YOU would never accuse the SNP Government of harbouring any traditional Christian proclivities. Even so, a few in the cabinet may be familiar with the Parable of the Faithful Servant in Luke:35. Along with the tale of the Good Samaritan it’s one of the New Testament tracts that scares the bejesus out of me, an inconstant believer. The Luke version ends with the following admonition: “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”

Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers should heed this lesson well. They may not be destined for that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth but they will never be forgiven by the wider movement for Scottish independence if they are deemed to have squandered the advantages they have been gifted these past few years.

There is some merit in the analysis that, after the peak of returning 56 MPs to Westminster and reducing the Labour Party in Scotland to an inconsequential pressure group, the only way was down. The theory advanced by Alex Massie, Scottish Editor of The Spectator, that time has simply caught up with the SNP has some calibre. Even in the face of such ineluctable verities the party is still the recipient of gilt-edged gifts and opportunities from a well that never seems to run dry.

Even in the SNP’s wildest dreams they could not have expected Labour in Scotland’s core support simply to migrateen masse. This owed little to SNP strategy and much to the supine incompetence of the Labour leadership over an entire political generation.

The Labour leadership’s generosity doesn’t look like ending any time soon as Kezia Dugdale continues to bend the knee to the mantra of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party: “There shall be no referendum.” Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the General Election might have been expected to presage some trouble for the SNP with the prospect of former Labour supporters returning to the fold. Mr Corbyn’s inexplicable support for a hard Brexit has been another unexpected boon.

Even in the midst of Ms Sturgeon’s dark nights of the soul these past few weeks as she ruminated on the loss of 21MPs, a shaft of light appeared in the form of Arlene Foster. The formidable leader of the Democratic Unionist Party has jemmied her band of 10 Ulster MPS into the machine of Westminster Government. Faced by the cowed and beaten figure of Theresa May across the negotiating table, the money she has, in a matter of a few days, exacted from the UK Treasury for providing her with a pair of crutches will be the least of it.

The suspicion that David Mundell raised not a cheep in trying to secure match funding for Scotland ought also to have lightened the First Minister’s burden. The reality of government is that the weakest prime minister since the time of Robert Walpole is propped up by a squad of political flat-earth devotees bought off by the fruit from a money tree that Ms May had claimed did not exist a few weeks previously. That ought to have silenced Ruth Davidson and given her food for thought on her manoeuvres as a weekend soldier.

Armed with all of this and a vote to maintain the scandalously low pay levels of key public service workers, the First Minister ought to have been relishing a turkey shoot on Tuesday when she shared the result of her nocturnal musings on Scottish independence.

Instead she retreated timidly to the safe territory that has kept so many of her ministers and their armies of civil servants in big salaries; staff cars and gilded pensions for the past 10 years. She should have flung the battle-cry of Ms Davidson’s political spirit-guide back down her throat. “On independence this lady is not for turning.” Instead, she gave us a speech of which Mrs May would have been proud.

It looks increasingly likely that the next Holyrood election in 2021 will also determine whether or not a second independence referendum will happen. Even from this far out the odds on a pro-independence majority being returned are favourable so long as the SNP Government snaps out of its default approach which, thus far, has been to be safe, cautious and malleable.

Yet, the start the SNP Government has made to this period, so crucial for the wider independence movement, has been predictably inauspicious. John Swinney’s Education Governance Review was an exercise in timidity and failed dismally to address the huge inequalities in Scottish education. His baseless dismissal of the imaginative Al-Qalam and St Joseph’s community school models will return to haunt him.

The SNP then turned to address the two other great burning issues gripping the nation: Air Passenger Duty and, ahem … the docking of hunting dogs’ tails. Thus, in the space of a few days, this liberal, progressive and enlightened Government decided to deprive Scotland’s hard-pressed Treasury of £309 million in guaranteed annual income and to facilitate a humane and barbaric practice without anaesthetic, favoured by the country set.

If you wish to seek some of the reasons why, look no further than the list of companies and bodies willing to pay more than £20,000 for the privilege of sponsoring recent SNP conferences.

Barring an electoral catastrophe and aided by Mrs May’s gunboat diplomacy in the Brexit negotiations, the SNP will secure another four years in government after 2021. It will then be approaching two decades in power. A feeling persists that, in this time, it has begun to grow comfortable and complacent on the trappings of power; its squadrons of special advisers dusting down cvs to their pet lobbying firms so that they can call in the favours for services rendered while in government.

The campaign for an independent Scotland has left the SNP behind. It’s time for the wider Yes movement and its stalwarts to step up to the mark: Women for Independence; Business for Scotland and Common Space.

They need to come out from beneath the skirts of the SNP and start demanding the money they’ve amassed for a fight for which the party no longer seems to have the stomach.