Nothing succeeds like success; and, in a less advertised corollary, nothing fails like failure. Nicola Sturgeon, the previously Teflon-coated First Minister of Scotland, is now experiencing that cycle of political decline. Suddenly, everything she touches turns to ashes; her magic has failed. Sturgeon has transitioned, so to speak, from being the SNP’s greatest asset to being its worst liability.

It is all her own doing. From the time she first rose to prominence, her political skills were vastly exaggerated, especially by her demoralised opponents. The Sturgeon pseudo-magic was partly a hangover from the genuine charisma of Alex Salmond who, whatever murky associations later engulfed him, brought the SNP from a taxi-load of Westminster MPs to majority government at Holyrood. That was a change of fortunes the most optimistic separatist had never seriously canvassed.