YOU have to admit it. It’s box office. The man who almost delivers independence for Scotland passes the torch to his female protege. He can’t deal with playing second (or third, or fourth) fiddle so he starts interfering and questioning whether she’s up to it. She starts to see him as a threat to her leadership, and the relationship turns sour. Then, boom, enter sex allegations, a criminal trial, which clears him of all charges, and inquiries where the narrative is him against her.

And then, against the backdrop of another election and the prospect of a second independence referendum in which she will have the chance to do what he couldn’t, to deliver independence, he starts his own new party aimed at taking the list votes which he says are wasted on her.

It’s genuinely worthy of an intervention by Netflix, and it is, by some distance, the most interesting series of events that the Scottish Parliament has seen in its rather mundane and underwhelming first couple of decades.

However, putting personalities and the backstory to one side, the creation of the Alba Party is worth considering on its principles and merit, for it may in time show us the way forward for Holyrood.

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We have rather a bad habit, in this country, of self-righteousness and exceptionalism. We tend to think that, if it’s happening here, then it must be right. A seldom discussed but corrosive manifestation of that is the belief that our Parliament functions normally. It does not, and it is hindering our progress as a nation on a range of fronts. Our proportionally represented parliament at Holyrood is, rather sadly, yet to mature into the proportional parliament in the European mould which many envisaged.

The historic mistake behind this was to transplant the parties of Westminster, elected by First Past the Post, into Holyrood, elected by the Additional Member System. The population was conditioned into a narrow pattern of voting which suits FPTP, and throughout devolution’s first two decades, Holyrood’s voting patterns have almost precisely replicated those at Westminster.

Other than a few minor flirtations with socialists and, now, Greens, the voting population has not used proportionality to anything like its full effect. If we need proof, we can examine our nearest neighbours in Scandinavia – a place to which we often like to turn, when it suits us.

We have five parties holding seats in Holyrood. In Sweden’s Riksdag, there are nine. Norway’s Stortinget has 10. The Suomen Eduskunta in Finland has 11. And the Danish Folketinget has no fewer than 16.

There are lessons here for us as voters. Alex Salmond, the man referred to in my opening paragraph, is undeniably correct in his assessment that those people voting for the Scottish National Party on the list are ‘wasting’ their vote. Indeed they are. The set up of the AMS means that any party with such strength in the constituency vote is effectively prevented from winning seats through the list vote. If voters understood that, and took their votes elsewhere, we may have many more parties represented in the Parliament, and nationalism would not be so dominated by a single party.

However, we cannot very well blame the voters when it is the politicians who set the tone.

The SNP, perhaps, need no lessons, given their remarkable success over the last 14 years. However, the failure of the other parties to capitalise on the opportunities the electoral system provides – in other words taking control of government departments and effecting major policy change through them – is curious indeed.

Take the Greens as an example; the party which has most obviously had this opportunity since the SNP came to power in 2007. The Greens could have been part of either a formal coalition, or been given Ministerial posts in exchange for confidence in and supply of the 2007 Salmond government.

In the most recent Parliament, had the Greens demanded the role of, say, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in exchange for voting through government budgets, Nicola Sturgeon would have had little choice but to say yes.

Much could have been achieved. Instead of the Green party’s relentless focus on socialism and on issues which frankly have very little to do with the environment, Scotland might have become, for example, a world-leading electric vehicle powerhouse.

The truth, on the contrary, is that the SNP privately sees the Greens as supplicants who have failed to use their position to maximum advantage.

Elsewhere in Europe, including in Finland and Sweden, the Greens coalesce with governments of the left and achieve great things. Indeed, in Ireland and Austria, and potentially later this year in Germany, there is a rise of the so-called ‘Congreen’ phenomenon, where conservatives and environmentalists finally find their common ground and enter into government together. That would be unthinkable in Scotland.

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However the Greens, at least, are a Scottish party for a Scottish parliament, with a proven record of taking a good chunk of the SNP’s constituency votes and translating that into a regular return. The same cannot be said for the unionist parties, which have failed utterly to adapt their unionism by creating pro-UK Scottish-only parties which are capable of attracting significant support.

The Tories, the primary offenders, are a European outlier; by far the continent’s weakest centre-right party, and the only one which has no prospect of being in government. We lazily regard Scandinavia as being left-wing, but the centre-right is currently in government in Norway, has been in government in Sweden, Finland and Denmark for roughly half of this century, and even in opposition centre-right parties hold around half of the seats in their legislatures. The Tories’ high water mark of 31 seats in the last election represents less than one-quarter of those available at Holyrood.

The independence question, of course, infects all of this and polarises voters to the degree that a flowering of new parties becomes more difficult. But if we are to progress as a country, to make good law, to create good public services, to harness our resources and offer the best possible life to our children, at some point we are going to need to create a set of political parties which can use the electoral system in the way it was intended.

Perhaps that will start with Alba.

• Andy Maciver is Director of Message Matters.