That we never properly understand something until it’s considered in hindsight, has rarely been more evident than with the misogyny, in all its forms and degrees, that has accompanied public discussion over Nicola Sturgeon throughout her career.

The expected appearance of the former first minister before the Scottish leg of the Covid enquiry tomorrow is the latest pretext used by some commentators, opposition politicians and others in the serried ranks of Nicola haters, to dust down their assorted sexist tropes and cyphers for a renewed public airing.

When the unremittingly negative personal, and often hateful, attacks on Ms Sturgeon were a routine part of the daily grind of what passes for political commentary in some quarters, it could be argued that one’s senses became somewhat inured to them.

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Their sudden re-emergence following a period of calm, when she hasn’t featured in the news and comment pages or in online chats and forums for a while, serves as a reminder of why this malign treatment of a politician - or any human being for that matter - should not be the norm.

When a leader is deposed or steps down from office, it’s usual for the media to begin the process of generating the first draft of history around that person’s achievements, or lack of them, during their career.

The legacy of Thatcher was framed around the Falklands conflict, the miners’ strike and the destruction of communities that were dependent on traditional industries. With Tony Blair, it was his ill-judged decision to go to war in Iraq.

Schoolchildren studying history in a decade or two are likely to learn about the "myth of St Nicola", that she was "smug", "sleekit" and "hypocritical". They will discover she often wore high heels, that she couldn’t have children, and that she could be a bit of a "nippy sweetie".

They might even learn that the end of her premiership coincided with a police investigation into the finances of the party she led, but that she was ultimately found entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. They may not, depending on what evidence, if any, is eventually made public.

But what they will certainly see is that, for the period of the investigation, certain sections of the media had already made up their minds that she must be guilty of something.

Only those who study Scottish history at an advanced level are likely to discover anything about her record in office, the policies she pursued and what impact they had on Scottish society and its economy.

If they do, they will see that, for all Ms Sturgeon’s popularity with voters for almost a decade, and her dominance of the political scene in Scotland, she presided over a period of decline in education standards and in the quality of healthcare provision.

They will also read about how she failed to advance the cause of independence, despite a growing demand during her time in office, and that, towards the end, she focussed obsessively and destructively on a divisive and unpopular gender recognition bill.

But until now, among her political opponents, none of that has seemed to be as important as engaging in often highly personal, hateful, and misogynistic attacks.

They range from coded, dog-whistle observations that would never be made about a male politician, to the hostile and outright vitriolic.

What is noticeable, and remarkable, is that they have continued, unremittingly, throughout her entire political journey.

In the beginning they came principally from Conservative politicians like Boris Johnson - who quipped, of her leadership of Scotland, "you wouldn't get Herod to run a baby farm, would you?" - and their cheerleaders in the Tory-supporting press, where she was variously described as "Little Miss McHypocrite" and "the most dangerous wee woman in Scotland".

Jeremy Clarkson, who wouldn’t know nuance if it battered him over the head with a shovel, was rebuked by the Independent Press Standards Organisation for a column in which he professed to hating the Duchess of Sussex, "not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West". She was photoshopped in the Sun as Miley Cyrus, astride a wrecking ball, complete with skimpy tartan crop top and knickers, under the headline Tartan Barmy. The paper’s political commentator Trevor Kavanagh wrote: “Nicola Sturgeon may wear high heels and a short skirt, but she eats her partners alive."

The Herald: Jeremy Clarkson wrote that he hated Nicola Sturgeon Jeremy Clarkson wrote that he hated Nicola Sturgeon (Image: PA)

The same misogyny was perpetrated within her own party, among those who blamed her for her predecessor and mentor Alex Salmond’s fall from grace.

I have SNP-supporting friends who genuinely believe that she orchestrated a coup against Mr Salmond, which included convincing nine women to make untruthful and groundless allegations of attempted rape, sexual assault, and indecent assault against him.

He was cleared of all allegations following a nine-day High Court trial, which they regard as vindication of the failure of the supposed plot, rather than accept that one or more of the complainants may have come forward of their own volition to describe events that the jury decided didn’t amount to criminality.

I have been to dinner parties where I have heard professional people, including a senior advocate, repeat outlandish online rumours about a non-existent lesbian affair between Ms Sturgeon and Judy Murray, the tennis coach mother of Andy Murray.

Various iterations of the same urban legend - which mirror the infamous QAnon conspiracy theory of Hillary Clinton’s supposed child sex-trafficking exploits in the basement of a Washington pizzeria - have the pair meeting for secret trysts at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, and that Ms Sturgeon purchased Ms Murray’s former home near Stirling to use as a love nest.

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To her credit, the former first minister has the humour to laugh off such clearly baseless internet rumours - which also claim that she is involved in a secret lesbian affair with a French diplomat and that she is protected by a super-injunction to prevent the media from reporting on her personal life.

Less amusing is the more insidious drip-drip of loaded and coded language, designed to reinforce the notion that a woman politician must be judged, primarily, on her appearance and personality rather than on her ability to do the job.

If and when another woman decides to put herself in the firing line as a potential first minister, I hope that we have progressed as a nation in terms of our collective maturity and tolerance of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.