AT the last Scottish local election in 2017, just under half of the 1227 councillors returned represented Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. What, I wonder, did they make of their respective parties at Holyrood after the budget vote on Thursday.

Did they feel pride over the shift their MSPs put in during talks with Finance Secretary Derek Mackay?

Did they cheer and punch the air at a deal that met their local needs?

Did they applaud the tough but necessary compromises that brought a bit more money to communities in these uncertain times?

Or did they just gawp and think, Where the hell were my lot?

Since the draft budget for 2019/20 was published in mid-December, all the Holyrood opposition parties have spoken to Mr Mackay about a deal. But all the Unionist ones failed to engage seriously, asking the SNP for the eye-wateringly expensive, or the eye-rollingly stupid, like abandoning independence.

Labour, who run or help run 13 of our 32 local authorities, got their councillors nothing. The Tories, who run seven authorities, got their councillors nothing. And the LibDems, who run six authorities, got - you guessed it - nothing.

The handful of Green councillors elected two years ago got something very different. I’m not saying everyone was happy - the party seems obliged to disagree with itself - but they would at least have seen their six MSPs in the thick of it.

It was not an easy process. During the final to-ing and fro-ing over numbers and commitments, many Green MSPs seemed genuinely pained, and not just by Ross Greer’s bon mots on Winston Churchill.

Besides the fear of letting their side down by settling too cheaply, there was the weight of being the only non-government party still involved. The others had simply quit the field. The Greens felt that if they didn’t strike a deal, there could be chaos. How would the government react? Would there be an election on top of Brexit? Who would that help?

There was a lot of resentment towards the other parties. Instead of feeling duty-bound to participate, there was tribal intransigence.

As Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said on Thursday, the other parties seemed to have drawn precisely the wrong lesson from the Brexit dysfunction at Westminster and thought, Let’s have some of that.

“I can respect anyone who busts a gut to achieve a change, is unable to, and then votes against the budget - but not even to try?” he said.

“Others seem to think that engineering a crisis would be the best outcome… chaos for the sake of chaos is not what Scotland needs.” It’s a very good point.

Of course, the other parties were not entirely indifferent. Away from Holyrood, their councillors were trying to influence Mr Mackay through the council group Cosla, which backed the Green demands for more money and more powers. It was noteworthy that in Cosla’s response to the budget, both President Allison Evison (Labour) and resources spokesperson Gail Macgregor (Tory) thanked the Greens.

But at Holyrood, MSPs were cynical and complacent, preferring to posture rather than deliver. Mr Harvie’s arguments failed to move them, so how about self-interest?

If you want to be the government, you have to look the part. Slacking off and bitching from the back of the class do not look the part.

Like Mr Harvie says, Labour and the Tories don’t have to vote for an SNP budget at the end of the day, but at least engage. See it as training. Work that intellectual muscle. You can’t go into the 2021 election looking like lightweights and hope the SNP will conveniently lose.

The Tories seem to get it. They had no alternative budget, but there was less knockabout than usual from Murdo Fraser. He was also sharp on the numbers. Like Finance Committee convener Bruce Crawford, he highlighted a scary, technical issue over income tax that could start to bite in 2020/21.

Labour were an embarrassment. With the leadership doing next to nothing, it emerged frontbencher Alex Rowley had sent his personal budget plan to Mr Mackay. When the freelancing operation was discovered, Labour HQ hauled him in, shut him up, and refused to let him speak in Thursday’s debate.

Instead that honour went to James Kelly, whose performance, God willing, is unlikely to be surpassed for the rest of the year.

It wasn’t just the atrocious delivery (face of an angry tortoise, voice of a dazed rook), it was the atrocious content. He railed against councils cuts, but would not say how to avoid them. He was then stumped when asked what Labour had got out of the last three budgets.

He does not look like a future finance secretary, nor help Labour look like a government in waiting.

“We should just send a clip of him round all the business leaders,” one senior SNP source said later, half-joking that would neutralise the Labour threat at the next election.

The current budget approach isn’t helping the SNP’s rivals. It’s a bad habit. If they don’t break it, if they don’t take more responsibility and show more intellectual heft, they shouldn’t expect the respect of voters. MSPs returning empty-handed to council colleagues can’t help party management either.

There will soon be cross-party talks on replacing council tax and reforming local government finance. The people who pay their salaries deserve more from MSPs than lazy partisanship in that exercise.

Holyrood’s new powers are also creating new risks to the budget, like that income tax worry I mentioned. A thoughtful, collective approach to them is needed. MSPs should step up. As Mr Crawford said: “These are challenging times indeed, and we must rise to the challenges on behalf of the Scottish people.”