Burner phones, high-class jewellery, expensive pots and pans and the infamous "beached" motor-home – the police enquiry into SNP finances has reached moments of high farce without charges being brought or dropped. Naturally, with resignations aplenty and admissions of crisis by senior SNP managers, the party is on the back foot. But maybe, against the odds, a small pushback is beginning amongst supporters who are actually joining the party.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, deputy leader Keith Brown said some branches are reporting new members. There are no precise statistics, just anecdotal reports on social media, all of which sound wafty enough to be dismissed as wishful thinking – especially given the SNP’s recent concealment of 30,000 missing members.

And yet it’s quite possible a small resurgence is taking place, precisely because of the steady flow of bad news and the relentless stream of negative headlines which seem alternately vicious, lip-licking, surreal, underwhelming ("Peter Murrell seen again in public" must be the greatest non-headline of the year) and fairly one-sided. After all, the police investigation into faulty PPE supplied by PPE Medpro – a company recommended by Tory peer, Michelle Mone – has attracted very little publicity, even though her husband (a Conservative Party donor) received £65million in profits.

I’m not saying two wrongs make a right. But folk inevitably compare and contrast. So, amidst the feelings of anger, confusion and disappointment with its old leaders, there’s a growing perception of party persecution amongst members – albeit tinged with an awareness that shameful detail may yet emerge.

New members also hope the new SNP will be a fairer, more democratic place than the old regime. Support for independence hasn't dipped and supporters may even have "priced in" Nicola Sturgeon's possible arrest. If it happens it will of course represent a dramatic change in circumstance for a woman judged the most powerful in Britain three short months ago. But it could also prompt more SNP supporters to join, supporting the traditional party of independence and the biggest underdog in British politics – Humza Yousaf.

There’s general acceptance he has faced a tsunami of trouble and tried to face up to it, neither hiding from the media nor abandoning his quest to explain a new policy platform, despite a near total lack of public and media interest. Agreed, a First Minister needs more than a sympathy vote to survive. But for every voter who’s given Mr Yousaf the thumbs down, there’s another who believes, quite fairly, that it’s too soon to tell.

Speaking at Yes events around the country this last week, I’ve met some new SNP members with a variety of motives. Some are strongly attached to Nicola Sturgeon and her legacy. Others, paradoxically, have been critical of the former SNP leader and hope her departure makes the SNP a party they can rejoin. Lightning rarely strikes twice and the removal of a political generation means the SNP will probably become Britain’s most financially transparent party.

Moreover, if Humza Yousaf reads the runes correctly, problems not under police investigation will finally be tackled too. Critics, reformers, democracy campaigners and left-wingers who left the party over centralisation and micromanagement, wonder if there might finally be a fair NEC election and selection of motions at the next, all-important October party conference.

It might yet be a forlorn hope. The media is far more interested in the criminal investigation, so there’s been far less public scrutiny of the SNP’s slow morphing into a corporate, centralising, top-down, hard-to-reach party machine. And yet, that’s where so many of its problems lie. In truth, the SNP needs to undergo something of a revolution in thinking and structures if it’s not to repeat history and terminally disappoint members who want their old party back.

Now fair enough, that informal and fairly democratic SNP which enjoyed robust debates on crucial issues predated its transformation into a party of government and mass membership, becoming Britain’s third largest party after losing the independence referendum in 2014.

Mr Brown and others suggest the rapid growth of the party created structural problems that were never dealt with. Indeed, I remember going to speak at the Kilmarnock branch of the SNP in 2015 only to discover it was one of three separate branches – such was the enormous size of the local membership. Senior SNP figures suggested a paid, regional organisation structure for the party, but that never materialised. The question is why.

The SNP under Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon developed a controlling streak several miles wide, applied internally to "troublesome" members, externally to the independent Yes movement and in government to produce more top-down governance than any other country in Europe. Before Labour and Tory supporters start rubbing their hands though, neither of them has worked-through plans to reverse that centralised direction of travel.

Scotland is essentially like a microcosm of Britain, with little trust amongst the professional, managerial classes in the ability of local people – be they citizens or local SNP branches – to organise themselves. This perhaps is how the crisis in the SNP developed. As party membership grew, so did the leadership’s impulse for control. Indeed, the real problem facing the SNP today may be organisational rather than financial, since micro-management of branches, conference agendas, procedures, leaflets and candidates had all become normal long before the vexed 2016 crowd-funder.

The same historic instincts lie behind many of the intractable policy issues facing Mr Yousaf today. Remote professionalisation has reached its zenith on the Western Isles, where the problem of technical ferry breakdowns masks a deeper problem about political control – not one single resident of an island served by David MacBrayne Group or Calmac Ferries Limited sits on its company board.

This is so behind the curve as to be laughably undemocratic. In other countries, like the Finnish Aland Islands and the Irish Aran Islands, marginalised island communities have bought their own ferries, made island-oriented decisions about design, frequency, routes and fares and revitalised their economies. Why are Hebridean islanders excluded from Cal Mac’s operations? Why does an SNP-led Government maintain the largest councils in the developed world, leaving locals disempowered or forced into exhausting community takeovers? Why no effective land reform and where’s the promised reform of the council tax? There have been so few answers over recent years, that independence-supporting activists have given up or moved out of the SNP.

Is there a good reason to rejoin? Will Mr Yousaf jettison the "command economy" outlook that’s inhabited every aspect of party functioning and government policy? It’ll be tough. But there is no better time for a total reset.