At the height of the referendum campaign, the SNP leadership painted a picture of how our difficulties could be overcome by breaking away from the rest of the UK – like a mirage of some latter-day Scottish utopia.
This week the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a start on the long campaign for 2016, with a focus on education. It proved to be a bumpy ride.
New initiatives, particularly in reversing poor attainment amongst those from deprived areas, were countered by a multitude of insights into the damage the SNP has inflicted on education over the past eight years of control.
Parents across Scotland have seen the reality of failed initiatives and under-resourcing.
The First Minister will in due course have to address other areas that are more difficult in terms of the SNP’s record, such as health and police, where the shortcomings have become ever more obvious to the people who depend on them.
The heady campaigning vision of a Scotland with problems resolved by separation does not look so enticing when re-imagined as the mismanagement of education, health and the police rolled out across all the other functions and decision-making areas required to keep a country on track.