There can surely be little mystery about why Nicola Sturgeon has decided to put all of her not inconsiderable political energies into re-igniting the SNP's clamour for another independence referendum.
After all, what else does she have to offer? Breaking up Britain is all she has left for her party conference next month. The massive support of the Scottish public, which surged only a few short months ago and had excitable London-based commentators predicting the imminent end of the United Kingdom, has petered out. And internecine bickering which looked as if the SNP was engulfed in a civil war has left her once super-confident activists looking ill at ease and unsure of where their leader is taking them.
It is true that she still wins plaudits from many for her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic; but even here the gloss which she acquired over much of the last year for her superior communication skills has dimmed considerably. There is no doubt that it was the vaccination programme instigated, in large measure, by Boris Johnson's UK Government that has essentially won the day against the virus , rather than her preference for lockdowns and petty restrictions.
But much of the rest, in both government and party terms, is a shambles. Worst of all is the shameful fact that, on her watch, Scotland leads Europe as the country with the worst rate of deaths caused by the misuse of drugs.
She did sack the relevant minister last year but this was not a problem that suddenly leapt up without warning from the streets and closes of Dundee – the city worst affected; it had been growing steadily and disastrously for years. As First Minister, who was also a former health minister, she should have grasped the scale of the problem and, basically, "got a grip" much sooner. But she didn't, and before we knew it the issue had become an international scandal and a dreadful stain on Scotland's reputation. Nicola Sturgeon must surely be aware of that fact and of her personal responsibility for the situation we're now in.
In party terms, SNP members have watched in horror as their leaders, in the shape of Alex Salmond and Ms Sturgeon , battled each other, almost to the political death of either one of them, over the sleaziest of allegations.
Moreover, leading MPs and MSPs have shaken the support of even the most die-hard activists by their bad behaviour and, incredibly for a party which claims to operate on a higher plane than others, the SNP is being investigated by Police Scotland over what's happened to a £600,000 supposed fighting fund.
Peter Murrell, the party's chief executive and Ms Sturgeon's chief confidante – as well as being her husband – is expected to be interviewed in relation to this allegedly missing sum.
The couple have been much criticised for their total control of the entire party and while Mr Murrell has never been much of a public figure, of late he's become almost subterranean. Nevertheless, he remains the mastermind of the party's annual conference , due to be held for three days from September 10. And just so party dissidents don't get too much opportunity to cause trouble it will be a virtual, on-line, event, with Mr Murrell having the last word on who gets to speak.
On Tuesday, we heard details of what's been hailed as Ms Sturgeon's "Freedom Day" and if ever there was a misnomer this was it. This lady who's had total control of all of our lives for the best part of 18 months wasn't about to give it all back.
Its aim was to take Scotland "Beyond Level Zero", which made it sound a bit like a B-movie. And the reality more than backed up that impression.
For instance, some restrictions are to be eased in in the most astonishing way. Punters won't have to wear masks if they're standing at the bar … but only if they're drinking their pints. If they stop supping, even for a breath of air, they'll have to put the mask back on.
And even the First Minister couldn't answer Labour MSP Pauline McNeill's question about whether nightclubbers would have to wear masks on the dance floor. That would definitely make for an interesting night out.
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