This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

The Scottish Greens have never had it better.

The party run by Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater saw its highest number of MSPs elected to Holyrood in 2021 – giving it enough weight to formally enter government for the first time.

Maybe it was to sure up a Holyrood majority for Nicola Sturgeon as part of her grand plan for independence – or maybe, as the former first minister insisted, the SNP and Greens share values that make co-operation an easy fit.

The Greens entering government is a remarkable achievement – but now as the SNP continues to endure a torrid time, with some in the party pointing the finger at their partners in government. That is the easy option – a complete cop-out.

When Ms Sturgeon opened up her government to two members of a rival party, she handed out two ministerial roles to Ms Slater and Mr Harvie.

But these roles are two of the most difficult and unrewarding jobs going in the Scottish Government.

Ms Slater has received a lot of criticism for the dismal outlook of the Scottish Government’s deposit return scheme – despite the UK Government in part responsible for the mess for refusing to grant an exemption for glass under the post-Brexit internal market rules for a fully devolved policy.

Since Ms Slater came into government, the deposit return scheme has faced an almighty backlash from businesses, while former SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes used the concerns to launch her failed leadership bid.

Ms Forbes was a serving minister at the time of her intervention, ramping up the pressure on Ms Slater.

But the mess surrounding the deposit return scheme pre-dated Ms Slater’s time as an MSP. Former SNP environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham issued the first delay to the scheme when Covid hit – but it is evident that very little of the preparations or planning for when the recycling scheme finally did roll out were really made until Ms Slater entered office.

Mr Harvie has the unenviable task of cleaning up how Scotland heats buildings – with a tiny fraction of the funding needed made available to him. The rest is due to come from the private sector – but time is running out to clean up the heating systems of tenement flats.

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Given both Edinburgh and Glasgow have pledged to become net zero cities by 2030, this strategy seemed doomed before it had started.

Mr Harvie has previously admitted that work should have started decades ago to clean up housing, as has been the case in parts of mainland Europe.

So it is little surprise that measures including ridding homes with gas boilers needs to be accelerated.

The Greens have also been blamed for the U-turn over initial proposals to designate 10% of Scottish waters as highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), essentially banning fishing – a policy making up part of the Bute House Agreement.

This despite SNP ministers including Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan standing in full support of the policy, before announcing her screeching U-turn.

Now some SNP backbenchers are calling for the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Greens to be destroyed and Humza Yousaf’s party to go it alone as a minority government.

The Herald:

This is unlikely to be happy and many in the SNP, disgruntled at the fortunes of the Scottish Government, appear to be using the Greens as a convenient scapegoat for the party’s troubles.

The SNP plummeting in the polls has little to do with the Scottish Greens carrying out their dirty work and being the face of the most trickly environmental policies going.

The Greens are not responsible for the ferries crisis, the mess the NHS finds itself in and absolutely nothing to do with the finances probe the SNP is still facing.

Sir John Curtice has today pointed out that support for the Scottish Greens has increased since the party joined government – rubbishing claims the party is dragging down support for the SNP.

The polling expert highlighted a correlation to the demise of support for the SNP and Mr Yousaf taking over the keys to Bute House.

Some of the old guard in the SNP are now out of favour with the current leadership – split over major policies such as the gender recognition reforms and some of the key and ambitious environmental policies.

But pinning these on the Greens will do nothing to help the SNP recover, particularly if the Greens continue to see a surge in support.

If the SNP wants to get back to anywhere close to the levels of support it has enjoyed for more than a decade, it cannot point the finger anywhere other than itself.  

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