Intriguing element, confidence. It is the core of every political party’s pitch: put your trust in us. More, it is the foundation of the SNP’s independence offer. Let Scotland gain the confidence to detach from the Union. As ever, though, there is an element of flight in both these propositions. Political parties say: heed us, shun these other charlatans.

And the SNP, partly, predicates its proposal upon escape: from Westminster, from the UK. Now the issue of confidence is to the fore in a developing crisis over our devolved governance. The Conservatives want MSPs to decide whether they still have confidence in Humza Yousaf. That could oblige the FM to consider his position. As Opposition parties goad each other, seeking to trump their rivals in condemnation of the SNP, Labour has prepared a motion of no confidence in the entire Scottish Government.

Under Holyrood’s rules, that could go further still. If successful, it could ultimately lead to an early Holyrood election – well ahead of the poll scheduled for 2026.

At the same time, two other questions arise. Set aside MSPs. Do the public have confidence in the FM? And does he still maintain confidence in himself, in his own ability? I posit that latter question because I think Humza Yousaf is torn.

The Herald: Patrick Harvie, Humza Yousaf, and Lorna SlaterPatrick Harvie, Humza Yousaf, and Lorna Slater (Image: free)

He knows – or, rather, he knew – that the Bute House Agreement with the Greens afforded a substantial degree of stability for the elected SNP government. It brought protection from confidence motions. And it dealt with supply – that is, money, funding for public services – in that it enabled the annual Budget to be endorsed. The FM knew that. And yet it was not his deal. The agreement was reached by his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon. He inherited it, along with endeavours to address the climate emergency, as declared by Ms Sturgeon, and items such as the gender reform legislation.

That is not to say that he was hostile to these elements in the governing programme. But they are not his. They do not enable him to project his own leadership and his own initiatives.

It was fascinating that the FM opened his Bute House news conference ending the pact by referring to the portraits of Scotland’s First Ministers on the walls of the grandiose mansion. He seemed to be saying: I am part of that collection. I can claim my place. I am the leader. I have status in my own right.

And so, as leader, he exercised power. He showed who was in charge by abruptly ending the pact with the Greens – and, in so doing, excluding them from Ministerial office.

I understand his motivation. He thought that the pact was unravelling anyway. He disliked the notion of waiting weeks while Green Party members made up their minds as to whether to maintain the agreement. That seemed weak. Uncertain. Lacking self-confidence. Not like a leader.

Insiders suggest to me that there was the prospect of a no confidence motion in Patrick Harvie of the Greens because of his comments about the Cass Report on gender identity services for young people. They say further that it would have been impossible to get all SNP MSPs to defend Mr Harvie. That further Parliamentary turmoil would have ensued.

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More, it appears that key SNP strategists felt hemmed in by the Bute House Agreement. They wanted to focus more upon economic growth – an issue excluded from the pact – and rather less upon gender politics.

The calculation? That the SNP needs to regain the initiative on issues which matter most to Scots: growth, the NHS, the cost of living. Expect key initiatives on these in the next few days from the FM. There is also the question of relative salience. Both the SNP and the Greens favour independence and climate action. But their priority listing is different.

SNP members get up in the morning to pursue independence. Greens rank that behind the climate. Plus there was talk of the Green tail wagging the SNP dog.

Frankly, some Nationalists find the Greens occasionally irritating: veering from zealous to amicable to smug. All that said, it is a bit rich to hear Nationalists on our airwaves accusing the Greens of “walking away” from Bute House. They were sacked, peremptorily.

I chanced to be broadcasting to an astonished nation when the Green response emerged. They accused the SNP of “an act of political cowardice”, selling out future generation “to appease the most reactionary forces in the country.” By which, they meant the centre right in the SNP.

As I noted at the time, such language is notably vitriolic. Calmer reflection might ensue – but it will be exceptionally difficult to soothe the Greens to the point where they might enable the FM to remain in office.

Again, I understand Mr Yousaf’s motivation. But it might have been better – strategically and arithmetically – to find a way of loosening the ties of the Agreement while sustaining at minimum an informal concordat.

The Herald: Ash Regan is now a powerbrokerAsh Regan is now a powerbroker (Image: free)

Mr Yousaf says he will now seek to work with all other parties. Perhaps as the SNP did after 2007 – when the budget was generally carried with concessions made to Tory negotiators. But that is partly founded on fantasy. The times are different.

Post the independence referendum, parties supporting the Union are even more disinclined to give any succour to the SNP. Which leaves Ash Regan. The leadership contender defeated by Mr Yousaf who has since defected to Alex Salmond’s Alba party. Her support could be crucial in the week ahead.

Contemplate the Yousaf nightmares. One, that Kate Forbes challenges again for the post of First Minister. Two, that he has to cut a deal with Ash Regan.

Will his torment never end? Still, the FM is where he is, partly through circumstance but primarily through his own actions. If he wants to remain in office, he must either offer concessions to Ash Regan or placate the Greens. Or both.

At this point, I think that an early Holyrood election remains relatively unlikely. Relatively. The voters would be unhappy – and might exact revenge upon the Tories, the Greens. And Ash Regan. Other than that, all prospects are possible.

Welcome to the tangled web of Scottish politics.