Nicola Sturgeon says she has left her successor a “brilliant foundation”, but the bitter SNP leadership contest shows it more like a pile of dust.
Whoever wins will lead a Government whose record has been trashed by two of the three candidates.
The victor will also have to pick up the pieces of a party apparatus in ruins over lies told about the loss of 30,000 members.
Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan are now competing for the toughest job in Scottish politics.
The LBC debate, hosted by Iain Dale, showed how fractious and divided the SNP has become in just a few weeks.
Forbes, whose social conservatism nearly derailed her campaign in the first few days, was quizzed by Dale on whether he, a gay man, is a sinner.
Yousaf, who started off the contest as the favourite, was put on the back foot by Dale and Regan over damaging claims he is the “continuity” candidate.
Regan, the outsider who has raised questions on the integrity of the election, also repeated her call for SNP members to be able to change their vote.
Yousaf and Regan also traded blows in a tetchy squabble over stalled gender recognition reforms.
Only two scenarios can play out for the SNP after the result is announced next week.
If Yousaf wins, Regan’s supporters will suggest he is the illegitimate winner of a tainted contest. He could be a lame duck leader from his first day in charge.
If Forbes triumphs, she will find herself at the helm of a parliamentary group that does not want her to be leader.
Gay SNP MSPs, still insulted by her opposition to same sex marriage, may refuse to serve in her Government.
It is heads Scottish Labour wins and tails the SNP loses.
Sturgeon has claimed with a straight face the SNP is not in a “mess” and is merely suffering from “growing pains”.
Given the circus of the last three weeks, her words look like an early April Fool’s joke.
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