“I answered questions for eight hours” used to be one of Nicola Sturgeon’s catchphrases, intended to demonstrate transparency and innocence in the context of a Holyrood committee’s inquiry into the handling of allegations against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.

In fact, it confirmed no such thing – just that she could talk a lot without saying much and remembering even less. One expects Police Scotland’s use of a similar period of interrogatory time to have been more focused than the valiant efforts of MSPs. The nation holds its breath.

On Friday, Ms Sturgeon’s own anointed successor, Humza Yousaf, could not resist comment on the Boris Johnson strop. He tweeted: “People are struggling just to get by and put food on the table” but “instead of tackling the cost of living crisis, Westminster is consumed with this third-rate political soap opera”.

Whatever the validity of this analysis, it is difficult to think of anyone less qualified to deliver it than Mr Yousaf. As Mark Twain put it: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”. If Mr Yousaf presumed that the SNP’s own update of Take the High Road had run its course, he was soon to be rudely awakened. We’re only halfway through the first series and “the cost of living crisis” or other matters of pressing concern seem far removed from the central plot.

Holyrood, like Westminster, is paralysed by a psycho-drama that will run and run. We need two elections, not one, in order to clean out the stables and offer the prospects of something better.

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By Sunday morning, Mr Yousaf was on television, threatening that the SNP would “make life very difficult” for Labour if it become a minority government of the United Kingdom after next year’s General Election. The malign significance of that priority, amidst all that is going on, should not be lost amidst the general hubris.

I hope that, just as in 1997, people in all parts of the United Kingdom will vote overwhelmingly for change next year. That will not take the form of constitutional upheaval for which, as even Mr Yousaf admitted, there is no current mood, far less majority. So the best he can offer Scotland is to “make life very difficult” for those capable of delivering change.

In practical terms, it is nonsensical. There is not the slightest possibility of an incoming Labour government yielding to the demand for an independence referendum. At that point, Mr Yousaf and his friends would have neither power nor influence – just as at present. Their sole purpose each week would be to “make life very difficult” for a Labour government.

At least that prospectus offers Scottish voters who genuinely want to see the Tories defeated next year a clear choice. They can vote for the only party capable of delivering that outcome and forming a radically different kind of government for the whole UK. Or they can endorse a rabble whose purpose is to undermine a Labour government from day one.

Doubtless, there is a substantial minority within Scotland who prefer the latter option and if the outcome was to get a Tory government restored as quickly as possible, so much the better. Then the same script of grievance, betrayal and “a government Scotland didn’t vote for” could begin all over again. But they are a minority.

The critical question is how many voters will be prepared to park the constitutional question and acknowledge there are far more immediate challenges to be answered. One of these should be: “How much better and competently could Scotland be run if we had two governments working in harmony, rather than as sworn adversaries”?

By far the best way to counter Mr Yousaf’s miserable threat is to ensure he and his Westminster rump are never in a position to implement it. We have been warned. It is one thing for Mhairi Black to mouth off in her ignorance about there being no difference between Labour and Tory governments. Mr Yousaf’s declared strategy has to be taken more seriously, in order to reject it.

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He has given Labour a message which should be rammed home from now to polling day – that the only meaningful way to secure a change of government is to vote for the one political party which is capable of delivering it. And that is as true in Glasgow as it is in Newcastle or Liverpool.

Incidentally, Mr Yousaf confirmed his separation from reality in the same interview by declaring there is no case for the Scottish Government to pay compensation to those who have been misled into spending very large sums on a Deposit Return Scheme. As with other matters, that will be for the courts to decide, rather than the wishful thinking of a politician.

In contrast, I was pleased to hear Rachel Reeves talking sense about not committing to spending £28 billion a year from day one of a Labour government on the energy transition. Far from downgrading that priority, it sounded like a serious Shadow Chancellor preparing for the reality of government, just as in the 1990s, rather than the transient luxury of undeliverable promises.

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It is the commitment and strategy that matter, far more than precise figures plucked from thin air. In Scotland, we have been particularly used to inflated promises about what energy transition will bring in terms of jobs and investment. Hardly any of it has actually been delivered, so what’s the use of that?

Until a government is in the door, it does not know what it has to spend on anything. The only beneficiaries of putting numbers on grand plans are those whose job it is to discredit them. It is what a Labour government would deliver over the lifetime of a Parliament in terms of energy transition and much else that it should be judged by.

These will be tough challenges, as they always have been for incoming Labour governments. By comparison, Mr Yousaf’s threat is a cry of irrelevance.

Brian Wilson is a former Labour Party politician. He was MP for Cunninghame North from 1987 until 2005 and served as a Minister of State from 1997 to 2003.