AS predictably as seagulls follow chip-wrappers, Susan Aitken was quick to mimic Nicola Sturgeon’s intervention on the impending economic crisis. The First Minister had said: “It is clear that the UK currently faces a rapidly escalating emergency that goes beyond simply the cost of living and is now a more general cost of everything crisis.”

Ms Aitken, leader of Glasgow’s ruling SNP group, said: “I am writing as the leader of City of Glasgow to urge you to take immediate action to support households through the escalating cost-of-living crisis and in particular the energy cost crisis.”

The message is clear and unambiguous: The Scottish Government is powerless to ease the effects of the expected fuel hikes and the daily cost of living while the UK Government retains total control over the relevant tax levers and purse-strings.

The implication is equally clear: it wouldn’t be like this if Scotland was free to determine its own domestic affairs and its future economic and fiscal arrangements.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Glasgow had a degree of autonomy from Holyrood and it was acknowledged that Scotland’s most important and populous city had an aggregation of social and cultural challenges that required special attention. During Ms Aitken’s tenure the local authority has become a dutiful and supine outreach of a tightly controlled and centralising Edinburgh plutocracy.

Helpfully for Ms Sturgeon and her acolytes, Liz Truss, the woman who is expected to be the next UK Prime Minister, has provided an entire suite of extreme right-wing interventions to deflect attention from the SNP’s inertia during the current crisis. The UK Foreign Secretary suggests that profiteering is good; windfall taxes on the vast yields of the energy companies are bad and any questions about help for families are “left-wing” and thus wicked.

There must have a few concerns at SNP central command that the take-down of Boris Johnson would cut off a healthy supply of currency. If Ms Truss becomes Prime Minister expect the First Minister’s WhatsApp cabinet to break out the good tea and shortbread.

It also helped that Glasgow, as expected, was shortlisted to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Social media thus thrummed with the breathless exclamations of unalloyed joy by the SNP’s culture bureau. In 21st Scotland, no opportunity is ever wasted to convey contentment and a sense of Cool Caledonia.

The steady accumulation of an army of advisors and spin doctors – £1m a year and counting – has been gathering pace for a time like this. The three major indicators of social health in Scotland recently have been exam results, drug deaths and the four-yearly index of multi-deprivation. In 15 years, despite having full control over all of these, the Scottish Government have failed abysmally in each of them.

Wavering voters, their hearts beguiled by the thought of independence; their heads less so, might reasonably ask why the First Minister talks about seeking all the powers when her government, filled by footless and unquestioning loyalists, can’t properly deploy those they already have.

Well, we have a sprawling social media team to deal with this. Commonwealth golds? We’re all over it. Eurovision? We’ve got it covered. Edinburgh Festival? Nicola’s playing a blinder. Ukraine? Let’s stick a wee yellow and blue flag on our timeline and cheer the First Minister for donating £65m to the proxy war on Russia. Aren’t we a good little client state of America and NATO?

Little is made of the fact that under the austerity programme envisioned by the SNP’s only work concerning the economy – the Growth Commission – austerity and sterlingisation would offer scant room to plot an independent path away from Liz Truss and her implacable commitment to protecting the profits of multi-nationals and the energy cartels.

The shrill demands by the First Minister for the UK Government to “do something” mask her government’s failure to produce anything resembling a strategy to do what it can. The Ukraine war is six months old and we knew two years ago that the Covid recovery would imperil the poorest and most disadvantaged in Scotland.

Yet, in this time the SNP has refused point blank to trigger any of the levers that might mitigate the crisis. Gordon Brown has suggested it’s time to nationalise energy, offering a contrast to Sir Keir Starmer’s invisibility during the crisis. Mr Brown’s intervention also spotlights the absence of anything meaningful from the SNP about dealing with the long-term effects of the economic apocalypse.

Instead it has already signalled its intent to act as the handmaidens of the energy cartel by selling off prime coastal real estate for a fraction of Shell and BP’s annual profits. Nicola Sturgeon’s promise five years ago to establish a National Energy company has been quietly shelved with little explanation. Nor can we expect the Scottish Greens, the most supine impostors at Holyrood, to demand answers.

Sometimes it’s the small acts of Ms Sturgeon’s government that signal its essential conservatism: the refusal to permit trade union activity in care homes during the pandemic; the blanking of the party’s trade union group’s proposal advocating creative use of devolved tax powers; the two-year delay in imposing rent controls. The delay suggests some lobbying firms have been busy justifying their fees.

Following the latest shocking drugs death figures, this week’s exam results are part of an abject pattern of failure in easing the plight of Scotland’s poorest communities. The doubling of the educational attainment gap to around 15% shows why the First Minister was wise to stop kidding us all on that she was ever serious about addressing this.

But then this was the government which, in the last two years, established a “presumed grading” system which favoured affluent pupils. This was followed by a “demonstrated attainment” principle which flew in the face of what they were being told by teachers and heads.

As with drug and alcohol addiction an entire sector comprising armies of unaccountable bureaucrats, academics and statisticians has grown up around education. It feeds off the teat of Scotland’s public funds and is united with Holyrood’s favoured addiction executives in ignoring the experience of those who work on the front line.

Even if Boris Johnson were to hand Nicola Sturgeon a few billion as his farewell gift you wouldn’t be confident her government would spend it properly.