The SNP-Green coalition has always been a curious beast in the eyes of the detached observer.

On the face of it, the deal seems to represent a confusingly heavy price for a party, the SNP, which after the votes were counted in May 2021 was only one seat away from a majority.

There was no suggestion that the SNP needed the Greens in order to burnish its environmental credentials nor to augment its social policy, and it was, for sure, not so that the SNP could lean on the Greens’ economic outlook.

To understand the deal requires an understanding of the atmosphere in Holyrood towards the end of the last Parliament. Driven by the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of Alex Salmond, Holyrood had become highly polarised; toxic, even. The Scottish Government was losing votes, its Ministers were facing motions of no confidence, and its Budgets were being threatened with defeat.

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So, this was plainly and simply a numbers game. The party’s leaders – Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney – decided no price was too high for stability. In doing so, the party of 64 seats submitted itself to the party of eight seats. To their great credit, Green strategists engineered an extraordinary coup, obtaining two Ministers, two Special Advisers and an effective veto over a swathe of policy.

Now fast forward two years. The SNP is under new management and, for the first time since it came to power in 2007, there is a question mark over the government’s competence. Whether or not this question mark is fair is almost incidental; perception is everything in politics, and the perception is that this is no longer a highly performing administration.

Scotland’s new First Minister, Humza Yousaf, inherited a bugger’s muddle of policy problems. The most public of those was the gender recognition reform bill, followed closely by the deposit return scheme.

They were not alone – as he entered Bute House, the consequences of proposed highly protected marine areas and alcohol advertising regulations were seeping into the general public’s consciousness.

In a variety of different ways, and in a couple of cases as a result of the UK Government’s intervention, Mr Yousaf managed to rather assiduously shelve all of these before they came to fruition.

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However, other new government policies were, and still are, cemented, most relating one way or another to economic growth. There is, for instance, discombobulating uncertainty amongst investors in the North Sea who need, but do not have, a stable and certain investment environment.

There is a tacit presumption against road building, which has caused the SNP a migraine in its heartlands, where they have been waiting decades for the dualling of the A9.

In response to rising prices in the private rental sector, the government reached for rent controls. Ministers were warned that they would fail. As night follows day, landlords with one or two flats making very small profits – which make up the vast majority – are increasingly deciding that rental is not worth the hassle, and are selling.

Institutional investors, looking for build-to-rent opportunities on behalf of pension funds, for instance, are opting for safer returns in England. The government’s intervention has broken the most basic rules of supply and demand, and rents are rising faster than they otherwise would have.

The embryonic proposals for gas boiler replacement is like Highly Protected Marine Areas on steroids. The presumption against blue hydrogen (produced from captured carbon) means that all of the Scottish Government’s eggs are now in the basket of ground source heat pumps which, on cost grounds, will cause an unprecedented public backlash.

And, of course, anyone earning more than £28,000 pays more tax in Scotland than they do in the rest of the UK, for which they, justifiably, see no discernible benefit in public service performance. Indeed, in a Panelbase poll last weekend, only one-in-ten supported the policy, and Scotland’s political centre-ground has been telling pollsters for some time that the SNP has stopped speaking for them.

There are signs that this is now changing. Mr Yousaf has grown into the job of First Minister, not least in the last 10 days during his deft, careful and insightful handling of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and its subsequent response.

And, on matters of the economy, he has quietly but deeply engaged the business community in order to understand what is being experienced outside the political bubble.

In amongst the fog of Mr Yousaf’s first six months, with internal squabbles and the cloud of the police investigation, there may just be a quiet revolution going on, with the SNP reasserting its authority in its relationship with the Greens. The green tail which has been wagging their yellow dog may be being docked.

The junking of highly protected marine areas – something of a Green shibboleth – could be seen as a quiet test of this, but the freezing of council tax, dropped on the Greens just before Mr Yousaf’s speech to SNP conference, was anything but.

Will the Scottish Government now also hit pause on its proposals for a further increase in income tax? Scottish industry is already in fear of brain-drain caused by high taxes, and increasingly by the ‘free’ tuition policy, which is limiting university places for young Scots and forcing them south. Their feelings are now well known to the government.

Will it, either through the removal of the freeze or a new level of capping or some other incentives to invest, attempt to repair its relationship with the private rented sector, creating the conditions for increased supply and therefore calmed rent prices?

Will the SNP, fresh from its announcement of a half-billion investment in the renewables supply chain, seek certainty in the North Sea with a smarter and more effective use of all aspects of energy transition? Will we see something more concrete on the A9, and other trunk roads? Could this be linked to Scotland’s first foray into the international bond market, the other key announcement in Mr Yousaf’s conference speech?

The SNP is not used to losing. They don’t like it. When political parties are skelped, like the SNP was in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, they either blame the voters, or blame themselves. If the SNP is sensible, it will do the latter, and learn the lessons.

Andy Maciver is Founding Director of Message Matters and Zero Matters