I have no idea whether the present turmoil surrounding the SNP’s finances is something more than a series of bad campaign spending decisions. And I guess even if I did know, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it as it’s part of a live investigation.
So, here’s what I do know. Here’s what I can talk about.
First, if someone has done something wrong, then they will be held to account – both by the law and the party itself.
Second, we will use recent events to reform and improve our democratic structures, making the SNP more accountable to its members. A governance and transparency review is already underway and will be back with recommendations in under two months.
Third, we will take no lectures on financial probity from the Tories. A party which accepted at least a quarter of a million pounds from Russian donors since the start of the war in Ukraine. A party which failed to account for £3.6m during the last UK General Election.
Fourth, all of this relates to the internal finances of a private organisation. It has nothing to do with government policy or taxpayer money. Meanwhile, the Tories are consumed by cronyism, sleaze and corruption in public office. Cash for honours. Contracts for pals. Backhanders for themselves.
Now of course, it saddens and frustrates me that the current media feeding frenzy surrounding SNP has overshadowed the first weeks of our new leader and new government. Particularly as there is so much to welcome.
Humza Yousaf is derided by his opponents as the ‘continuity candidate’ as if that were an inherently bad thing. Of course there will be continuity in delivering the left-of-centre socially democratic prospectus on which the SNP Government was elected in 2021. A Scottish Government doing what it can within Westminster’s powerful constraints to tackle poverty, protect public services and act on the climate emergency.
But Humza also represents a fresh approach to getting things done. On Tuesday, he set out his vision for Scotland. It’s worth a look. A renewed focus on delivering efficient and effective public services. Postponing things like the deposit return scheme and proposals to restrict alcohol advertising – which are right in principle – but need more time on the detail. Laser focused on tackling poverty and protecting people from harm. All of this delivered with a new collegiate team approach.
While opponents of the SNP lick their lips and scent advantage, real people outside the Holyrood and Westminster bubble will be guided by their everyday experience. Though times are though, differences are being made in Scotland that matter.
The Scottish Child Payment is putting a hundred quid a month per child into the pockets of low-income families, easing the Tory cost-of-living crisis. Record numbers of young people from working-class backgrounds are going to university. We pay our nurses and teachers more which is why they aren’t on strike. And we ask wealthier people to pay a bit more in tax, making this the fairest taxed part of the UK.