LAST week I wrote that the devolution settlement had been purposefully distorted by the SNP in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. That was in the context of withholding vital funds that councils across Scotland need to resource our response to the crisis. 

This week, their blatant politicisation of the UK’s strategy to emerge from lockdown can only be seen as an attempt to use devolution once again to pursue their own partisan agenda of separation.

From the beginning of the crisis, when Nicola Sturgeon pre-empted the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement by a few hours, the SNP have sought to engrain their usual narrative that the Scottish Government can take the credit for everything that goes right but when things go awry then it’s the fault of those nasty Westminster Tories. 

Unfortunately for them, that narrative does not match the reality of their failed response to this crisis. 

From creating a separate business grants regime that put Scottish firms at a massive disadvantage compared to their peers in the rest of the UK to hoarding cash that down south was distributed to local government, the SNP have used devolution to detract from – rather than enhance – the support offered to the Scottish people. 

I know that division is the hallmark of nationalists across the globe but difference for difference’s sake when it’s the people of Scotland that need to pay the price is just not on and I’m not scared to call them out on it.

On the face of it, it’s no surprise that a separatist administration wants to implement separate policies. But it’s people like the traders at the Forge Market that will pay 
the price. Because of a bureaucratic loophole, the more than 100 small businesses that operate there and pay their rates through rent to the market are being denied grant money by Scottish Government guidelines. 

But in England, the UK Government acknowledged this discrepancy and made money available through a discretionary fund to accommodate certain small businesses – including market traders – who were previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. This is just not on. Coronavirus doesn’t distinguish between a market stall in Glasgow or Grimsby – both face the same challenges and both should be offered the same support. We are one United Kingdom.

Nicola Sturgeon has said throughout this emergency that ordinary politics is the furthest thing from her mind at this time. But reports emerged on Thursday that leading SNP politicians are drawing up a renewed case for Scottish independence while Britain is in lockdown and SNP elected representatives have openly discussed ways in which the crisis can help them achieve separation.

Angus MacNeil MP even suggested that police should patrol the border with England. When their one and only political priority is breaking up Britain, it’s not surprising that the SNP have taken their eye off the ball. 

Our recovery from this crisis depends on them abandoning the pursuit of partisan advantage and genuinely working together. Judging by their recent history, I won’t hold my breath.