IT’S ironic. The Scottish Greens have finally made headlines by NOT putting up candidates in constituencies the SNP might win in June’s General Election to cheers from grateful Yessers and accusations of SNP stoogery from Labour and the Tories.

Meanwhile though the Greens WILL stand in places like Edinburgh North and Leith and Glasgow North -- potentially dividing the independence vote in seats they’d be very lucky to win.

That decision has prompted charges of selfishness, internal party chaos and a fair degree of puzzlement amongst non-Green Yes supporters. What’s it all about?

Fa kens. But the apparent confusion obscures a strategy that might well work for a party squeezed for years by the behemoth of Big Sister SNP and a Scottish media that simply doesn’t understand a political party which chooses to practise what it preaches -- ultra local control. Let’s take the media problem first.

The Scottish Greens pushed the LibDems into fourth place in the 2016 Holyrood elections and successfully forced more council cash out of the SNP in February of this year before supporting the Scottish Government’s budget.

Did that mean they were taken more seriously by the media?

Au contraire. STV won’t include co-convener Patrick Harvie in next weekend’s Scottish leaders’ debate, even though he was included in their Holyrood election debate in 2016 and will be part of BBC Scotland’s leaders debate this time round. Weirdly that represents a total volte-face by each broadcaster.

Presumably STV has spotted that the LibDems have one MP – dear old Alistair Carmichael – whilst the Scottish Greens have none.

Of course STV can also argue now that the Greens are set to contest only a handful of Westminster seats in Scotland and will therefore not qualify for party election broadcasts.

But if that’s the thinking, it’s pretty poor. Back in the late 1990s there was not a single Conservative MP elected north of the Border. The BBC and STV not only allowed them on panels but Aunty insisted the Tories should speak second in any debate.

I was chairing election hustings programmes at the time and simply lost that last part of the London memo. Tories were included because they were part of the Scottish political scene even if the first-past-the-post voting system they ironically still favour gave them nil points in terms of actual seats.

Funnily enough, most Scots are fair-minded that way.

So the Tories were included in debates back in 1997 but the Greens are barred 20 years later because they don’t have a Westminster seat? That’s poor.

And it’s a backward step. During the Rainbow Scottish Parliament from 2003-2007 there were lots of small parties – somehow we managed. But since then elections have become more presidential and TV companies have grown more concerned about reducing the clutter of lecterns and podiums than fairly representing the full spectrum of political reality.

It’s a sair fecht when TV format dictates the limits of democracy.

In any case, elections these days are a mash-up of issues, local, national and international. Very few elections – or televised leaders’ debates -- focus exclusively on issues affecting only that tier of government. Any lost SNP seats on June 8 for example, will be portrayed by STV and other broadcasters as a reflection of dissatisfaction with the Scottish Government – even though it has no formal nexus within a General Election. So why is it OK to exclude one Scottish party completely – especially when it wields a fair wee bit of clout at Holyrood?

The Scottish Greens have one more MSP than the LibDems, more party members and won 19 seats in last week’s council elections. They are a small party – but not an insignificant one.

The omission of Scottish Greens in the STV debate also means there is a constitutional imbalance with one pro-independence party (the SNP) against three Unionist ones in an election where those Unionist parties have never stopped talking about independence. That’s just no fair, and STV would do well to reconsider now and include Patrick Harvie in their leaders’ debate.

Not least because he is now a Westminster candidate, standing in Glasgow North.

The Greens took pelters last weekend, when that unexpected move was announced. Some assumed Patrick must have taken a maddy or had a row with Andy Wightman – after all why would anyone want to swap some power at home in Holyrood for the likelihood of no success on June 8, and the certainty of no power at Westminster if he actually won?

Meanwhile, having branches all over Scotland opt not to stand against the SNP does make it look as if the Greens are throwing in the towel. Well it does if winning at all costs is your political philosophy.

But maybe there is method in the apparent madness.

The Scottish National Party is tightly controlled by the centre – the Greens are so locally autonomous that at the time of writing I’ve only just found out that all three branches in David Mundell’s seat have agreed not to field a candidate. (The National has been trying with limited success to reach people from all three all this week, I’m told.) And there’s a sense of outrage at that. How dare the wee guys hold up big national decisions while they make up their minds? It was the same last year when the president of the Belgian region of Wallonia refused to sign off the CETA agreement – except that bit of local muscle-flexing left most Yes voters cheering.

Likewise, there is something gloriously, cussedly democratic about Patrick Harvie’s inability to tell local Scottish Green branches what to do. On the other hand, in a political culture that still rates big-hitters over peace-makers and in a political environment that demands party discipline, herding cats looks simpler than getting a quick decision from the Scottish Greens.

Somewhere between the hyper-controlled SNP and the laidback, local Greens lies a couple of viable but responsive political parties – hopefully in the near future.

But meanwhile back to the current Green strategy. I suspect the local branches who’ve decided not to stand candidates against the SNP are saving more than pennies and energy. They are also rekindling the comradeship and sense of common purpose aroused by the indyref and developed in all-party/no-party Yes groups across Scotland. We need just such thinking over the next couple of years with a Yes hub in each town if ScotRef is to succeed. So well done the Greens for spontaneously kick-starting the process. Of course, that’s not to say party politics and self-promotion have been completely abandoned. Whilst Scottish Greens have bowed out from completely unwinnable seats, they have scaled up in a few high-profile seats, like Glasgow North. In so doing, they’ve have taken a leaf out of Caroline Lucas’s book.

The Green MP for Brighton was first a councillor and an MEP – a decade of slogging away at council and European level to build the local Green party and a media profile that finally created the platform to clinch the Westminster seat in 2010. Patrick Harvie is a Glasgow MSP and the Scottish Greens did very well in North Glasgow in last week’s council elections, so why shouldn’t they hope Hillhead and the West End may become McBrighton if they keep standing and keep building?

It may seem like a pretty forlorn, and very long-term project. But what else can the Scottish Greens do other than hang on in there, endure their random and unfair exclusion from the media spotlight and continue to make ground with hard work and imaginative policy solutions?

Despite having radical and viable alternatives on land reform, fracking, local government and climate change – and despite being led by a man who frequently polls higher than Ruth Davidson – the Scottish Greens only make headlines when they’re in trouble or doing something whacky.

It’s not fair, but it’s not going to change unless the Greens stand up for themselves. Strangely enough, in choosing to stand down across unwinnable Scotland but stand up in a couple of prominent seats – they may just have done that.