IT is an old fogey of an institution in so many ways, but when it comes to organising the succession the British royal family makes the sharpest headhunting firm look like children playing pin the tail on the donkey.

The forward planning was only too evident this week when Charles and Camilla joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to open a medical rehabilitation centre in Nottinghamshire.

Dubbed “the new fab four” by some newspapers, as opposed to the old Beatles, two members of which have split and gone to Canada, the planned succession was clear: next it would be Charles, then William, and so on.

Charles and William appear sorted. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel thought she had set up a smooth transition by steering Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer into the leadership of the CDU, only for AKK to step down this week after one too many mistakes. In Russia, Vladimir Putin continues to rewrite the rule book on succession to ensure his reign as the last Tsar goes on for as long as he wishes.

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In the fictional world of HBO’s Succession, viewers are rapt at the goings on in the Roy family as the media mogul patriarch, played by Brian Cox, pits his warring offspring against each other.

Thoughts of succession are everywhere except, it seems, with a certain Scottish institution of relatively long standing: the SNP. It is preparing for LAN, life after Nicola, by behaving as though the possibility is as remote as an asteroid hitting earth. Look how well that worked out for the dinosaurs.

There is no prospect of a vacancy in the short or medium term, but if events of the last week have shown anything it is that the party, and by association its leader, is no longer invulnerable.

The laws of political gravity, that what goes up does not stay there forever, have been seen to apply to the SNP just as they once did to Scottish Labour and others.

In part the problem is one of longevity. Governments have natural shelf lives, and to have been in power for 13 years and still be as high in the opinion polls as the SNP is nothing short of astonishing. The SNP Government is not stumbling from disaster to calamity and on to oblivion like John Major’s administration. There has been no single shock powerful enough to catapult the party out of power.

Rather, the party has suffered a series of blows, in education, the health service, the Derek Mackay scandal, and wider. Any government can suffer a run of bad luck, but at what point does misfortune begin to look self-inflicted?

A failure to plan ahead, to take action in good time, to even acknowledge the extent of the problems: the SNP Government looks culpable on several counts. If there is such a thing as the anti-Midas touch, the Scottish Government has it at the moment.

Its opponents in Scotland sense as much, but such is their general uselessness they pose little to no threat. In London, Boris Johnson is making goading Scotland a central part of his buffoonish repertoire. It costs him nothing and it plays well to his gallery. On Tuesday, there were reports of peace breaking out between the PM and the FM over the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November. Yesterday, word leaked to the Financial Times that Number 10 was looking into booking another venue in London just in case Glasgow became too expensive or arrangements took a turn for the “chaotic”. Not very friendly.

Relying on Mr Johnson to make the summit an unqualified success would be to play the frog to Number 10’s scorpion. It is in the man’s nature to sting: he cannot help it, even if he wanted to.

If it was only opponents in other parties Ms Sturgeon had to concern herself with, she need not hesitate for a moment in buying a new five year diary. But there are troubles building in her own ranks as she struggles to hold the line between what has been promised on a second referendum, and what is possible, legal, and credible. Her troops have been marched up and down the hill so often they might as well ask for a ski lift to save their legs next time.

Ranks are being broken, in ever bolder fashion. On the Politics Home website yesterday, SNP MP Angus MacNeil MP accused his own Government of dithering over a Section 30 request.

“That will be a hard sentence for many of my colleagues to read but dither it was,” he wrote.

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He went on to claim the leadership was doing the same over fellow MP Joanna Cherry’s plan to test the legality of a consultative referendum in the courts. While the identities of those lobbying the FM so openly over a second referendum comes as no surprise, that it should happen now, a week on from the Mackay scandal, is hardly a sign of a united party. They should be circling the wagons around the leader, not adding to the pressure on her.

Ms Sturgeon’s other options, including issuing white papers and lobbying for support in Brussels and across Europe, increasingly look like “busy work”, doing things just to fill the time.

As for her wider task, of persuading wavering No voters into the Yes camp, that is a job with no obvious end in sight. It is a task, moreover, that is up against that most lethal of opponents: public boredom.

There is one other factor to be considered in any Sturgeon succession, and that is the woman herself. At just 49 years old, she has plenty of years of working life ahead of her. Lots of time for another big job, or several. She has a national and international profile, with experience in the US and Europe.

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Her standing in the climate change debate can only be strengthened by the coming summit. Faced with a choice of seeing what is out there, or staying put and facing years more slog for ever diminishing returns, what would you do?

There is, to repeat, no vacancy at the top, but if one should arise the SNP would be in trouble. Part of being a leader is ensuring succession, yet few, least of all Ms Sturgeon, show any sign of having given it much thought. That will not last forever.