Euan McColm Euan McColm

The SNP’s strange relationship with ‘full transparency’

Humza Yousaf (Credit: Getty images)

The SNP makes quite the fuss of its dedication to openness and transparency from political leaders. Voters deserve to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about those in power. And woe betide anyone who dares not to adhere to this principle.

Take former prime minister, Boris Johnson, for example. During his time in office, the Scottish nationalists rarely stopped demanding he publish all manner of information.

The SNP’s commitment to ‘full transparency’ and the public’s right to know is not, it turns out, absolute

It was essential, claimed the SNP, that details of Johnson’s responses to a police questionnaire about lockdown-breaking parties be made public because voters had a right to ‘full transparency’. It was also necessary, insisted the Nats, for Johnson to publish bank statements and correspondence relating to the refurbishment of the flat in 10 Downing Street. Again, this was required in the name of ‘full transparency’.

Johnson was also urged by the SNP to publish the findings of a parliamentary standards watchdog’s investigation into a holiday he and his wife Carrie enjoyed in 2019. The public had a right to know who paid and how much it cost, said the Nats.

But the SNP’s commitment to ‘full transparency’ and the public’s right to know is not, it turns out, absolute. When the politician from whom information is being requested is a Scottish nationalist, cover-up and obfuscation appears to be the default response.

In a move that would have sent the SNP into apoplexy had it been tried by any other party, the Scottish government went to court on Wednesday to try to prevent publication of details of an inquiry into whether former first minister Nicola Sturgeon broke Holyrood’s ministerial code. The inquiry relates to Sturgeon’s handling of allegations of improper behaviour levelled against her predecessor Alex Salmond by a number of women.

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