SCOTLAND has a new Parliament, a new mandate for independence and a new team of Scottish ministers taking up their offices in St Andrews House.

But while readers of The National will most likely already agree that Scotland’s path to independence is all about giving us the power we need to take on the challenges our country and our world face, those challenges are undoubtedly far greater than ever before. The new government will need to show boldness and creativity with the powers we have now, but must also renew and refresh the case for independence to show its urgency and relevance to the 2020s.

The Tories are eagerly reminding everyone that every political party committed to prioritise the recovery from Covid. And to be sure, an immense task lies ahead of us in helping our communities and our economy recover. But it was the parties which stagnated or declined in the election which claimed that we must choose independence or recovery. While relatively few seats changed hands overall, it was the parties which offered independence for recovery which were rewarded by the electorate.

So the attempt to block the appointment of a Constitution Secretary showed contempt for the election result. But even aside from the independence cause, this is an important job in government at a time when the UK itself is intent on generating constitutional crises.

The UK Government is increasingly bypassing Holyrood to act in devolved matters and it the biggest barrier to any kind of meaningful Joint Ministerial Committees to resolve conflicts.

So we need a Constitution Secretary more than ever and Angus Robertson will need to work across party lines, not just to achieve a referendum but also to develop an inclusive vision for independence as a path to a more equal and sustainable economy.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry calls on Nicola Sturgeon not to delay new independence case

While there are familiar faces in the new Cabinet, some of the new ones are interesting. In many ways Mairi Gougeon is the most interesting appointment, mainly because she succeeds a minister from the right of the SNP who enjoyed a cosy relationship with large scale landowners, the bloodsports industry, and industrial fish farmers, to a point where he promised them he would “deal with their detractors”.

In Parliament’s environment committee last term, Fergus Ewing said he would “take no lessons” from the Climate Change Committee on the Scottish Government’s lack of progress.

So new energy in rural affairs is most welcome. Let’s hope it will come with new thinking when it comes to how much of Scotland is set aside for blood sports – and how farmers are supported to cut emissions.

The biggest signal of change in response to the climate emergency is the creation of a Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport. This job goes to the man who was already responsible for transport policy, and who took a similar approach to the UK Government in allocating huge chunks of his budget into road expansions. Transport is one of the main reasons Scotland misses its targets on climate emissions.

So, while the new title recognises that energy and transport policy are deeply linked to reducing Scotland’s emissions, Mr Matheson must quickly come to terms with what he’s been getting wrong, and demonstrate how the Government intends to change direction on the issues he’s already been responsible for.

It remains unclear where immigration sits in the new ministerial team. Though immigration is reserved, we have seen the sharp end of the institutionally racist Home Office in recent months and we need to think collectively about how we support those who want to make Scotland their home, especially those who have fled war and persecution.

We saw asylum seekers crammed into unsafe conditions in hotels, initially described as temporary accommodation during lockdown, though some of them are still there. As restrictions have eased we’ve seen the cruel practice of dawn raids return, evicting families from their homes at short notice and placing them in detention centres.

There have been disgraceful attempts to draw a false equivalence between the solidarity shown in Kenmure Street to prevent human rights violations by the Home Office, and the crowds of thugs taking to the streets of Glasgow unleashing violence and vandalism simply because their football team won a trophy.The argument that Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate between crowds of protestors and football fans misses the point entirely. One of those was a peaceful protest motivated out of compassion and a desire to protect vulnerable people, while the other was selfish, wanton and destructive.

There is more the Scottish Government can do to mitigate and resist the cruelty shown by the UK Government towards vulnerable people, and to support the communities which are resisting authoritarian action by the Home Office.

A new parliament and a new government bring an opportunity to do things differently. Let’s work with renewed energy in tackling the challenges faced by Scotland and our most marginalised communities. That work will be at its most successful if it is done across party lines, with openness and creativity. As always, the Scottish Greens are ready to play our part.