The SNP must get down on its knees each morning and thank the Fates for the Conservative Government.

For many a long year, it’s been a wearying fact of Scottish political life, as true and sure as the Pole Star, that the Tories provide endless cover for the failures and deceits of the SNP.

Covid, from the start of the pandemic until today, is a case study in this egregious sleight of hand. As the disease gripped the nation, Tory mayhem and the chaos of the Johnson administration took the heat off what Nicola Sturgeon’s Government was up to: namely transferring untested patients from hospitals to care homes, a decision which may well have caused the deaths of many elderly folk, in lonely and desperate conditions.

Nicola Sturgeon’s slick presentation skills at Covid press conferences made her seem stellar in comparison to Boris Johnson’s lethal, bumbling idiocy. Style, however, doesn’t mean substance, as Scotland learned the hard way.

Read more: Sturgeon, SNP and missing Covid messages... Something is rotten here

Today, the stink from the UK Covid Inquiry, as it recounts the callous, venal behaviour of the Conservative Government, and the truly hellish disregard Boris Johnson paid to the lives of British citizens, occludes the rot within the SNP when it comes to the Scottish Government and how it acted during the pandemic.

With fitting irony, WhatsApp is the undoing of both governments. WhatsApp messages have told us how disgracefully the UK Government acted; while transparency around SNP Government WhatsApp messages teach a lesson in political contempt for the Scottish people.

How else to describe the behaviour of Nicola Sturgeon, other than contempt? Our Former First Minister refuses to say whether or not she deleted WhatsApp messages.

In August 2021, she took a rather high-handed tone with Channel 4’s Ciaran Jenkins when he asked: “Can you guarantee to the bereaved families that you will disclose emails, WhatsApps, private emails if you’ve been using them? Whatever. That nothing will be off limits.”

Mocking the media is one of the former FM’s strengths. Foxes don’t like gamekeepers, after all.  Sturgeon assured Jenkins she would, indeed, hand over everything, then declared that she wished for “every appropriate lesson that we’ve gone through to be learned”.

Her wish may quite likely perish due to her underhand behaviour. Her sleekit slipperiness is destroying what remains of her tattered reputation and insipid legacy. Just deserts, some might say.

The current scandal - and that’s what this is - centres on submissions by Scottish Government ministers to the UK Covid Inquiry. Now, when asked about WhatsApp messages, Sturgeon refuses to answer. She claims she’d be in breach of confidentiality obligations to the inquiry if she disclosed what evidence she’d handed over.

Sturgeon’s claims are rendered absurd by the fact that Humza Yousaf says he’s kept all his WhatsApp messages, and is providing them to the inquiry. However, Yousaf has only added more confusion by also stating that Scottish Government policy was to “routinely delete WhatsApp messages”.

So he kept his messages, even though he should have deleted them, and Sturgeon won’t say what she’s done. It’s befuddling, right? Given such fog, it’s entirely fair to feel that what’s going on seems designed to blind voters.

Kate Forbes has also stated publicly that she’s retained her WhatsApp messages.

Scales have fallen from many eyes when it comes to Nicola Sturgeon, but one matter remains true: she’s no fool. She’s very clever. Intellectually, she can dance rings round most folk.

Read more: So why can't Nicola Sturgeon stay out of the limelight?

So let’s give credit where it’s due. A woman of such intelligence must know precisely how her actions can be viewed. We’re in the midst of a UK Covid Inquiry unfolding like a horror movie. It paints a picture of a London Government that’s cruel, stupid, parasitical, sociopathic, and betrays the very notion of public service.

Against such a backdrop, how on earth could Sturgeon’s behaviour be seen as anything other than sinister? What seems to cement this suspicion is that her actions destroy the remnants of her legacy - something she’s said to be very precious about. Why would a woman so concerned with her place in history behave in such a way, at such a time? She almost begs the public to leap to unpleasant conclusions.

There are many families out there in Scotland who lost loved ones to Covid. The entire nation went through agony. For Sturgeon to behave as she does spits in the face of Scotland. She shows utter contempt for voters and democracy. Her fall from grace is vertiginous.

To compound her sins - and these are sins - her actions undermine the Government she left behind. Yousaf leads a zombified administration, assailed on every side and failing daily. Yet Sturgeon hovers in the background, Banquo-like, tarnishing the SNP with her every move. She drives nails into the coffin of a government that ceased breathing long ago.

Yet nationalists still worship her. When news first emerged of Sturgeon and her WhatsApp messages, the base did what the base does best: circle the wagons and start shooting. It was all lies, they screamed, how could anyone doubt Nicola Sturgeon?

The SNP’s base can be sickeningly Trumpian. Trump once boasted he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care less. Likewise, there seems no fault, no failure, no sin nor shame which the SNP base will not defend, excuse or ignore.

Read more: Arrest: Good enough for Sturgeon? Then good enough for Johnson

When the epitaph of the SNP is finally written - and that day is coming sooner rather than later - it will read: "A once successful party killed by its own supporters." SNP leaders like Sturgeon were deified by their base, and so her government came to believe it embodied Scotland.

Nemesis follows hubris, as we know. Scotland is a democracy, and a lively and vibrant one at that. Politicians cannot do as they please and escape our wrath. Sturgeon’s reputation is in tatters, her legacy is limping toward the grave along with the electoral hopes of the party she once lead.

When the history books are written, the summary of both governments will be clear. The Tories were monstrous, cruel and disgusting. The SNP was sleekit, rotten and overweening. In the end, both were failures. But none of that means anything to the dead, or the loved ones of the dead, does it?