FOR several years now, the SNP has been building a nomenclature signifying betrayal. Included in it are terms such as Red Tories, Yoons and Soup-takers. This has been reinforced by the party’s professional actors at Westminster.

In the absence of any defined strategy for securing a referendum on independence, they devised a simplistic choreography. This mainly involved shouting about “standing up for Scotland” and waving their arms around a lot.

By inference, opposition politicians belonging to Scottish Labour and the Scottish Tories stood accused of “betraying Scotland” for not being sufficiently loud or active in condemning the Westminster Government. Any dissenting voices from inside the Yes movement were called traitors. The infantile “Wheesht for indy” phrase began to proliferate. Instead, it ought to have been “blow the whistle for indy”.

If a few more SNP politicians and their advisors had joined politicians such as Joanna Cherry and Ash Regan in seeking to shine a light on the sewer running beneath the party’s leadership, the apocalypse which has engulfed it these last two months might have been averted.

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If you’re looking for those who have betrayed Scotland and the Scottish people, look no further than the clown-show masquerading as the party’s ruling executive and its Westminster and Holyrood groups since around 2015. They were all entrusted with the hopes and dreams of three generations of independence supporters, all of whom had devoted their lives to getting them into their Holyrood and Westminster careers.

It soon became obvious from around then that Nicola Sturgeon and her party acolytes were intent on loading the NEC with political knuckle-draggers and goons, characterised by their viciousness and malevolence in targeting those deemed to be veering off-message. It’s why Ms Cherry felt she had no option but to quit her place on the NEC and why others left the party entirely. To paraphrase the wonderful Monica Bellucci in the James Bond film Spectre: doing business with this mob was “crossing over to a place where there is no mercy”.

There are still some deluded souls within the party who cling to the belief that if no charges result from the police investigation into the SNP finances it means that we can all get back to “standing up for Scotland” and demanding referendums. Someone needs to sit them down with a cup of sugary tea and tell them that the SNP, in its current form, is finished and that Scottish independence won’t be happening before another generation has passed.

If there is any consolation to be had from this stark reality it’s that a very large chorus-line of impostors and chancers at Westminster and Holyrood will be turfed out too. You’re tempted to describe them as a minority of the 109 elected members in both these jurisdictions, but that’s debatable.

And speaking as a member of the reviled Mainstream Media, can I just say a big thank you on behalf of us all for reviving the Scottish newspaper trade. If I were an editor I’d be giving serious consideration to appointing a specialist SNP crisis correspondent on a five-year contract.

Few of us who’ve had a ringside seat at the ruination of this party will forget where we were as some of these tales have unfolded. Scotland now has its very own “were you up for Portillo” moment thanks to “the lifting of old Mrs Murrell’s camper van”.

More serious are those stories which we’d all heard about (and always denied) which are now being brought into the light; the soiled booty from a sinking ship. They include the extent to which the leadership tried to suppress questions about missing funds; the millions in public money given to a billionaire steel magnate and the inability of the entire leadership to define what a woman is.

And, almost forgotten now, the way that Ms Sturgeon and her cult followers deliberately jeopardised the safety of vulnerable women in Scotland’s prison estate by permitting rapists to be placed among them. For the avoidance of any doubt here, rapists can only be male.

You’re almost tempted to feel sorry for Humza Yousaf as he inherits this cataclysm. And then you remember that he’s been at the centre of it all as the chosen one to maintain the machinery and keep all the bad actors in gainful employment. He dutifully showed his gratitude by unveiling a ministry that, in political terms, resembles a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

The SNP has a very slim chance of redeeming itself, but this must happen quickly. Few now believe Nicola Sturgeon’s reasons for suddenly resigning and even fewer think that Mr Yousaf would be First Minister if the events of the last week had unfolded before or during the leadership election.

As such, there must be a re-staging of that contest, or else it will be tainted forever by what has followed it. There are valid grounds for saying that the entire contest was run under false pretences.

We know that senior individuals in the party’s back office went to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of its transactions and to menace those who insisted on asking them. And we also know that the same operation swung into action behind Mr Yousaf’s candidacy, and for reasons which have now become obvious.

Both Mr Yousaf’s opponents, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, had pledged to conduct a root and branch clear-out of personnel and to reform the governances which had permitted this chaos to proceed unhindered. Mr Yousaf on the other hand was the one candidate who stood to gain by saying “nothing to see here”.

On the evidence of what we witnessed during that contest the next one should be conducted under close scrutiny by UN election monitors. It started with the rank stupidity of MSP Emma Harper using a party email to urge support for Mr Yousaf before we discovered the executive had lied about membership numbers.

Then there was the revelation that Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff was secretly working for Mr Yousaf’s campaign and had attempted to force Kate Forbes not to stand. We also know that much of the bigoted bullying she encountered at the start of the campaign was orchestrated in part by forces within her own party.

The sprawling and unaccountable infrastructure built by the Sturgeon regime has done more damage to the Yes cause than all the Unionist parties combined. They have lost the trust of the people of Scotland and deserve to be removed from national politics. Only Kate Forbes as leader and Ash Regan as her deputy can begin to restore that trust.