The parties are bound by a shared belief in Scottish independence, and the deal reinforces their intent to secure a second referendum. But they are each free to develop their own vision of independence because they have different perspectives on what an independent Scotland would look like
The negotiations focused on what the parties had in common, meaning the SNP hasn’t given too much away. Ultimately, the nature of this agreement means the parties maintain distance on fundamental issues like taxation and the meaning of a strong economy.
Many of the pledges are also extremely vague, like the promise to review the climate impact of new road-building projects. Non-binding terms like “working towards” and “consultation” are prolific. On oil and gas extraction, there is a commitment to review policy and to transition away from fossil fuels, but the SNP appears wary about the pace of change and offending the business sector. This all points to a cautious approach and the SNP being firmly in control.
But having governed for over a decade, a deal with the Greens suggests the SNP is open to new ideas. As well as making it easier to pass legislation through parliament, the deal with the Greens also has the potential to refresh the SNP’s image and enhance its environmental credentials in the run-up to COP26.
The risks are higher for the Greens than they are for the SNP. Voters are likely to see any failure of government as Green failure too. And with only two ministers, their ability to effect meaningful change is limited. They may find themselves carrying the can for any mistakes without ever having been in a position to take a different path.