All it needed was grainy images of stormtroopers goose-stepping in the background but in a grim party election broadcast, the message from the SNP on Tuesday was clear: jackbooted or not, Scotland is being ground into the dirt by English Conservative oppressors.

Maybe the wannabe Alan Parker director realised that would be going too far but, presented by an actor resembling free-spirited Princess Merida from the cartoon movie Brave, they might as well have gone the whole hog and got a job lot from Mel Gibson to include evil English knights from Braveheart or a few tricorned redcoats from The Patriot for good measure.

But I suspect thoughtful SNP supporters would have winced at a sequence with multiple television screens showing blurry images of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon which was more like North Korean TV or something from the 1954 dramatisation of 1984 with Peter Cushing. For Alex Salmond-supporting Alba-nonis, telescreens from the Big Sister House will have confirmed everything they have been saying about the personality cult now gripping the party.

The tone was like that of the 1986 Aids public information film, except the message was “Don’t die of ignorance, vote SNP”. It’s all a far cry from the “joyous and inclusive” independence campaign of 2013-14.

It’s not so inclusive if you’re in the half of the population which doesn’t want another referendum anytime soon, and definitely not if you are in the 29 per cent of Edinburgh people who voted Conservative in 2017.

Those not pledged to the Dear Leader see a Scotland which benefits from Union, in which every £100 raised in tax is matched by £137 of public spending, with precisely £1633 more per head spent here than the UK average. Sixteen per cent of all jobs in Edinburgh are supported by the UK furlough scheme.

According to the Financial Times, an independent Scotland would face tax rises or spending cuts equivalent to £1765 per person to hit the three per cent deficit target needed to qualify for EU membership. Maybe the EU would ease the rules to, say, five per cent, but that would still mean having to find around £1,000 a person, and at the same time set up a central bank in which international lenders had instant faith in the government’s control of spending.

But according to Princess Merida, only sunshine and happiness lies ahead for the wee toddler projected behind her, a tot who actually faces a future in which the continued decline of school standards means the education they will receive will not be good as their parents received and significantly worse than their grandparents. Still, they got a baby box.

We now know from the Alba campaign launch that if last weekend’s polls are borne out then on day one of the new parliament the arguments will start in earnest between a majority SNP and Alex Salmond’s new ultras demanding instant delivery of a referendum process against Ms Sturgeon’s more cautious approach. The scene is being set for years of nationalist bickering about how independence should be delivered, not how services can be improved.

There is no majority for independence, there is no majority for another referendum, and the vote duplication between the SNP and Alba proves only that if anything is broken in Scotland it’s the electoral system.

Airport bosses have been left fuming over a lack of urgency and transparency from the Scottish Government around a planned pilot testing scheme last year which was quietly binned in December.

Edinburgh Airport and AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, were forced to submit two freedom of information requests in order to discover why plans to pilot a double test regime whereby passengers are tested on arrival and five days later were dropped.

Initially officials in the civil service had told the airports they were unable to say whether the plans had been rejected for several weeks despite having recommended them for refusal within days, with the FOI request required to find out the reasons why the plans were dropped.

The airport proposals were rejected on the basis of “considerable concerns” about removing quarantine for travellers but said it was “beneficial to explore a pilot approach”.

Plans to upgrade the notorious Sheriffhall roundabout must be made a priority, Edinburgh Southern Conservative candidate Miles Briggs has said.

The £120 million scheme, which includes a flyover to ease congestion, was halted in February last year so a review could be carried out as part of the SNP’s Holyrood budget agreement with the Greens.

But Mr Briggs said the rush-hour queues which have long plagued commuters are getting worse and demanded that the project – financed under the City Region Deal should resume.

He said: “It has to become a priority. The SNP have been dragging their feet on it. They did a deal with the Greens which has just paused it for a year, so for people using the bypass – particularly at peak times – it’s just getting worse and worse.

“This is a key improvement that need to be prioritised as soon as possible in the next parliament.”

And he said congestion on the bypass had also been neglected for too long. “It’s quite clear it’s over-capacity. Even during the pandemic when people are meant to be working from home there are tailbacks at Sheriffhall every morning.”

He said he had put forward a number of “workable suggestions” which ministers had ignored, including use of “smart motorway” technology and a feasibility study into widening the road.

Mr Ross commented while on the campaign trail in Moray, and ahead of his visit to Edinburgh on Monday – in the run-up to the Holyrood election on May 6.

Analysis from the Financial Times published today has determined that a major deterioration in Scotland’s fiscal position since the independence referendum in 2014 suggests it will face a persistent deficit of nearly 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) if it leaves the UK by the middle of this decade.

The newspaper added that the nation has seen its budget deficit widened by lower-than-expected tax revenues, Brexit and the coronavirus crisis – and reducing its GDP deficit from about 10 per cent to a “manageable” 3 per cent would require raising taxes or slashing public spending annually by the equivalent of £1,765 per person in the period after exiting the UK.

© Scotland Matters