Here in front of you is a pile of stones. Please, if you have a clear conscience, take one and hurl it.

If you have never slagged off a colleague, cast doubt on the promotion of one of your peers, expressed frustration about some nonsense work issue you don't agree with, questioned a management decision or criticised a rival, do grab yourself a rock and chuck it with abandon.

Well, it looks like that pile remains undiminished. And no wonder. The employee who can claim to have done none of the above is some sort of angel. A really boring, goody-two-shoes angel. Or a liar. Probably the latter.

The story about SNP drugs and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham did only two things: have me nod along with fellow feeling and then shudder in horror.

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In leaked WhatsApp messages passed to the Daily Record newspaper, Ms Whitham called her colleague Shona Robison a "cold fish" and suggested she might work on her oratory skills.

"Painful to listen to," she said of the then-Social Justice Cabinet Secretary.

Of Angus Robertson, known to be a man with tickets for himself, she said "the ego has landed". On Tory MSP Brian Whittle, she had a slightly saltier view, writing: “F*** me. Whittle is a p****.”

Quite rightly, on the case of Patrick Grady, the SNP MP found to have sexually harassed a teenage staff member, she criticised the party's handling of the incident. "Honestly why didn't we act?" Why indeed.

She commented on leaked recordings of senior SNP figures at Westminster with "Who is recording group meetings?!" Were we discussing a TV drama, and, yes, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference, that would be known as foreshadowing.

I wish Elena Whitham hadn't felt the need to apologise. I wish she had merely stood by her comments. Veritas, is it not?

But no, the MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley professed to be chastened by the incident and posted an apology on Twitter. Shame. The messages made me like her.

Ms Whitham comes across as personable, human and bang on the money. She comes across, moreover, as someone speaking their mind freely in the belief they are in the safe company of peers.

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But, in light of such betrayal, perhaps it's not sensible to ever believe oneself safe in the company of peers when those peers are politically motivated.

In some beautiful prissy outrage from other quarters of the press Ms Whitham's messages were deemed "foul-mouthed". Not that they weren't, more ... so what?

They were not messages influencing the course of business, they were not skullduggerous or scandalous. They were a colleague talking (she thought) privately to other colleagues (she thought) she could trust.

Let's hope Ms Whitham is now on a Wagatha Christie-style hunt for truth and, in the coming days, we are to witness a social media reveal of the culprit. Perhaps, as in the Colleen Rooney vs Rebekah Vardy footballer's wives saga, someone's phone will end up in Davey Jones's locker and we'll have barristers seriously disputing the meaning of emojis.

One can dream.

Much has been made of the fact that this leak speaks to disarray in the SNP. Whoever passed on these very ordinary messages as though they might result in a scalping has really misread the room.

It was a classless move, this petty betrayal, and serves nothing but as an own goal. The incident doesn't make Elena Whitham bad, it makes the party look small and silly and easily scandalised.

Like "Nats in a sack" said the Tory MSP Craig Hoy, parroting the words Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservatives leader, used to describe the SNP leadership race earlier this year.

The spat is so minor that even the opposition can't be bothered coming up with something new to say about the ongoing ructions in the party. Or maybe the opposition just doesn't have the imaginative dexterity to come up with something new. Perhaps both are true.

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The Matt Hancock and Isabel Oakeshott affair earlier this year really served to bring the importance of the messaging platform to modern politics into the light.

Hancock, who resigned as health secretary during the pandemic, handed a huge cache of WhatsApp messages to his memoir's co-author and she, in turn, handed them straight to the press.

At least Oakeshott took responsibility and stabbed Hancock, if not in the front, then in the side. Unlike our anonymous SNP leaker.

This lead to the discussion around what sort of informal communications should be provided to Baroness Hallet's official UK Covid-19 Inquiry and the ongoing stooshie over Boris Johnson's covid WhatsApp messages.

With politicians criticised for "government by WhatsApp", it was inevitable that WhatsApp leaks and WhatsApp legitimacy would become essential talking points.

In Boris Johnson's case - a forgotten PIN code, a change of phone - and in the development of features that allow for the automatic deletion of messages, it is also inevitable that there would be questions about appropriate processing and holding of information.

WhatsApp is straightforward to use, it allows for group chats as well as individual messaging and its promise of end-to-end encryption gives a sense of privacy.

The problem with convenience and speed - especially 24/7 - is that these things lend themselves too easily to the blending of the professional and personal; not only in content but in style of content.

The Institute for Government has criticised WhatsApp use for making record keeping difficult and incomplete and for undermining transparency.

Pre-smartphone technology, exchanges or messages were written, recorded or minuted. Off the record conversations were given legitimacy by the understanding that the person giving the briefing would stand by it, if push came to shove.

Smartphones have changed the way we all communicate and, in politics, it's lead to a greater degree of informality. That's not to say that whispered conversations and indiscreet revelations haven't always taken place but they would have happened in person, in the corridors of power and in the bars.

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Now they happen at a greatly increased volume and pace across a much wider virtual space than in more limited physical spaces. When previously two people would have to bend their heads together and whisper, now they can virtually whisper from a constituency in Aberdeen to a colleague in Aldershot.

Whether it is encryption or automatic delete functions, the notion of privacy is a fallacy, of course, when there are two or more people with sight of information.

WhatsApp is now the most common platform of communication between mandarins, ministers and journalists - for official business and gossip and everything in between.

Scandals about leaked messages bring what was once behind-the-scenes machinations into the public, not un-ironically, given those who argue that WhatsApp is a danger to the business of government are concerned with transparency and accountability.

There are big questions to be asked and answered about the future of WhatsApp use in politics.

Meanwhile, some formality is necessary in professional conduct and it would be wise for politicians to remember it. But there's an obvious clear line between the personal and the professional, and even politicians should be able to share an unguarded comment on their colleagues without it being front page news.

Let me point you again to that pile of stones.