Some reactions from within the SNP to their catastrophic defeat last week seemed to come from a planet far, far away from reality. They indicate not merely a party that’s in denial but one which now requires palliative care.

The most unhinged suggestion is that the SNP move quickly to ensure that several of those who lost their seats in last week’s annihilation be provided with board and lodgings at Holyrood following the 2026 Scottish election. Behave yourselves.

This would be akin to asking Rab the arsonist to do his community service in a fireworks factory. The SNP’s Holyrood contingent already includes a disproportionate number of rockets. If it’s all the same to you; it doesn’t need any more.

Among those SNP candidates who lost their seats were several whose indolence and lip-curling arrogance at Westminster had betrayed the voters who had put them there. This was captured perfectly when John Nicolson, seeking the support of people in an area facing the prospect of its largest local employer shutting down, filmed himself telling them how to look good in the rain.

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Some observers at the election count in Edinburgh were rather startled to see groups of SNP supporters openly celebrating when it became known that Mr Nicolson had been soundly beaten in Alloa and Grangemouth. Long before this election it had become clear to many hard-working, voluntary activists that the SNP’s Westminster contingent - minus a few laudable exceptions - had gone down there for a jolly and to participate in the House of Commons drinking culture. Mhairi Black was somehow retained as Deputy Leader of the group even after it was revealed that she’d threatened to quit the party if it rejected her staffer’s bid to succeed her.

Some accused the former leader of the group, Ian Blackford, of doing nothing to stop a campaign of intimidation and vilification of his colleague Joanna Cherry for daring to question aspects of Nicola Sturgeon’s overall leadership. Ms Cherry has since said that she holds both of them personally responsible for painting a target on her back over her opposition to gender self-ID.

The immediate consequences of this behaviour by the SNP leadership was not immediately clear. A few years ago though, I suggested that it would come home to roost during future election campaigns. Such was the atmosphere of hostility and violent threat being directed at feminist SNP activists that they were quitting the party in droves. Many of them had been the loyal, door-knocking infantry providing the bedrock of previous SNP electoral successes.

Sources close to Joanna Cherry have told me that the numbers of party canvassers in Edinburgh South West was significantly down on previous campaigns. This pattern was noted by several Labour candidates with whom I’d spoken during the campaign, all of whom expressed pleasant surprise at the low visibility of the SNP.

The SNP messaging since last Thursday has been clear: just tell them that “we need to reflect” on losing more than 80% of its candidates and hundreds of thousands of votes. Well, let them reflect on this: you lost principally because many of your supporters had become sickened by your gross betrayal of them and your creepy obsessions in office that had nothing to do with independence.

And don’t kid yourselves that they’d merely expressed disappointment: they’d come to loathe you. It was clear to them that you held ordinary Scots in deep contempt and regarded them as hate-fuelled bigots who couldn’t be trusted to bring up their children properly. It was also becoming clearer with each passing week that you harboured a large contingent of misogynists among your elected representatives and your advisory, all of whom had been given licence to abuse and harass women with impunity.

Spare us too this nonsense about being swept away in a frenzy of anti-Toryism. We know you revile us, but don’t think we’re stupid too. Many thousands of your own people had reached the stage where they could no longer stand the sight of you. If you were just another boutique-left client party of Big Business like Labour it wouldn’t matter so much. We could just have done with you and “reflect” on why we’d ever agreed to give most of you house-room.

Sadly for those of us who still want Scotland to be independent, you remain our only vehicle for achieving this. Yet this too is open to debate. There is a case for saying that Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and John Swinney have caused so much damage to this party that independence is dead and buried for eternity. That society will soon reach the point where the concept of "self-determination" and "exceptionalism" is considered absurd in a hyper-connected world.

Jim SillarsJim Sillars (Image: PA)

A more optimistic counter to this though, was offered by Jim Sillars when I interviewed him in April. He chose to be inspired by the memory of those who had campaigned their entire life for independence but hadn’t lived even to see the first referendum. Any period of reflection should err on the short and brutal side. And if it doesn’t conclude with the removal of John Swinney as leader then it will have been a waste of time. History records the details of national leaders across the world who ruled by fear. Mr Swinney belongs to a much smaller but even more wretched group: those who ruled in fear.

This was never more apparent than his abject media interviews last when, paralysed by fear of the anti-women mob in his party, he was reduced to an inchoate series of squawking and spluttering when asked to define a woman or how many genders there were.

His foolish insistence that the election was a de facto independence vote has given unionists years of attack options. His supine adherence to the cult of Nicola Sturgeon and his refusal to defend his much more able deputy, Kate Forbes, from a deeply unpleasant attack by the Scottish Greens was shameful.

Ms Forbes and Stephen Flynn must devise a strategy for removing Mr Swinney and begin the task of dredging the NEC of those opportunists who have simply used independence as a cover for their ruinous trans-activism.

If they fail to use their influence among their respective power-bases then they will effectively hand the 2026 Scottish election to Labour. Worse: they risk subjecting the party to another generation of frauds and losers who, right now, are making plans to insinuate themselves onto the party lists for 2026.

The SNP may still lose in 2026, but at least the task of sending out the clowns will have begun.