WE all know that transparency does not come naturally to the Scottish National Party. To be transparent is to be able to be held accountable and the SNP’s raison d’etre depends on avoiding scrutiny of their record and their disastrous plans for Scotland.

In the midst of a public health emergency, though, transparency isn’t just about the usual party political clashes. It’s vital to our ability to track the successes or otherwise of policies put in place to curb this deadly virus.

It was revealed last week that the SNP’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman MSP, misled the public over the Scottish Government’s policy on releasing patients from hospital into care homes at the start of this crisis. She has since admitted that she gave out incorrect information when she suggested that only around 300 people had been discharged from hospital on this basis by April 15 – in fact, the figure is more than three times that.

This comes less than two weeks after Jeane Freeman told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme that she hadn’t read the latest guidance to care homes on admitting patients despite it being published on the Scottish Government’s website.

Her futher failure of leadership over what is widely suspected to be one of the epicentres of coronavirus transmission in Scotland – the Edinburgh Nike conference – has led to accusations of a “cover up” as reports surfaced of those that had come into contact with delegates finding out about the outbreak via the media, not from contact tracing.

Usually the words “but England” are never more than a few moments away from the mouths of nationalist politicians, always more comfortable manufacturing division and grievance between the nations of the United Kingdom than defending their own record, but comparisons with England lay bare the manifest failings of Jeane Freeman with the tragic death rate in Scottish care homes more than double that south of the Border.

Perhaps if the Health Secretary spent less time responding to pro-nationalist bloggers on social media offering to sort out supermarket deliveries and more time speaking to care home residents being failed by her Government on protective equipment and testing then the public might have some trust in her ability to steer the country through this crisis.

As it is, however, I agree with the comments made by Jackson Carlaw MSP: “In light of these events, it is impossible to see how public confidence can be maintained in the Cabinet Secretary for Health.”

The fundamental problem is that SNP politicians are so used to being able to pass the buck and blame Westminster that when a public health crisis emerges and the devolution settlement places full responsibility on their shoulders, the result is wide-ranging incompetence.

As someone whose partner works in a care home – and on behalf of all those whose mums, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, cousins and grandparents who both work and reside in care homes across the country – this is personal.