THE SNP has been in office since 2007, and Nicola Sturgeon has been a prominent figure – deputy first minister and then first minister – throughout that period, which has been dominated by the constitutional question. Ms Sturgeon’s stated view is that ‘independence transcends everything’.
As a means towards its end, the party has infiltrated Scottish life to an unprecedented extent. Third sector organisations, schools and universities, among others, know where a substantial amount of their funding comes from and conduct themselves accordingly. The arts are not immune: the then culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, explained a couple of years ago that artists should have ‘a common understanding of what the country wants’, which, loosely translated means ‘what the SNP wants’. Some private businesses have been leaned on. A couple of years ago, the director of the Highland Spring mineral water company, Les Montgomery, spoke out of turn:
“Businesses are fed up. The Scottish Government should be getting on with the job they are there to do. Focusing on employment, investment, those kinds of things. Independence isn’t the job that the Scottish Government is supposed to be doing.”