THE Scottish Greens shrugged off an attack from Labour yesterday after Kezia Dugdale’s party accused them of abandoning their eco ethics to become SNP axemen.

Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish went on the offensive on the eve of today’s Scottish Greens conference, saying: “The Scottish Greens used to prioritise the environment but now their main purpose appears to be helping the SNP to force through cuts to local services like schools and hospitals, and pushing for another divisive independence referendum.

“Voting with the SNP to impose a further £170 million worth of cuts on local services like schools and care of the elderly was a shameful betrayal of all that Patrick Harvie has previously campaigned for.

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“It is the Labour Party that has proposed a bill to ban fracking in Scotland, not the Greens. Only Labour are focused on investing in our public services and banning fracking in Scotland.”

The comments came as the Greens work to capitalise on gains made in Holyrood, where the party now has six MSPs, by fielding more than 200 council candidates in May. Opening today’s conference in Glasgow, party co-convener Maggie Chapman is expected to say: “Green councillors will be champions for change and the voices for renewal that our councils need to support caring and creating communities across Scotland.

“We are the only party in Scotland that seems to be taking these elections seriously as local council elections, where local people get to decide what happens in their local areas. Council elections are about deciding how our social care services are delivered, how our schools function, how our parks and green spaces are maintained, how we treat our homeless people.

“We want people to vote Green to create vibrant local economies, to protect our public services, and to put power back in people’s hands.”

Commenting on Beamish’s remarks, a spokesman for the Greens said: “The successes of the Scottish Greens are clearly touching a nerve with Labour.

“Turning a council budgets cut into a real-terms increase with a £160m concession from the Government shows the positive influence Greens have, while others sit empty handed after 10 years of opposition. Politics is measured by what you achieve, not what you posture about, but Labour only seem to have posturing left. We’re looking forward to the election of a record number of Green councillors while Labour continue their downward spiral.”

Meanwhile, both Labour and the Tories have written to Green MSPs urging them to reject a second independence referendum.

Beamish said staying in the UK “is good for Scotland’s economy, our environment and our public services”, while Tory MSP Annie Wells, who has written to all of the party’s MSPs, said: “Patrick Harvie could not have been clearer at last year’s election. He said the case for a second referendum should be driven not by party political advantage but by the will of the people.

“The will of the people is that there shouldn’t be a second referendum.

“The Scottish Greens have already done the SNP’s bidding by nodding through their Budget. They now appear to be about to break their own pledge to voters in order to back the SNP’s unwanted independence referendum.

“Patrick Harvie has the chance this weekend to show the Scottish Greens are an independent party which can be trusted on their word.

“Or he can show that the Scottish Greens are prepared to ditch their own beliefs in order to play out their role as SNP lap dogs.”