There has been much commentary in London on the cleverness of Nicola Sturgeon’s latest bid to start another fight with the UK government .

Sturgeon announced in her speech to her party’s annual rally that the SNP government will award a £500 bonus to workers in the NHS and social care. She demanded that the Westminster government make it tax free, thus setting up a dividing line with supposedly heartless London, even though the UK is spending money like water across the UK pooling help for all parts of the UK and getting no credit in Scotland.

The £500 for the NHS was a classic SNP sting, combining virtue-signalling, divisiveness, a dash of implied anti-Englishness and bad economics.

Ian Trump, sorry Ian Blackford, the SNP’s permanently furious leader at Westminster was soon labelling it “appalling” that the government had snubbed Scotland by refusing the plea to make it tax free.

Cue more depression among battered Unionists on both sides of the border. The populist SNP is skilled at this kind of Trumpian play, presenting Westminster as the problem when UK combined financial firepower is getting the country through the crisis. The SNP gets away with presenting Westminster as the baddies while Sturgeon gets an hour each day on the BBC to propagandise.

Reaction Editor Iain Martin tweeted that the giveaway will be popular with Scottish voters because it appeals to the moral superiority complex that much of the electorate suffers from. He may be wrong, and harping on about a Scottish moral superiority complex delusion is not the way to convince Scots to wake up to the dangerous tinpot nationalist antics of the SNP.

But there are flickers of life. Little signs that some people are unhappy at being dragooned.

The respected Fraser of Allander Institute weighed in today, explaining in unemotional terms why the tax free bonus gimmick is a poor idea.

The authors – David Eiser and Graeme Roy, director of the Institute – wrote:

“Exempting any bonuses from tax is not widely regarded as a good use of tax policy – regardless of which govt has the powers to do it, and regardless how much we appreciate the work done by NHS/social care workers in recent months. There’s a reason bonuses are taxed; if they weren’t, everyone would want paid in bonuses rather than regular pay. Making an exception to the rule once opens the possibility of endless future lobbying for tax-exempt bonuses – which is not something any government should be keen to encourage. More importantly, exempting bonuses from tax appears at odds with the context of the existing progressive tax system. If NHS workers received an extra £500 in normal pay, higher rate taxpayers would pay more of that in tax than basic rate taxpayers – that’s the basis of fairness on which the system is based. Exempting the bonus from tax would gift higher rate taxpayers a significantly larger tax break than basic rate taxpayers. It is really not clear what the rationale for this would be.”

This was a brave piece for the Institute’s director to publish, and it was under a suitably neutral headline: “On exempting NHS bonus payments from tax.”

Such is the ANC’s grip, sorry, such is the SNP’s grip, on civic Scotland, business and academia that it is dangerous to deviate at all in public from the worldview of the ruling cabal. If you disagree with the SNP, you must try to keep it quiet.

It is extraordinary how much, as Alex Massie pointed out in the Spectator this week, the SNP in its hubris has come to resemble all that was worst about Scottish Labour when it grew too arrogant and controlling. Nothing lasts forever. Political parties can go down as well as up. As the fate of Scottish Labour shows.

Will the voters notice in time before next year’s Holyrood elections? Perhaps not. Sturgeon and Blackford will be banking on what one prominent Scottish Unionist terms the “three Bs” – Brexit, Boris and generally talking B******s about Westminster” – to ensure a massive landslide.

But Star Wars-style there are pockets of resistance out there, and they will grow.