EVEN finance secretary Derek Mackay admitted Wednesday's budget was going to be the most brutal Scotland had faced since devolution began.

Yet, Mackay ended up delivering less austere spending plans than expected, thanks to pressure exerted by the Greens.

With the SNP dependent on the Greens to get the budget passed, Mackay made concessions that even as a seasoned negotiator, he perhaps never expected.

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By threatening to sink the budget unless an additional £170m was made available for local councils, the Greens made the budget less painful than it threatened to be. The Greens should be congratulated for the intelligent, constructive and democratic role they played last week.

If only more political parties engaged with each other in such a way. It is regrettable that Labour and the LibDems did not take part in negotiations in similar fashion. One would not expect the Tories to even contemplate such participation.

Green politics are too often written off in the UK as some fringe movement. Voters all across Europe - in countries where the Greens are as much a part of the political spectrum as social democrats or conservatives - would shake their heads in disbelief at how blinkered the UK is on this issue ... though, perhaps, Brexit has taught them that being blinkered is a condition of British political culture.

In truth, the Greens are often in the vanguard of political change - for proof let's think of their position on all things environmental. They got there first, so maybe we should listen to them a little bit more in future.