Since she said it twice, we can take it that Johann Lamont didn't sustain a slip of the tongue.

She wants you to believe Alex Salmond doesn't care about old, sick people being left to lie for hours on hospital trolleys.

As insults go, it was pretty raw. Not exactly beyond the political bounds, but close enough. Still, there it was: "He doesn't care." What's the usual word for someone who is utterly indifferent to suffering humanity?

Another question is more interesting. Did Ms Lamont believe what she was saying, or was it all a rehearsal for an over-cooked slogan?

"In this country, under Salmond," the Labour leader said in her last jab, "Scotland is lying on a trolley while his referendum is in intensive care."

That kind of line doesn't just pop into your head. Party leaders employ people to devise rhetoric like that. So where does that leave the accusation of SNP inhumanity?

Using those stuck in A&E for the purposes of political point-scoring might also count as a bit unedifying, after all.

The alternative view is that Ms Lamont really does regard the First Minister as unfeeling, even amoral, in his attitude towards those who depend on the NHS. If so, she needs to elaborate.

The irony was that the Labour leader had a decent line of attack based on a freedom of information request. Mr Salmond did not dispute the basic charge that more people than before are being kept waiting for longer in A&E.

Ms Lamont was also able to dismiss the explanation of "winter pressures" on the NHS on the simple grounds that the winter just ended was not nearly as bad as some. But still she chose to up the stakes.

It was more than the old "the NHS isn't safe in their hands" line. It was an attack on character. For Ms Lamont to believe it, she would have to believe that she is dealing with someone who is authentically despicable. Note only this: even Salmond's worst enemies don't generally go that far.

Endless fuss over the referendum is perhaps making us forgetful. The independence campaign isn't going as the SNP would wish. But Labour's opinion poll numbers aren't looking too clever, either.

One way or another, politics will continue after September 2014. As usual, it will be about issues such as the NHS. Perhaps someone has just reminded Ms Lamont of the fact.