823580)
1 month ago

Greens are full of crap ,that bunch of pathetic people are a waste of space in Scotland, their stupid ideas have cost the taxpayers in Scotland a lot of wasted money that should have gone elsewhere, THE MUPPET PARTY ,RUN BY A FAIRY AND THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE, treat them like covid ,keep your distance, these idiots are so blind ,stupid and would get wiped out by an enemy of britain 🇬🇧,

Richard (@guest_823602)
1 month ago

The Green Party, whether it be in Scotland, or any other part of the UK, are Putin’s useful idiots!

taffybadger (@guest_823650)
1 month ago

Why are Greens getting into this political vortex over Israel? I thought they stood for Green policies? this is just going to split supporters who thought they were politically neutral…or am I being naïve ?