THE Yes movement had an awkward Yes-No moment this week.

On Monday, the SNP embraced a Treasury-backed £52million plan to create two freeports in Scotland as part of Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda.

The Prime Minister, never one to venture beyond the razor wire and stumble into the public in Scotland, even made a fleeting visit to a secure site at Rosyth to talk up the scheme.

The SNP insist they’re really “green freeports”, contributing to its Fair Work and Net Zero agendas, but they’re essentially the same low-tax, state-subsidised business zones as England gets.

The SNP’s own trade union group were unimpressed, demanding to know what Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was up to, especially as it may be against party policy.

But the biggest headlines were generated by the SNP’s Indy partners in the Scottish Government kicking off. The Greens hate freeports - almost as much as the SNP used to before learning to love the enemy - and they weren’t shy about showing it.

MSP Ross Greer said his side rejected the “corporate giveaway” and berated the SNP for, ugh, “working with the Tories”.

He had a free pass to say it. The joint government deal between the SNP and Greens allows both parties to fly solo on certain issues to avoid irreconcilable differences leading to divorce.

These are listed in an annex of “excluded matters” so everyone knows where they’ve agreed to disagree. Besides “the future of green ports”, it includes how to measure economic growth, Nato membership, subsidising the arms trade, field sports, and legalising sex work.

But Mr Greer’s well-aimed barbs will nevertheless have stung Ms Forbes.

And if helped remind voters, as we head into May’s local elections, that the Greens are no one’s patsies, then I’m pretty sure he can live with that too.

But what it just a skirmish in a far larger - and more hazardous - battle to come?

While free ports may be an acceptable target for the Greens, there is a much more important matter coming up on which both sides are supposed to agree.

This is the long-lost National Strategy for Economic Transformation, which was promised by November, but has delayed because of problems with the text.

After many re-writes, it will cover entrepreneurship, productivity, new markets, skills, inequality and delivery.

This is not an excluded matter, but a central plank of the detailed shared policy programme signed off by the SNP and Greens to “build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland”.

It is meant to be a “bold, ambitious plan to transform the economy”, help hit climate targets, help the environment, “stimulate innovation, create jobs, improve wellbeing for all, and further embed fair work standards across all sectors of the economy”. It will include “a package of transformational projects”.

I understand a final draft has been to the Scottish Cabinet and the public version may finally emerge next month. However it is unlikely to come trailing clouds of harmony when it does. Looking back, it’s probably not surprising.

When Ms Forbes announced last July that she had appointed a 17-member advisory council of business leaders, academics and economists to help shape the strategy, she was wildly optimistic.

They would “bring forward bold ideas that will transform the economy” and “unleash entrepreneurial potential” in just a few months. Magically fathom how to fix entrenched problems in the Scottish economy - such as low productivity, low business start-up rates, access to capital - after a handful of meetings on Teams.

The minutes of the monthly meetings from July to October are fascinating. Even after being encoded in civil service speak, they throb with frustration. From the outset, there were worries about a rush.

There was “concern raised over the tight timescales,” the minutes of the first meeting say. But Ms Forbes saw the bright side, saying it would “help focus minds”.

Time and again, participants demanded greater “clarity” and focus” after officials offered up sprawling draft texts.

In August, when members were told Fair Work and Net Zero were at the heart of the vision, their feedback was blunt.

“The current draft will not transform the economy,” Ms Forbes was told. The aim was “to produce an economic strategy not a Net Zero strategy”. The vision and missions needed “to be more inspirational”. There was also a “need to be clear what the strategy does that we have not had before”.

In October, Nicola Sturgeon sat in for a bit and also stressed “focusing on fewer, more impactful actions”. Members were told to reach “broad agreement on the key actions needed for transforming the Scottish economy” by the end of the day.

Instead, they unloaded at the close of the session, telling Ms Forbes the draft strategy did “not provide the script for delivering transformation change and needs to better reflect the discussions which have taken place at the Council”.

It also needed to be “more bold, powerful, focused and visionary”. Aspects were “difficult to follow and unclear”. There was a “need to make the strategy more hard edged as there is concern that in trying to please everyone you will lose the growth and productivity focus”.

Ms Forbes agreed “substantive work” was needed. Specifically, “a more coherent narrative in the strategy, prioritisation of actions, making connections between the actions and addressing any gaps, and greater clarity on how the delivery work will be undertaken”. Which is quite a lot.

She later told Holyrood in December the strategy was “in a very good place” but had been delayed because of Covid. “While we are in the grip of a new variant, perhaps now is not the right time,” she said. A source close to the strategy told me that was “complete and utter nonsense” and that government officials had been panicking because they knew they had a “dog’s breakfast” on their hands.

Despite going to the bother of having an advisory council, it now seems the strategy will be a fairly conventional, officialdom-driven economic plan, lightly tinted but not actually written by all those experts, and certainly not the radical project the Greens say is needed in the climate crisis.

Trouble looms. Watch this space.