Under their two former leaders, the SNP developed a knack for squashing legitimate criticism by effectively mobilising a populist rabble to drown out the nay-sayers. This relied on a powerful cult-of-personality which masqueraded as “progressive politics”, but was really never much more than performative leftism.

Nonetheless, it effectively cowed many members of the left, leaving only a small handful of outspoken critics who were willing to consistently challenge them. I have never shied away from holding truth to power and, over the last ten or so years, have attempted to expose the hypocrisy and corruption which has plagued the SNP administration from the very beginning.

At times this felt like a quixotic project, as successive Tory governments lacked the bravery and/or organisational capacity to properly inspect the actions of the Scottish government. However, of late, my task has been made much easier by an FM who seems incapable of keeping a lid on the scandals which bubbled away throughout the Salmond and Sturgeon years.

I have also been heartened by recent developments in the Lords, where two of my colleagues - Lord Wallace and Baroness Goldie - decided to step up and join me in this fight, creating a cross-party group which, we hope, might finally convince the UK government to rein in the SNP’s excesses.

This all came to fruition quite organically, after Baroness Goldie made an excellent contribution in the debate I raised, at the start of February, around devolved competencies. I have been badgering the government for many years on this issue, but rarely heard an argument which summarises the issues so succinctly.

To quote the Baroness: “As Scotland’s educational standards decline, its NHS faces acute challenges—not least the recruitment of consultants—and ferries languish in a Scottish government shipyard, overpriced, overdue and much needed by the operators, the response of the Scottish Government, not only to spend money on completely illegitimate and incompetent objectives, but to make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the United Kingdom, is, in the face of these challenges, as incomprehensible as it is regrettable.”

This is, in a nut-shell, the essence of many of my complaints, and shortly thereafter we decided it was high time for members of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to set aside their differences and unite, in common cause, for the greater good of Scotland.

Lord Wallace, Baroness Goldie and I may disagree on many other issues, but on this central issue we share a view that also surfaces weekly in our inboxes: the SNP are spending taxpayers’ money on bad-faith projects at the expense of Scotland’s public services.

An obvious example of this overreach is the huge public spend on new overseas “embassies” in countries which already have a Scottish Development International (SDI) office. SDIs are an excellent example of effective cross-party collaboration, established by the Labour-Lib Dem coalition in 2001, and I believe they play an important role in growing “brand Scotland” on the international stage.

Their very existence and numerous successes over the years, in drawing trade to Scotland, clearly demonstrates that these new offices are at best vanity projects which perform no function or, at worst, a deliberate attempt to create channels for foreign policy discussions which exclude the UK government.

Doubling up like this also causes confusion, for allied governments and businesses, around which channel should be used for communicating with the Scottish government, and it is fostering a deep resentment within Scots who would rather the money was spent on our NHS and education sector.

We have heard this message, despite many in Westminster continuing to plug their ears, and will continue to champion a thorough spending review, through a variety of campaign tactics, until the government finally takes action.

Unbridled spending is unwise even during times of economic growth, but it is particularly damaging for struggling families during this cost of living crisis. It is therefore imperative that we resolve whether these actions can be classed as devolved competencies, as the SNP claim: if so, the legal loopholes must be tightened, and if not, there must be appropriate consequences. 

Lord George Foulkes is a former Labour MP and MSP