UK politics is in crisis.

Yes I know, it’s an understatement. I struggle, you see, to find words to describe the scale of this mess. Crisis? Chaos? They don’t seem strong enough. Omnishambles? That was just the pasty tax for goodness sake.

With Boris Johnson beginning his premiership with four successive defeats in the Commons – as many as Thatcher lost in her entire 11 long years in control – he presides over a government with no control, sitting in a parliament with no clarity in a democratic system with not an ounce of credibility.

But more than just pointing out the dysfunction in the UK political landscape, we need to be conscious of how this situation has been engineered, and how increasingly extreme ideas have been normalised, step by step.

Only a little over three years ago Brexit, like Trump’s election, was the nightmare scenario most people thought would never happen. No Deal was confined to the extremist fringes of the ERG. Now it’s front and centre. The idea that this would be the pretext for an assault on the Scottish Parliament’s powers was, we were told, an unhinged conspiracy theory. The proposal to shut down the UK Parliament to avoid accountability was laughed down the first time it was suggested. Now each of these has already happened.

And while the Tories and the right-wing press scoffed at the idea of a Johnson/Farage takeover, they pointed accusing fingers at Corbyn’s Labour for merely considering reselection ballots for MPs, which they painted as some kind of Stalinist outrage. Now, the Tories have themselves ruthlessly purged their few remaining rational MPs, and the way is being paved for a pact with the Brexit Party, amounting to the Tories’ rebirth as an explicitly far-right government.

This is how authoritarianism announces itself. Not with a fanfare, but with the gradual whispered normalisation of ever more extreme ideas.

READ MORE: SNP urged to act as Partick Harvie launches Scottish Green New Deal

There are lessons for an independent Scotland in all this. Firstly, that it’s needed! But also that without a written constitution, a representative electoral system and freedom from unelected privilege and cronyism, authoritarianism can take root anywhere.

At least in Scotland, we do have a functioning domestic parliament, which this week saw the First Minister lay out her plans for the next year to 18 months of government. She clearly saw something worth copying in the launch of our Scottish Green New Deal a week earlier, and imitation is of course the sincerest form of flattery.

The National:

But while Nicola Sturgeon’s programme does recognise the transformational change of direction that’s needed, the detail of what’s proposed falls short of the ambition, scale and courage required to tackle inequality and the climate emergency.

The original New Deal that Roosevelt used to transform the US economy and the bold Green New Deal currently proposed by progressive US democrats use the powers of the state to create a huge economic and industrial shift. Scotland isn’t in the same starting point, and doesn’t yet have the full powers of an independent state. But if we’re to recognise that a free market can’t meet the challenges of our age and an interventionist state is needed, our starting point only makes it more urgent that we rebuild the power of the public sector from the bottom up.

Nicola Sturgeon’s programme for government tinkers with our failed economic system, places faith in consumer choice and unproven future technology, and still backs maximum extraction of fossil fuels, regardless of the science.

The Scottish Green New Deal that we are developing has a scale and ambition comparable to those we see in America, takes inspiration from our European neighbours and recognises where Scotland is today on our journey to independence.

READ MORE: Scottish Green New Deal has public ownership at its heart

This means developing public and community ownership in areas like land, energy, housing and finance, instead of seeing public ownership merely as a safety net in the event of market failure. It means putting the full weight of this renewed public sector behind efforts to tackle the climate emergency and create high-quality, unionised jobs.

Dramatic public-led investment in a large scale retrofit programme would transform homes into warm, affordable places to live, with renewable district heating replacing the gas grid and allowing us to cut both production and consumption of fossil fuels at the same time.

We propose increasing Scotland’s forest cover to 40%, to meet the European average. Far better than leaving a fifth of our land as grouse moor.

To make these kinds of changes to our economy, and more, will require the ambition that is still lacking from the Scottish Government’s plans.

It’s months since the words “climate emergency” were spoken. Scotland now needs an emergency response; a Scottish Green New Deal which shows purpose, scale and bravery. Building a better future requires us to be bolder.