ANYONE who tells you they know how the next Scottish Parliament is going to look is simply lying to you.

The past few months in Scottish politics have presented a level of uncertainty that hasn’t been seen in years, with SNP popularity plummeting since Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation (and all the turmoil that followed).

For the first time in my adult life, polls are suggesting a Scottish Government could exist in 2026 that doesn’t include the SNP.

Our political system in Scotland is designed to encourage co-operation. Our more proportional electoral systems make parliamentary majorities extremely unlikely, instead forcing parties which may disagree on some things to come together to find commonality and to achieve a better quality of politics than the more aggressive, confrontational Westminster system.

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It’s the reason why throughout the entire devolution era only the 2011 Scottish Parliament election resulted in a majority for any single party. Other elections have resulted in minority SNP governments seeking support from other parties on an issue-by-issue basis (2007 and 2016), Labour/LibDem coalitions (1999 and 2003) and the current co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens in which the Greens are part of the government but continue to provide opposition on a pre-agreed list of issues.

Polling can often be taken with a pinch of salt – especially this far out from an election – but what’s clear is that the 2026 election really is all to play for.

What does seem to be incredibly clear from recent polling is that voters are very happy with the Scottish Greens in government. Virtually every single poll since the Bute House Agreement was signed has had support for the Greens higher than the 2021 result, with the party consistently polling at between 10-18 MSPs, compared to the current seven.

Despite this, a number of polls have projected that the SNP-Green government would lose its Holyrood majority in 2026 due to a sharp decline in SNP votes. The SNP would still almost certainly remain the largest party but with not enough MSPs between them and the Greens to form a government.

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So what would happen?

City of Edinburgh Council might provide us with some insight, as it was in a similar situation following last year’s elections.

The SNP and Greens were just short of a majority, with 29 of the 63 available seats, and although they worked together to present a progressive coalition for Edinburgh, Labour opted to strike a deal with the Tories and LibDems and formed a minority Labour administration.

It’s a deeply unfortunate and completely avoidable situation that has regrettably left City of Edinburgh Council in an utter shambles – the Labour administration was responsible for implementing a LibDem budget that they confessed to not having even read before they voted for it.

The scenes in Edinburgh have just been utterly appalling – so much so that two of the councillors elected as Labour now sit as Independents following their opposition to the deal. Numerous current and former Labour politicians have condemned the scenes in Edinburgh and for the party to repeat the same mistakes nationally in Holyrood would be deeply foolish and potentially unrecoverable from. Our politics has been defined for as long as I can remember along constitutional lines, and it feels like that has reached a peak in recent years.

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Following last year’s council elections, only two local authorities formed administrations which defied constitutional alliances, with the LibDems and SNP forming a partnership in Aberdeen, and the SNP and Labour briefly working together in Dumfries and Galloway until Labour terminated the agreement, letting the Tories into power.

It’s a remarkably unhealthy way of doing politics and it’s time for it to end.

The matter of independence is one which so many of us feel deeply passionately about but it’s time we all – on all sides of the debate – put an end to the poisonous rhetoric that’s preventing our councils and our Parliament from being able to deliver the best outcomes for the Scottish people.

If the SNP and Greens don’t achieve a majority in 2026, it’s clear that co-operation across constitutional lines is going to be essential to ensure a progressive government and to keep the Tories from even the slightest hint of power.

The SNP and Labour should be natural bedfellows. They’re both social democratic parties on paper but with a fairly broad tent of views among their members, ranging from left-wingers and socialists to right-wing conservatives such as Fergus Ewing and Keir Starmer.

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Of course, the parties have differences which they’d need to put aside or find compromises on – the constitution being one of those.

But as I’ve written before, the issue with Labour among so many independence supporters is not their opposition to independence (which is a perfectly respectable position to hold, even if it’s one I disagree with) but their opposition to democracy and allowing the electorate to have our say in a referendum.

As a Green, naturally my preferred outcome of any election would be a Green majority government but failing that I would always want to see the most progressive government possible with the electoral calculus available.

I’d argue that’s what we probably have right now with the Bute House Agreement but if the SNP don’t recover from their polling slump and that arrangement can’t continue, then a SNP/Labour/Green deal would clearly be more progressive than any other realistic option.

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A week is a long time in politics, so the three years we’ve got between now and 2026 is an age. In that time there’s a huge opportunity for Scottish Labour to distance themselves from the more right-wing UK Labour Party, to put forward a truly progressive agenda for Scotland and to work with the SNP and Greens constructively to help implement it.

Equally, the SNP and Greens need to be open to positive, constructive engagement from Labour and to work with them where they can, even when they might not otherwise need to.

All three parties could easily fall into the trap of looking only at the short-term and the current parliamentary session and dismissing opportunities to work together.

But if we want any guarantee of a progressive government after 2026, all three parties need to start working together now while they still have the choice.