A curious experiment is under way in Scotland. The Greens are going into government. It’s a coalition. But not quite a coalition. The SNP and Greens are calling it a co-operation agreement.
The news hasn’t made huge ripples beyond Scotland. Given all that is going on elsewhere, this is understandable. But it marks a significant change. It’s the first time the Greens have been in government anywhere in Britain. They’ll have several junior cabinet posts and the Greens’ Scottish co-leaders will join full cabinet meetings a couple of times a year.
The why isn’t absolutely clear. The SNP won 64 seats during the May election. It’s one short of an overall majority at Holyrood, but they could have governed as a minority administration without too much difficulty.
Both sides are making positive noises about the positive outcomes the co-operation government can deliver. They say, for instance, that 10 per cent of the entire transport budget will be given over to promote walking and cycling. They promise they’ll deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. They’re making the right noises about renewable energy and decarbonisation.
Some observers have suggested that the Greens are convenient political shields for the SNPPaul McNameePaul McNamee
The question remains, though – wouldn’t the SNP government have done these things anyway? Decent homebuilding initiatives are not the preserve of the Greens.
The answer, at present, is not clear.