A WEEK is a long time in politics, and the past few days have felt like a lifetime for the Scottish Greens, and indeed First Minister Humza Yousaf.

But while the days leading up to the resignation of the First Minister yesterday have been some of the most fast-paced and tumultuous I’ve seen in Scottish politics, I’d argue that Yousaf’s downfall didn’t start last Thursday when he announced the end of the Bute House Agreement (and the end of Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater’s terms as ministers), nor did it start with the scrapping of the Scottish Government’s climate targets less than two weeks ago.

While many might argue that Yousaf’s premiership was doomed from the moment he was elected, I’d suggest that the moment that solidified the real beginning of his political downfall – as well as that of the Bute House Agreement – took place on a Tuesday afternoon in Aberdeen last October, when the First Minister, in a last-ditch attempt to grab the headlines during an underwhelming and under-attended SNP conference, announced that his government would be imposing a Council Tax freeze across Scotland.

The National:

This policy received a thunderous applause from conference delegates – but it quickly emerged that not only had Yousaf failed to pass this policy by his partners in government, the Scottish Greens, in a clear breach of the Bute House Agreement’s “no surprises” clause, but he’d also failed to inform the very local authorities whose democracy he was overruling, in a blatant breach of the Verity House Agreement, the ink on which had barely dried.

I’ve written before about my opposition to the Council Tax freeze, which was widely shared by Scottish Green members. Not only would the freeze decimate public services, the nature of the freeze was also a direct breach of the principle of local democracy, depriving local authorities of the ability to set their own revenue levels.

Imagine if Westminster overruled Holyrood’s tax-raising powers; the SNP would rightly be fuming. The cognitive dissonance on display was through the roof.

For many Scottish Green members, who strongly believe in principles of democracy and decentralisation, it was the last straw. The party explicitly voted to condemn the freeze at our autumn conference – albeit falling short of voting to bind our MSPs into voting against the budget if the freeze was kept, a move our leadership told us would “end the Bute House Agreement”.

The Scottish Budget which followed failed to inspire many Green members, many of whom were outraged by the litany of cuts to public services included within it, much of which could’ve been avoided by scrapping the Council Tax freeze and going further with progressive taxation.

Yousaf’s first Budget, while a challenging one thanks to Westminster austerity, was deeply uninspiring and unambitious. My support for the Bute House Agreement was hanging by a thread. I was angry at my own party for its support of this pretty atrocious Budget, and I was angry at the opposition parties for the lack of any substantive left-wing opposition to it, with Labour’s anti-tax approach clearly swinging at the Government from the right.

The rift between grassroots Scottish Greens members – who, as members of a democratic party, hold binding power over the actions of our elected representatives – and the Scottish Government only continued to widen over the months that followed, and the announcement that the Government would be scrapping its 2030 climate targets was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.

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The package of policies announced to “accelerate climate action” was full of “we will explore” and “we will aim to” guff, and rehashed policies from more than a decade ago that – much like the Council Tax replacement promised all the way back in the SNP’s 2007 manifesto – have just sat on the shelf and gathered dust.

For Greens to have voted to scrap the targets without meaningful action to justify it would simply have been unacceptable. Consequently, grassroots members organised a petition to make use of our democratic mechanism to call a members’ meeting to debate the Bute House Agreement and cast a binding vote on its future – a meeting which would’ve probably taken place in late May.

The petition surpassed the required 100 signatures in mere hours, and thus the party set in motion organising a meeting for us to hold a democratic debate on our future in government.

I don’t know how that debate would’ve gone. What I do feel confident on, however, is that almost every single member of the Scottish Greens would’ve wanted us to maintain a healthy, productive and congenial relationship with the SNP and the Scottish Government, and would’ve ensured that any debate was conducted in a manner conducive to that outcome.

The National: Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf holds a press conference as he announces the SNP will withdraw

When Yousaf announced his decision on Thursday morning to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement, he did not engage himself in that manner. Indeed, much like his announcement of the Council Tax freeze, it was clear that his decision was rushed, poorly considered, and a last-ditch attempt to win over the Salmond-ite right wing of his party.

The motion of no confidence in the FM lodged by the Tories almost immediately following the end of the Bute House Agreement was about as predictable as the SNP supporting independence, and yet Yousaf really didn’t seem to see it coming.

This is a man who will sign an agreement with local authorities to rebuild the fractious relationship with government, then proudly break that agreement mere weeks later. A man who told the media rounds how much he valued the co-operation with the Greens, then unilaterally ended their deal two days later.

How can any politician from any party engage with him in good faith? How can they trust his political judgement when it’s clear he acts impulsively and with an air of impunity?

I have sympathy for Yousaf. His unwavering position on the genocide in Palestine was some of the most powerful, measured and thoughtful leadership I’ve seen from any UK politician – not least in the face of the barrage of racist abuse he was subjected to consistently.

It’s a real shame. I think Yousaf had a huge amount of potential ahead of him. Nonetheless, it all comes back to his undemocratic Council Tax freeze. With that, he revealed himself as a leader who can’t be trusted to stick to agreements, and set in motion the series of events which would eventually lead to his downfall.