YOUR first reaction on reading Andrew Neil’s Daily Mail column about the SNP/Green coalition deal was: If only it were true. Mr Neil had dismissed the Greens as “Eco-zealot Marxists”. HM Mail, in trademark style, lifted the phrase into its heading and attached a 140pt megaphone to it. The Scottish Greens though, are about as Marxist as Jeremy Clarkson.

Social media’s student Rimbeaus all assembled to feast on the phrase and use it to proclaim their left-wing credentials. To do this properly requires wit and style, attributes which don’t sit easily in the Scottish cultural elite’s quotidian cycle of preening virtue and braying sanctimony. Unlike many of Mr Neil’s detractors on social media he actually is what he appears to be: right-wing, Unionist and pro-capital.

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Notwithstanding such instincts, his long media career is characterised by a progressiveness that Scotland’s boutique rebels talk about but rarely practice. When he was appointed the youngest-ever editor of the Sunday Times he immediately set about dismantling the stupefying influence of Eton and Oxbridge on the paper and began to recruit women and people of colour into key positions. This was at a time when both of these groups were invisible to the British media. This isn’t to defend Mr Neil, who’s perfectly capable of doing that himself; merely to contrast his political integrity with the Scottish Government’s approximation of such.

In recent days, supporters of this artisan coalition of the SNP and Greens have been issuing us with proclamations about it. We’re told the co-operation deal is “radical”, “progressive”, “enlightened” and “transformative”, these being the terms, uttered breathlessly, which have come to define left-wing politics in Scotland. Thus, empathy and unctuousness have replaced social action and direct intervention, the agencies that are truly required to alter the imbalances of class which continue to disfigure Scottish society.

Perversely, the people who live in those communities who remain marginalised and impoverished after 21 years of so-called left-wing government now find themselves being made to feel impostors. The proposed hate crime legislation and gender reforms are the weapons with which Scotland’s political and cultural gentry seek to portray working-class people as ignorant and brutish. “You won’t get any ice cream until you learn to say things properly.”

The new co-operation deal was garlanded by the announcement that Nicola Sturgeon is to pledge £1 billion “to make the NHS stronger”. Few can argue with the Scottish Government’s commitment to the NHS. It currently devotes more than a third of Scotland’s entire budget to it. But, as one senior health professional told me last week, this is a recovery plan with no strategy.

Yet, if the Greens could persuade their new ministerial colleagues to make good on commitments to protect Scotland’s marine environment from the predatory dredging of TrawlerCorp, or halt the piecemeal auction of land around Loch Lomond their time in government might be worthwhile. Thus far though, their chief concern appears to be the proposed issuing of licences in the Cambo oil-field off Shetland. If they really were as Marxist as their camp followers in the media claim they’d be making a case for taking the means of production in Scotland’s asset-rich energy sector into public ownership and negotiating the best deal possible with the oil corporations. They’d be seeking also to ensure that transitions to sustainable energy don’t come at the expense of jobs and decent wages.

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If they were Socialists let alone Marxists they might be asking why Nicola Sturgeon insists on a Praetorian Guard drawn from global capital as her business advisory executive. And why Scotland’s drug and alcohol addiction strategy favours pouring money into PR strategies and academic funding while marginalising groups run by people with lived experience in this field. Or why there can be no debate about future entry into the EU, the rich-people’s self-preservation society. Why are we not using the significant powers we already own to mitigate the UK Tories’ social security cuts? Why are rent controls being delayed and tenants’ protections now ending? Why are Scotland’s millionaires not being taxed a little more? Where are the Covid windfall duties?

Manifesto pledges around Covid recovery such as providing more affordable homes; “improving” the NHS and reducing carbon emissions are worthless without an industrial strategy that will lift Scotland’s poorest communities out of poverty. Rather than choosing to sup with the titans of Big Capital, for whom profit must always come before people, the Scottish Government should be forging closer links with the Unions.

In recent months, there have been encouraging developments in the trade union movement. Last week’s election of Sharon Graham as General Secretary of Unite follows the elevation of Edinburgh’s Gary Smith as the chief of the GMB union. Both of them are eloquent and formidable negotiators for jobs and workers’ rights and neither is beholden to the machinations of Britain’s establishment left.

They were elected to these positions because the next big battle after Covid won’t be independence, but the struggle with class-driven capitalism to ensure that recovery isn’t driven from above. They are "lived-experience" Socialists and not the boutique flanneurs who think that being radical is to have "Eco-Zealot Marxist" printed on their tee-shirts and their Twitter profiles. At the start of the pandemic the first to be tossed overboard from multi-billion-pound enterprises were the weakest and lowest-paid. As we emerge from lockdown those who survived the first cull will be in capitalism’s cross-hairs again.

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Yet, the Scottish Government’s attitude to the Unions has never been more disdainful. It’s encapsulated in Glasgow Council leader Susan Aitken’s hostility towards them over the threat of closure facing many community hubs in our neediest neighbourhoods. It was evident too in ministers’ bad faith during their chaotic attempts, not only to save the Bifab yard at Burntisland but in its entire renewables strategy. This has seen a paltry number of jobs created in a sector we fondly imagined we were set to dominate.

There is no prospect of independence any time soon under a coalition which has binged on the civic folderols that come with devolved power. But will they commit to direct intervention, rather than elaborate pledging, in those communities which face the biggest challenges?

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.