ONE issue which unites a large part of contemporary Scottish politics – namely sections of the SNP, LabourToriesLib Dems, the political commentariat, media and business – is a near-universal disdain, bordering on contempt, for the Scottish Greens and wider green ideas.

In a political landscape supposedly disfigured by division and tribal warfare, this is one issue on which a huge segment of conventional opinion can find common ground and unite around – the extremism, even the evil and wickedness, of the Scottish Greens and the dangerous ideas they are trying to foist on the unsuspecting Scottish public.

One strand of this is a general, sweeping dismissal of all things Scottish Green. Former SNP minister and sitting MSP Fergus Ewing has always been an exponent of conservative Scotland, but his indictment of the Greens at the weekend was hyperbole.

He wrote of the SNP-Green agreement: “We’ve allied ourselves to a small group of fringe extremists that want to dismantle our economy, put hundreds of thousands on the dole and close down rural Scotland.

If that were not a long enough charge sheet, they are also coming for “our fish suppers”. How dare they, threatening our Scottish way of life!

If anyone thinks that is a one-off, here is a selection from the Scottish political commentariat.

Alex Massie called the Greens “dangerous extremists” and “genuinely wicked” – the latter being very traditionally Scottish in its idea of sin.

Chris Deerin was even more forthcoming when writing on the fall of Nicola Sturgeon, saying that she “lassoed herself to the anti-Nato, anti-growth, anti-woman Scottish Greens.” Deerin has form on the Greens, previously contemptuously describing them as “yappy, unserious Scottish Greens”, “extremist”and “radically left-wing and anti-economic growth.”

Iain Macwhirter claimed that “the Scottish Greens give student politics a bad name” – when he isn’t taking the ridiculous position of claiming “Humza Yousaf is the Scottish Jeremy Corbyn”.

Yesterday, the Greens were his main focus in a column in The Times where he wrote: “The Greens believe in a rural arcadia; a peasant society where everyone buys locally” and we are deliberately reduced to the subsistence of “a barter economy” – the latter a line also put by Massie.

Another line of attack is to take aim at green economics, critiques that emphasise the limits of GDP, and the idea of a wellbeing economy.

Massie devoted his entire Sunday Times column to the latter two weekends ago, writing on Twitter about it: “An early test of seriousness for the new first minister: do they ditch this faddish, ‘hello sky! hello flowers!’, nonsense about a ‘well-being economy’?” and that “A well-being economy is really just code for a poorer one.”

Macwhirter was on similar terrain, writing: “Wellbeing is a shorthand for the Scottish Green Party’s policy of degrowth” which is based he believes, citing the Greens, on “using politics to promote reduced consumption”.

Massie was challenged by a host of informed voices and experts in this area that he chose to ignore.

The economist Katherine Trebeck wrote: “There’s a significant material basis to wellbeing. A wellbeing economy is about designing the economy so it works for more and does so while not destroying our home.”

She cited the work in Scotland of the WEAII Alliance and went on: “It’s also more than better measures of progress – it’s about making those measures matter so the economy works better for more people, including future generations.”

Michael Roy, an expert in social enterprise, commented: “It’s Alex Massie who believes in fairy tales. The fairy tale of trickle-down. Faddish? The wellbeing economy concept is as old as economics! Most people believe our economy should serve people and planet rather than the other way around.”

The environmental writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh said of the narrow nature of GDP: “This is because if I crash the car the write-off replacement, the ambulance and the stay in hospital all generate GDP. But if a generous friend gives a lift so I don’t need a car, that quality of ‘wellbeing’ arising out of a healthy community is invisible to measurements of GDP.”

A wellbeing economy rather than something left-field and dangerous is increasingly championed around the world. As is understanding the limits of GDP, the appeal of new economic thinking and the need to recognise that conventional economics and growth models do not help the poor and disadvantaged – and hurt the planet.

As McIntosh puts it, the claims of Massie and Macwhirter that all this is “an affectation of the privileged. It lacks traction with the poor”, are ridiculous when mainstream economics and “trickle-down” have failed not only the poor, but those on average and above average incomes in the West.

A wellbeing economy is not only supported by the Scottish Greens, economists like Trebeck and the WEAll Alliance, but the Scottish Government – and the likes of the international economic think tank the OECD. The person who led the Scottish Government’s policy on this until recently, former finance secretary Kate Forbes, is the reactionaries’ new poster child.

Something is going on in these increasingly loud views; something deeply wrong about this near-comprehensive dismissal of the Greens and the wider constituency of green thinking. For one, it comes from people who like to think they challenge orthodoxy and who have continually called for “new thinking” to overturn what they perceive as the suffocating centrist “Scottish consensus” of recent decades.

When faced with the most consistent set of coherent, relevant new ideas in the past 40 years – that of the green movement – they cry heresy, extremism, environmental terrorism and the tyranny of “the new woke.”

There is a prevailing groupthink in their mantra of denigrating all things green. This is combined with a strange lack of curiosity and understanding of the global political and intellectual environmental movement, green economics and new economic thinking.

Macwhirter was once a fervent critic of finance capitalism post-banking crash, but now embraces its broken models. Deerin is head of Reform Scotland, a centre-right think tank supposedly committed to “new thinking” but which generally promotes the failed orthodoxies of recent decades.

None of this is to say the Greens are perfect or beyond criticism. The same is true of green thinking.

The Greens can be a bit puritan, sometimes other-worldly and for a party of supposedly cutting-edge ideas have their own perceived wisdoms that need challenging.

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the first election of the West German Greens, led by Petra Kelly, to the Bundestag.

They were the trailblazers of an international movement – anti-system, linked to social movements, anti-nuclear weapons and power – and with a cutting edge which the Scottish, or English and Welsh, Greens, have never had.

The Greens have been in the Scottish Parliament since its establishment 24 years ago. At the 2021 election, they won 8.1% of the regional vote and elected eight MSPs – double the Lib Dems – hardly on any measure can this be as Ewing described the “extremist fringe”.

Something even more damaging is going on in a prominent section of the Scottish political commentariat.

Their increasingly assertive advocacy for a right-wing economic and social model and way of thinking – which is under more scrutiny and questioning around the world – shows a lack of curiosity, imagination and willful ignorance.

Such a perspective is out of touch with the challenges of now and the future, and is the take of an old privileged guard who refuse to adapt to the new times.

There is no future in perpetuating the conventional economics, current zombie capitalism and its resultant broken, corrupt politics.

This is not to say that everything the Greens or wider green movement do is right or beyond reproach, but at least get the basics right and do the minimum research.

The economist Helen Thompson in her impressive analysis of the state of the world – economically, in energy and environmental crisis, and politics – Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century, concluded by observing: “Careering between the ideas of technologically driven salvation and an inescapable Gotterdammerung is a hopeless response.”

Some green approaches such as Extinction Rebellion can make the mistake of apocalyptic warnings which leave most of us powerless – a point McIntosh made in his survey of the climate crisis, Riders on the Storm.

But overall the green movement has been a huge positive, bringing up issues central to humanity and the planet, inspiring young people and making politics more relevant for many disenfranchised from mainstream politics.

The Greens have added to the Scottish Parliament by challenging the staid economic conservatism of the other parties.

It is about time that the reactionary political commentariat got with the programme, recognise the Scottish and global challenges we face and accept that new green thinking and ideas need to be encouraged not belittled.