There is no enjoyment to be had from the dismal spectacle of the catastrophic collapse of the most effective political partnership in Scotland's history: Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. It renders Blair and Brown's dysfunctional relationship a petulant tiff in the little boy's room.
Depending on your perspective, the Scottish psychodrama has the makings either of Shakespearean tragedy or Theatre of the Absurd. I'm inclined to the former view. The irretrievable and bitter breakdown of a 30-year friendship is tragic. With them, however, Scottish political culture has been dragged down into a mire from which it must be pulled up and given a thorough scrub.
Commentators, columnists and keyboard warriors associated with both camps, have wallowed in moralising, personality politics. Accusations levelled at Salmond and Sturgeon include 'massive egos', being 'liars', 'vengeful', 'malicious', 'despotic', 'pervert', 'wicked', 'control freak' and much more. That this feud is unedifying, tribal and deeply personal understates the level of bile spewing out into the public domain.
People are complex, politicians even more so given the necessity to separate the public and private sphere, where personal characteristics are either hidden or unseen. I have met both politicians as people. Both are different characters, of course, but they share admirable traits including kindness, generosity, compassion, and intelligence. Both are flawed in the way every single one of us are flawed. But for most of us, our flaws are generally insignificant, as largely confined to the private sphere.
When did we become so horrendously and unilaterally judgemental about politicians? Reflecting on this, it probably started with Thatcher. Her rise to power at that time, surrounded by white, middle-aged, privileged Tories, was accompanied by rank misogyny. I loathed her policies, but I didn't hate her.
What is dismaying about modern politics, particularly with progressives, is the tendency to home in on one 'egregious' flaw with heat-seeking intensity, and in doing so characterise the whole person as 'monstrous' or some other heinous epithet. Where is that old Christian adage, 'Hate the sin, love the sinner'? Fair enough, we don't have to love the sinner, but 'hate the sin, hate the sinner' won't do either.
I was reminded the other day of some words from Tolstoy I quoted at my father's funeral, and they are worth repeating (with pronoun changes from the original):
'We may say of a person that they are more often kind than cruel, more often wise than stupid, more often energetic than apathetic or vice versa; but it could never be true to say of one person that he is kind or wise, and of another that she is wicked or stupid. Yet we are always classifying humankind in this way. And it is wrong. Human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm. It is the same with human beings. Every human bears within them the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike themselves, while still remaining the same man or woman.'
As the ugly SNP saga reaches its denouement, the Labour Party in Scotland is quietly, finally, getting its act together. Whatever your politics, it is a fine thing indeed that Anas Sarwar was elected the first party leader ever, from our Asian community. It didn't stop commentators jumping on Twitter to highlight flaws they perceived in the new leader, but sadly that's where we are in Scottish politics.
Sarwar has appointed a strong and diverse team to lead Scottish Labour into the forthcoming Holyrood elections in May. It was a relief to see experienced and talented MSPs and party candidates appointed to key posts in his campaign cabinet. It's early days, but for the first time in a long time, Labour is starting to look stable, mature and united in comparison to the divided SNP.
There is less than 10 weeks before voters go to the polls, and despite their current woes they will win the election, especially with the popular Nicola Sturgeon at the helm. Still, an effective, scrutinising, united opposition in Holyrood is more critical now than it has ever been. Not just for the Scottish people, but for the governing party. In fact, a proper, solid opposition in parliament could save the SNP from itself. Strange paradox, but there it is.
Finally, on a lighter note, those of you reading this who do not engage with social media may not be aware that George Galloway has re-entered Scottish politics. Not having paid much attention to him for years, I should confess to a guilty secret: I'm rather entertained by his Twitter feed. Perhaps it's the moribund, sanctimonious, joyless state of politics at the moment, but Galloway's tweets inject some gaiety into the Scottish gloom. His new party, Alliance for Unity, is advocating tactical voting to stop nationalists from breaking up the UK. He's advising voters to vote Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat in constituency seats to keep out the SNP, and for his party on the list. Galloway himself declared that he will be voting Conservative in his constituency. In so doing, he has mischievously horrified his erstwhile friends and supporters on the Scottish left.
Whether Galloway succeeds in winning a list seat is a long shot. But I can't help smiling at the thought of him entering Holyrood's debating chamber to charm and scandalise us with his wit and iconoclastic oratory. What a time to be alive right enough!