Let me start with a presumption. Which is that many of you will retain, like me, fond memories of the late and very great Rikki Fulton.

I recall him as the ultimate pantomime star. But Rikki was also an accomplished dramatic performer.

And, of course, his inimitable TV shows. Do you remember the sketch when, as the Rev I.M. Jolly, he is reflecting upon the year just past? Gazing lugubriously at the audience, he intones: “I don’t know what sort of a year you’ve had. But see me, I’ve had a helluva year.”

It would be entirely understandable if our First Minister, Humza Yousaf, delivered a similar verdict upon the 12 months which have now elapsed since he took his oath of office.

However, he remains ostensibly upbeat. Cheery, even. When opponents chide and lampoon, he assures them that they are quite entitled to pursue him with vigour.

The anniversary is no exception. The Tories say the year gone by is a “tale of independence obsession, abject failures and broken promises.” Labour characterises Mr Yousaf as a “weak leader” in command of a “chaotic and divided” government.

Mr Yousaf’s response? A news release wishing everyone a Happy Easter. Duly reciprocated, FM.

OK, so that is satirical insolence from me. The First Minister also took time this week to rebut some of the criticisms levelled at him.

Perhaps the most common verdict one hears at Holyrood is that Humza Yousaf is a thoroughly decent guy – but not quite up to the job.

Read more: Brian Taylor: Tough week but Rishi Sunak will stay as PM. For now at least

Read more: Brian Taylor: Are the SNP and independence finished – or just getting started?

I must confess I am inclined to be somewhat more charitable. For one thing, there are caveats to be attached to many of the criticisms.

Yes, the hospital waiting stats are appalling. Utterly unacceptable. The numbers tell of patients in pain, of ops cancelled, of a system in turmoil.

But, as the FM regularly points out, other parts of the UK are enduring comparable challenges, with the added strain of strikes which have been avoided in Scotland.

I fervently believe that the NHS requires drastic reform. We need collective efforts to reduce demand, especially upon our hospitals. And to enhance productivity through new ways of working, including AI and robotics.

Still, it is legitimate to argue that Scotland’s problems are not unique. Plus there is a further defence for the FM to offer. The pandemic. But, by definition, the impact of that will steadily lessen. He needs better stats – and soon.

Then there is the economy. Although, once more, there are contextualising caveats.

Scotland’s economy is flatlining. However, it was confirmed this week that the UK economy as a whole was in recession at the end of 2023, although it grew fractionally over the full year. Which was of minimal comfort to fretful businesses and an anxious citizenry.

The Herald:

The First Minister cannot counter that economic trend alone. However, Humza Yousaf is open to a charge of uncertainty with regard to economic policy.

His statement at the close of the week was a faintly platitudinous promise to work for the whole of Scotland. I paid more attention to the comments he made at the outset of this anniversary week.

He said: “What drives me is fairness for all as we work to achieve better equality, greater opportunity and safer communities.”

Once again, who could dissent? But consider that word “equality”. Unless explained, it could mean equality of misery. Or mediocrity.

Now, to be entirely fair, Mr Yousaf went further. He said that his team in government had “worked with the clear aims of delivering a just society and supportive business environment.”

But is that generally accepted? Not by Third Sector organisations who say spending constraint will damage social cohesion.

And not by business organisations who feel that ministers are less than fully engaged in a collective drive for economic growth and prosperity. The Institute of Directors surveyed members in Scotland and found concern about the economy, enhanced by worries over Scottish income taxation.

Now, I hear some of you commenting “they would say that, wouldn’t they”. Aye, but they do. And I hear comparable views from a range of businesses and business organisations.

They feel they are handled in meetings with ministers and officials, rather than properly heeded. What, they ask, has happened to the Scottish Government’s ten-year programme to foster enterprise and economic growth?

Did it vanish with the departure from government of Kate Forbes, who lost out narrowly in the acerbic SNP leadership contest a year ago?

Mr Yousaf and his ministers say emphatically no. They say they have reset the relationship with business. Snag is business does not feel the difference. More meetings, yes. Not necessarily more engagement.

Plus the narrative is now less overtly about growth and prosperity.

Mr Yousaf highlights the gains brought by the distinctive Scottish benefits system, most notably through the child payment which he says has helped alleviate poverty.

Very few in the business sector would dissent from that objective. They do not count Ebenezer Scrooge among their members.

However, they would welcome more emphasis upon the creation of wealth, a feeling that is shared by some in SNP ranks at Holyrood.

Some also wonder whether it is consistent to freeze council tax while hiking income tax. The FM says the overall objective is to protect the lowest paid.

Finally, the biggest qualifying factor of them all. Humza Yousaf has had to govern and to argue for independence during a protracted police investigation into SNP finances.

The Herald: Peter Murrell quit as SNP chief executive earlier this year amid a row over misleading figures

Just one week after the FM took office, the party’s former chief executive Peter Murrell was arrested and released without charge. Mr Yousaf has not been free of the shadow since.

It means that every analysis of the SNP’s prospects is subject to caveat. It undermines the party’s strategic approach – and the independence cause.

Plus, of course, political judgements are on hold pending the UK General Election. Humza Yousaf wants a straight fight with the Scottish Tories, hoping that might polarise opinion between independence and the Union, to his party’s advantage.

And what of the aftermath? Would a UK Labour Government create momentum for that party in Scotland? Or create disaffection if Keir Starmer is unable to deliver sufficiently speedy change?

In politics, nothing is certain.