In a letter published in the Scotsman yesterday, Patrick Harvie set out his definitive explanation of the approach he and Robin Harper took to the budget process. As I stated in an earlier post, I have no problem with the Greens' 'no' vote at the second time of asking, and indeed feel that for them to have voted any other way at that stage would have been illogical. But the letter is primarily concerned with the crucial first vote (or the vote that seemed crucial at the time) when the Greens held the balance. Harvie offers a biting analysis of why he felt the package he was offered was inadequate - but in a sense that's an answer to the wrong question. What he has failed to convincingly explain is how his original 'no' vote has left the Greens in any better position now than they would have been with a 'yes' vote or an abstention.
For we all know that the opposite is in fact the case - the £22 million insulation package originally offered by John Swinney has now been watered down to £15 million. Whatever his understandable frustrations with the negotiations process, Harvie will surely eventually come to reflect that letting his irritation get the better of him at a pivotal moment was not smart politics.