After the tears and disappointment of election night, the SNP is now embroiled in angry recriminations over who is to blame for the party's catastrophic defeat.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, some prominent figures are pointing to Nicola Sturgeon who, rather than supporting the candidates at counts in Glasgow, where she is still an SNP MSP, chose to give a running commentary on their demise in an ITV studio.

But what is more pressing politically are the questions being raised about her long serving deputy John Swinney - now of course First Minister and SNP leader.

And if he is to blame for the loss of 39 SNP seats, does it make sense for him to carry on as leader?

READ MORE: 'Too close to Sturgeon': John Swinney faces calls to resign

Speaking on Friday, Mr Swinney accepted he was responsible for the party's campaign - and by extension the heavy defeat.

However, he has given his party his 'get out clause' to avoid taking ultimate blame which usually ends with a swift resignation.

Mr Swinney has repeatedly pointed to the situation that he took up the role of SNP leader and First Minister just eight weeks ago.

He has been determined to present himself as a rather selfless figure stepping up to do his duty at a critical period for the party and one able to steady the ship.

READ MORE: SNP fury mounts with Sturgeon and Swinney in angry blame game

But others have a different interpretation.

Former health secretary Alex Neil's is that Mr Swinney was Ms Sturgeon's "cheerleader in chief", her deputy during her time as First Minister.

If people blame Ms Sturgeon's era of leadership and say the party - and government - need to move on from her period in office (as Mr Neil does), it's not credible to do that with Mr Swinney at the helm, the party veteran told us.

"He is not a fresh leader. He is associated with the Sturgeon years and the mistakes Sturgeon made. He was her chief cheerleader and implemented a lot of the daft policies that she tried to push through the parliament and of the way the party and the government was run.

"John is seen as part of the Sturgeon problem - not the answer to it."

Mr Neil has become an outspoken figure about the SNP under Ms Sturgeon since he stood down as an MSP at the Holyrood election in 2021.

Nonetheless, it doesn't make his argument wrong. The SNP may well perform better in 2026 if it changed leaders now rather than agree to Mr Swinney leading the party into that poll in 22 months.

But the mood in the party does seem to be behind the MSP for Perthshire North remaining in post. Indeed neither of the suitable candidates Mr Neil would like to succeed him appear in any mood to stand against him.

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes endorsed Mr Swinney's leadership back in May when she opted against throwing her hat into the ring and spark a new contest, while the party's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has just been re-elected as MP for Aberdeen South but with much reduced majority.

Both are in favour of Mr Swinney remaining as leader for now anyway.

The apparent lack of a suitable replacement for Mr Swinney was a point made by Mr Flynn's predecessor as the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford in an interview on Sunday.

Asked if Mr Swinney would be able to turn the party’s fortunes around, he said: “Time will tell but there isn’t really anybody else, so he’s the man for it.”

It's hardly a glowing endorsement of Mr Swinney's leadership.

But with such resistance to change, the party is likely to face an uphill battle in 22 months at the Holyrood election.