Just two sleeps to go. Only 48 hours until the first witness gives her evidence to the Salmond Inquiry. Can our breath be any more bated?
This is, after all, the Holyrood investigation into how the Scottish Government’s most senior ministers and their civil servants first responded to allegations of sexual assault and harassment levelled at Alex Salmond.
He denied the claims, dating to when he was First Minister, when they were made and he denied them in the High Court earlier this year when a jury decided that, whatever words could be used to describe his behaviour towards young women on his staff, criminal was not one of them and cleared him on all 13 charges.
That was, of course, to be the trial of the century, a court case to transform Scotland, ripping through the party of government, pitting nationalist against nationalist, and threatening to bring down Mr Salmond’s successor, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as the corridors of power rumbled and shook.
It didn’t but the predictions of political mayhem, of SNP tribes going to war, of high-profile careers ending in ignominy, are now being heaped high on the tumbrils again as the Salmond Inquiry begins in earnest. And maybe it will happen this time but, really, you would not bet your bottom dollar on it.
Mr Salmond believes the initial inquiry by civil servants was a politically-motivated stitch-up, a conspiracy to block his return to politics, and, certainly, the Court of Session awarded him some comfort and a large cheque, signed by taxpayers, naturally, last year when judges said the investigation was “tainted by apparent bias”.
There are many questions for ministers and civil servants to answer, starting with permanent secretary Leslie Evans on Tuesday. Many of them will be addressed to Ms Sturgeon herself, who will be asked what she knew, when she knew, and exactly who she spoke to after she knew.
These may be sticky moments for her and her government. Heads might even roll. But if anyone believes our current First Minister’s is likely to be one of them, then we have a terrific bridge to sell them.
After hearing the evidence, the jury made its mind up about how Mr Salmond had behaved in his long, late nights in Bute House. So did the rest of us and while it may not have been criminal, it was appalling.
The idea that, vindicated, Mr Salmond can somehow become, or engineer, a viable threat to our current First Minister is for the birds. She is, frankly, too good and too popular. She reaches voters he left cold and her performance – capable, hard-working and empathetic – during this global crisis has been instrumental in turning many soft No voters indy-curious.
You can certainly disagree with her bedrock belief in independence and criticise her government’s record, and many do, but to suggest Ms Sturgeon is not a leader and communicator of exceptional calibre is silly.
The SNP’s biggest concern should not be Nicola Sturgeon’s future after this inquiry but the future of the party, and its cause, after Nicola Sturgeon.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe