IT would be “madness”, according to Humza Yousaf, for an incoming SNP leader to “tear up” their deal with the Greens. This is on grounds of ensuring a Holyrood majority, rather than saving the planet.

Policies which flow from the grandly named Bute House Agreement did not feature in Mr Yousaf’s calculation, far less their impacts on people’s lives. These are collateral damage to the over-riding imperative of making the voting numbers stack up.

From where I write in the Western Isles, this is a political game with dire consequences. The Greens polled fewer than six per cent but are driving a policy which is threatening, quite literally, to wipe out the fishing and processing industries which sustain hundreds of livelihoods and keep people in these islands.

If you are reading this in Glasgow’s west end, you might think that is all a long way off. Think again, especially if you appreciate west coast seafood since you won’t be getting any for much longer if prickly Patrick and his saintly soulmates have their way.

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I will return to Highly Protected Marine Areas, the source of this latest horror show, but let’s put it in a context which is of minimal concern to the architects of these policies. Scotland’s periphery is slowly haemorrhaging people and the Scottish Government appears to give not a toss.

A recent report by the Western Isles Health Board spelt out a practical implication: “Working age population is set to decrease by six per cent by 2028 and in contrast the over-75s to rise by 25 per cent. The population changes will result in a year-on-year reduction in the available workforce to nurse, care and attend to the most vulnerable people whose numbers are increasing year on year.”

That picture is recognisable throughout rural and not-so-rural Scotland – too few of working age to maintain services on which an ageing population depends. In islands, it is more measurable and any Scottish government which respected culture, diversity and basic social rights, would go out its way to counter these trends.

The opposite is the case. On every front, Edinburgh’s neglect and indifference are making it as difficult as possible for people to earn livelihoods which keep them in these places. The last straw is to throw Green sanctimony into the mix to make things worse.

Let me digress to provide an update on the Highlands and Island Airports dispute which I wrote about last week. Shortly afterwards, the Western Isles Health Board said the impending cancellation of flights between Inverness and Stornoway would cost 500 hospital appointments, through patients being unable to get out and consultants to get in.

Roughly treble that number by including Orkney and Shetland. Then double it again to take account of cancellations due to industrial action which has been going on for months. Then start counting the impact on people like offshore workers who keep their family homes on the islands and travel to the North Sea or, increasingly, four corners of the earth. And so on.

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As I predicted, events moved quickly. For five months, HIAL said their hands were tied by the Scottish Government not allowing them to go beyond a five per cent pay offer. Ministers refused to become involved. Then within 24 hours of Loganair upping the ante by threatening to withdraw services for an initial six weeks, the Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, licensed HIAL to increase the offer.

The inescapable logic is that a Minister with a shred of interest in the damage being done could have made the same intervention weeks or months earlier. Only Loganair’s threat of dramatic escalation produced a response. That is an indefensible way to treat vulnerable communities, hospital patients or anyone else. Every cancelled appointment can be laid at the door of that Ministerial failure.

One of the SNP’s internal critics wrote last week about their MSPs having been treated like “children in a creche” by the authoritarian leadership. The problem is that some of them were taken out of the creche to be designated as Ministers with nominal responsibility for serious matters. Transport has become a good example of what happens next.

The ferries debacle goes from bad to worse, as is well chronicled in these pages. You might think the monumental failure on that front should have led someone within the Scottish Government to ensure at least they would go out their way to keep lifeline planes flying. For five months, not even that degree of co-ordination or consideration has existed.

But back to marine life, or lack of it if the Greens get their way. As the full implications of Highly Protected Marine Areas begin to penetrate, even the most placid Hebrideans are shaking their heads in disbelief. They have successfully overcome Brexit but this is a far more serious threat.

Over vast areas of our inshore waters, no economic activity whatsoever would be permitted – fishing of any sort, commercial or recreational; aquaculture including shellfish growing; seaweed gathering … the list goes on and on. Banned. Banned. Banned.

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This madness stems from adoption, as part of the agreement between SNP and Greens, of a commitment that “at least ten per cent” of Scotland’s inshore waters will be designated as HPMAs. The possibility that communities which have preserved their own waters for centuries might be entrusted to continue doing so does not arise.

The basis of these designations is challenged by people whose livelihoods would be wiped out but they are already fighting a rearguard action. The branch of the Scottish Government known as Marine Scotland and the quango NatureScot (which adults still call Scottish Natural Heritage) have been busily engaged on drawing up charts which would get them to “at least ten per cent”.

But that’s not the figure which bothers Humza the Hopeless. So long as he can count to 65 at Holyrood, all is well in the world he seeks to inherit. The fact people are trying to live at its edges is their problem, and certainly not his.