First, the good news. We’ve dodged Ash Regan building an "independence thermometer" in George Square. More seriously, we’ve also dodged the ugly, and dangerous, culture war that would have erupted if Kate Forbes had been elected.

The "best" candidate won. Though that’s not to say a "great candidate" won. In fact, a merely passable candidate won; the "least worst". Humza Yousaf’s record in government bears testament to that. But he’s not an erratic Brexiter-style populist like Regan, nor a social conservative, with a hefty strain of economic conservatism, like Forbes. He’s a progressive centrist. It’s also good to see a person of colour in charge.

And that’s the end of the good news … especially for the SNP.

Read more: SNP may be done, but independence is worth fighting for

It’s become something of a cliché to style Yousaf as the "continuity candidate", and it’s true that he’s built from the same mould as his mentor Nicola Sturgeon. However, there’s nothing of "continuity" about this election. And therein lies the first of the agonies ahead for Mr Yousaf and his party.

The party which went into this election isn’t the same party, in the eyes of voters, which emerged. Continuity, in that sense, has been broken. The party did indeed enter the contest as a disciplined and progressive force. It’s emerged as a rabble with no unifying ethos.

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The central problem for the SNP is that the mask has slipped. The curtain has fallen aside. The stone has been lifted. And many don’t like what they’ve seen.

This contest has been an acid bath for the SNP. Any notion that it was a progressive left-of-centre party has turned to sludge. How can Mr Yousaf now claim to lead a progressive party, when the party has so many members who would have accepted the social and financial conservatism of Ms Forbes? Or even the hardcore who would have followed a populist like Ms Regan?

In its soul the SNP now stands for nothing but independence. That’s not enough. The SNP has around 72,000 members. Of those, 50,000 voted in this leadership race. However, in 2021 the SNP got 1.3 million constituency votes. Those people weren’t just voting for independence, they were voting for the progressive vision that Nicola Sturgeon projected.

Ms Sturgeon could project that progressive vision as the party’s dirty little secrets had been kept well locked up in the attic – like the mad relative you want nobody to see. She wouldn’t have been seen as the leader of a progressive party if she’d emerged from an election contest with the likes of Ms Forbes and Ms Regan. Ms Sturgeon would have been seen as a progressive at the helm of a thoroughly-divided party which had no unifying ideology beyond independence.

Read more: Just how much lower can this SNP rabble sink?

And that’s unfortunately where Mr Yousaf finds himself today. Yes, he is indeed a progressive. But his party isn’t. Behind the progressive Yousaf, there are serried ranks of social conservatives and populists. So what, it’s fair to ask, might happen if you vote for Me Yousaf’s SNP, but like Ms Sturgeon he one day departs … leaving you with what? The party of Forbes or Regan?

So there will be voter flight. Clearly, not as catastrophic as there would have been in the event of a Forbes or Regan victory, but what’s been seen this last month will have deterred many from trusting the SNP again. This will become Mr Yousaf’s greatest burden: he can no longer take progressive voters for granted, as Ms Sturgeon did.

Second agony: the new FM will also have to deal with a split party. The divisions and animosity on display won’t suddenly disappear. The SNP’s phoney unity has evaporated and it will never be fully regained. He will now have to contend with being sniped at by his internal enemies in a way Ms Sturgeon never faced.

Can he bring the party together? Nothing is impossible, but venom has been spat. The Alba infection remains strong. There are many members – including some in office – who should have departed to Alex Salmond’s vanity vehicle. They’ve simply been emboldened during this contest and won’t make Mr Yousaf’s life easy.

So we’ve trouble in store for the SNP in terms of its progressive image among the electorate, and trouble internally thanks to the nastiness of the campaign – though it must be stressed little nastiness came from the Yousaf camp, again underscoring the notion that the "best" candidate won, if best is here interpreted as "decent" rather than "competent’"

Competency takes us to our third agony for the new leader: governing. He’s tarnished with the failures of Ms Sturgeon’s administration. After the 2014 referendum, the SNP could coast on the goodwill of supporters. That’s long worn off. There’s nobody of any credibility who would now praise the SNP’s history of governance. 

Ms Sturgeon was lucky. Time was on her side. But SNP gold has turned to rust, so Ms Yousaf has nowhere to hide. It seems he rests his hopes for independence on building a sustained Yes majority among undecided voters. That can only be done through good government.

Read more: SNP is pushing progressive voters into the arms of Labour

Of course, independence is the fourth agony for Mr Yousaf. The case for independence has gone precisely nowhere in nine years. What’s he going to do in this foggy bog that’s now the SNP, that Ms Sturgeon couldn’t do? She had hope, momentum, goodwill and unity on her side for years and still achieved zilch.

At least Mr Yousaf doesn’t need to worry about the pact with the Greens. That will stay. Not that many people outside Holyrood care. So, he’s safe in terms of managing the day-to-day job at the Scottish Parliament.

There is, of course, one way the new First Minister could really achieve reset, and that’s by calling a snap election. He’s even flirted with that idea himself. Calling, and crucially winning, an election would give Mr Yousaf his own mandate. He could get out from under Ms Sturgeon’s shadow, enforce his authority on a divided team, and convince a troubled electorate that he does indeed lead a progressive party. It would also be the moral course of action. The SNP continually calls for elections when Tories install leaders at Westminster. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Finally, what of Scotland? Well, our agonies remain much the same. We're precisely where we were: divided and going nowhere.