How about an 11-point plan for speeding up vaccines? Or education? Or growing the economy?

THE Soviets were keen on five-year plans — usually to do with tractor production or agricultural output.

Now the SNP’s own Mike Russell, the party president, has drafted an 11-point strategy for achieving independence.

One of the Nationalists’ elder statesmen, he does have the look of a politburo member — a true believer in the great cause.

He’s a veteran windbag of the first order: a preening, pompous pseudo-intellectual, who’s about to step down, and not before time.

Who better to entrust with an ambitious gambit to engineer an exit from the UK than a man who’s about to leave elected office?

The Baldrick-esque plan, if we can dignify it with the name, is all about a wildcat referendum, daring the UK Government to challenge the result in the courts.

It’s a pity there wasn’t an 11-point plan for anything that actually mattered, like Covid vaccination — the current one appears to have two key steps: busk it and blame-shift.

That defines the SNP’s style of governance, such as it is — a blend of bluster and evasion that takes rank incompetence to giddying new heights.

And how many points were there on the plan to rescue state education, one of the earliest alleged goals of the Sturgeon administration in 2014, when she took over from the man who has now become her nemesis.

More than six years on, those heady days when Nicola Sturgeon promised us that reform of state schools was her top priority seem further away than ever, to the extent that they’ve now taken on a dream-like quality.

That would suit the current Cabinet; indeed most governments rely on the electorate’s relatively short memories, which explains why the entire democratic process continues to function, decade after decade (even if Scotland sometimes appears more of a one-party state).

Home schooling on an open-ended basis because of Covid is likely to widen the attainment gap, and the SNP’s failure to close it, as it had said it would, will exacerbate the effects of the postcode lottery that means disadvantaged pupils lose out disproportionately.

An OECD report into Scotland’s educational decline was scheduled for next month but has been delayed until June, conveniently after May’s election, assuming it goes ahead — and you can see why the SNP might want the poll to happen before the OECD findings are released.

Bear in mind the postponement decision was taken in April in more innocent times when we all thought — or were being led to believe — that lockdown would only last for a few months.

At around the same time, the government moved quickly to suspend jury trials and water down freedom of information laws before a public outcry forced abrupt U-turns.

The pandemic has helped to mask the shortcomings of an education system that was long neglected — after all, the SNP had been in office for seven years before Miss Sturgeon took over as First Minister.

First Minister and Nicola Sturgeon and outgoing ‘Brexit Minister’ Mike Russell

During that time, a new curriculum was devised and eventually foisted on teachers whether they liked it or not, and mostly they didn’t like it, not that they had much of a choice.

But nor did pupils as subject rationing ensued, ensuring that the revamped syllabus chipped away at the some of the foundation stones of Scottish education, which were already badly eroded.

On Sunday, the First Minister told Andrew Marr on his BBC TV show, in a rare moment of candour, that it had taken her government too long to drive down our appalling drug deaths rate, now the highest in the EU.

Some new funding was announced last week, which was presented as a huge breakthrough, though it’s not clear where all the money is going and it doesn’t change the overall approach of government — it’s still wedded to parking addicts on the heroin substitute methadone.

It’s a moral outrage that these deaths have spiralled over the last decade — and part of the SNP’s response was to install the woefully ineffectual Joe FitzPatrick as Public Health Minister (he was also involved in early planning of the Covid jabs, which might explain quite a lot).

The death toll of more than 1,200 a year didn’t materialise out of nowhere: it was the shameful culmination of many years of official indifference, denial and a dearth of dynamic thinking — or perhaps any thinking — among policy-makers, as we might optimistically think of them.

The plan on drug deaths contains one or maybe two steps — more of the same and hope for the best — but how many more addicts will have to languish for years on methadone, implicated in almost half of all drug deaths?

Miss Sturgeon was only roused from her inertia by horrifying statistics that were going in the wrong direction, yet again, and the fact that the general public had found out about Mr FitzPatrick following a disastrous appearance in the Holyrood chamber (he quit soon afterwards).

Breaking cover, he exposed just how much effort the SNP had put into solving the problem, which was somewhere between negligible and non-existent.

The party’s domestic agenda, as ramshackle as it is, was the work of a government clearly busy with other things, namely its ceaseless mission to bring about the demise of the United Kingdom.

Covid has shifted the focus away from a host of other failings, with the NHS blighted by soaring waiting lists, the delayed opening of a children’s hospital and patient deaths linked to contaminated tapwater at another supposedly world-class facility.

These latter controversies are the subject of an inquiry — naturally, as inquiries have been the central growth industry in Scotland during the Sturgeon years.

Rampant maladministration fuels that inquest culture, though it’s a bitter irony that Miss Sturgeon’s government has failed to cooperate with a Holyrood inquiry into the Salmond affair.

If that weren’t distraction enough, she’s now trying to quieten down the rebellion in the SNP’s grassroots over her failure to instigate a second referendum by embarking on the lunatic plan to decide the constitutional fate of our country in the courts.

Mr Russell’s dog-eared roadmap to independence says the vote would take place once the pandemic is over, but yesterday Miss Sturgeon refused to say who would decide when it’s finished.

It’s clearly certifiable for this increasingly amateurish outfit to devote any of its much-depleted energies to cooking up childish nonsense about illegal referendums and courtroom challenges.

They were only ever interested in one thing and you can be sure that — as the coronavirus crisis claims more victims in the midst of a botched vaccination programme — that they care mainly about smashing apart the UK, and very little else — certainly nothing so trivial as repairing our broken economy.

The First Minister is fighting fires on so many fronts that for some it might be easy to forget that even before the hell of lockdown she led a blundering government whose chief interest — apart from independence — was its own self-preservation.

Miss Sturgeon is battling to save her skin — genuine reform of the kind she once pledged is nowhere the top of her to-do list, and in reality it never was; in fact, she’s a barrier to any meaningful change.

For that reason, perhaps Miss Sturgeon and her highly-paid spin doctors should prioritise a simple, one-point strategy — planning her departure.

*This column appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on January 26, 2021.

Home Affairs Editor, columnist, leader writer, Scottish Daily Mail. Twitter: @GrahamGGrant Facebook: @sdmnewspaper