WE’VE come a long way since the former first minister and the Scottish Government were hailed for their transparency and candidness during the Covid pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon was widely praised for going in front of the cameras nearly every day to personally update the nation on the latest pandemic developments and changes to Covid regulations.

Yet, there now appears to be a sudden reluctance when it comes to showing us all the working as to how and why decisions were made at the top levels of government.

The former first minister and the Scottish Government promised full transparency and co-operation at the time, solemnly vowing to turn over everything asked for by any future inquiry – but now that the inquiry is underway, the Government has failed to do so, and records of WhatsApp conversations (the communications medium of choice for Scottish ministers and key officials) are being withheld or have been mysteriously deleted.

Last week, the UK inquiry hearings showed how important it is for informal messages to be considered as evidence and both the UK and Scottish Covid inquiries must be able to carry out their investigations fully without government obstruction.

There is a duty for all governments in the UK to fully comply with these inquiries so that future pandemics are appropriately handled, and all lessons learnt.

WhatsApp messages are not the only thing the Government has withheld from the inquiry, with access to unredacted legal advice given to the Government during the pandemic also being blocked.

The SNP must hold themselves to the standards of transparency that they are quick to criticise others of failing to meet.

Any evidence not handed over to the inquiry is a betrayal of thousands of Scots who lost loved ones during the pandemic and who rightly expect honesty and transparency from those who made the key decisions.

This is just one example of a much wider culture of secrecy in the SNP government. It is the sign of an arrogant government that has become too entitled to power after 16 years.

Nothing demonstrates this collective mindset more than last week’s handling of the revelation that health secretary Michael Matheson racked up a staggering £11,000 bill for the use of mobile data on his parliamentary iPad while on a holiday to Morocco last year.

There was justified bewilderment as to how Matheson could accumulate such an eyewatering bill in a seven-day period, and how it was a ‘legitimate expense’ that the public purse should cover while he takes in a salary of £118,511 per year, amongst the top 1% of earners in Scotland.

There is a litany of questions that still need answered, including whether the iPad was exclusively used for work purposes, yet the health secretary decided to evade scrutiny by making a very brief statement to the Holyrood press pack before scuttling off.

The responsibility lay solely with Matheson, and he was right to U-turn and pay the significant sum back himself, but only after he realised that he was likely to lose his job, and the huge ministerial salary.

Both these debacles serve as further evidence the SNP government believes the norms of transparency and being held to account doesn’t apply to it.

This arrogance with power is scunnering more Scots by the week, who are turning to support Labour in ever higher numbers. A change of government can’t come quickly enough.