SO the backside has fallen out of the SNP universe, with the arrest of Peter Murrell.

It’s hard to know where to begin but easy to know where to stop. And that’s pretty much right here.

Police Scotland reminded everyone yesterday that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 became active minutes after his arrest, so even analysis of Murrell’s general record as SNP chief executive could be viewed as prejudicial.

In case anyone has forgotten how seriously Scottish courts treat speculation about accused people, Craig Murray was jailed for blog posts relating to the Alex Salmond trial and lost an appeal two years ago – so it’s fair to say they feel quite strongly about online commentary on active cases.

A few things are immediately obvious, though.

One is that Ash Regan did Humza Yousaf a great favour by challenging Peter Murrell over the accuracy of membership figures, thus triggering his resignation.

If that question had not been raised in the highly visible sphere of the leadership battle, it’s quite possible Murrell would still be chief executive of the SNP today – especially since Yousaf commented that he would be a fool not to value a man who had won “election after election” as CEO.

The National: Ash Regan previously challenged Murrell over membership figures, triggering his resignationAsh Regan previously challenged Murrell over membership figures, triggering his resignation (Image: PA)

Clearly, that was an error of judgement.

Whether Murrell is innocent or guilty of any charge, a police investigation made an arrest possible. Now it’s happened, the SNP have been plunged back into disarray, straight after a destabilising leadership contest.

With a new opinion poll putting Scottish Labour just five points behind the SNP, party supporters and Yessers will feel dismayed and angry at the SNP – that’s our cause of independence that’s being stalled and dragged through the mire.

There will be bruising speculation about who knew what, when – even if little can be aired publicly. Meanwhile, attention should be paid to the choice of Murrell’s successor.

The decision on how to appoint a new chief executive falls to old hands – Kirsten Oswald and Mike Russell – but after all this, the new chief executive cannot be anyone from the party’s old inner sanctum.

READ MORE: Contempt of Court: What can't media report on Peter Murrell's arrest?

If Yousaf didn’t plan a clean sweep before, he must perform one now – and soldier on to set out his programme for government, without despondency or deflection. Those are luxuries he cannot afford.

I have rarely seen a politician more inundated with advice and warnings about strategy, policy and action. So many voices, so much criticism – including from 15 MSPs, who may or may not emerge as an organised pro-business grouping. His has been a baptism of fire, even before Murrell’s arrest.

Yousaf would be crazy to ignore criticism about the top-down, controlling, secretive, corporate style of SNP governance. But he would also be crazy to question every aspect of policy, especially when he did narrowly win.

The show must go on.

And that means taking ownership of policies currently perceived to be Scottish Greens’ obsessions and explaining the thinking behind them much, much better.

Even though it would be tempting to disown the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRR), highly protected marine areas and the bottle deposit return scheme as problems for coalition partners. Never mind wheesht for indy, the FM may be tempted to duck for survival.

But the “Greens are at it” narrative isn’t quite true. Both the GRR and Deposit Return Scheme pre-date the Bute House Agreement – they were SNP creations. And they actually have some public support.

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A recent poll found seven out of 10 Scots support the introduction of deposit return on drink bottles and cans.

A February BBC survey found 57% support for making a Gender Recognition certificate easier to get – rising to 70% backing amongst under 35s and 63% amongst women. Though other polling has been more negative.

A YouGov poll found 70% of SNP voters support “getting off oil and gas as quickly as possible”, while 45% support a ban on new exploration for oil and gas (with 39% against).

Meanwhile, a joint UK/Scottish Government survey in November found 85% support the creation of Marine Protected Areas. Of course, that proportion might drop if the question suggested island economies could be damaged in the process.

But the policy is just at the consultation stage. A compromise can be found and it must be because chucking biodiversity protection overboard at the first hurdle isn’t a good look.

The point is that despite the many problems facing the “continuity” SNP/Green coalition – including Murrell’s arrest – it may be more in tune with general public opinion than critics suggest. But its “shy” support doesn’t get vocal when opponents get active.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf 'looking at' pausing deposit return scheme

And that’s why a big responsibility rests on Yousaf – who gets media attention every week at FMQs and beyond, in a way that eludes the Green ministers. He needs to use that to his advantage and promote these schemes.

A major failure of Nicola Sturgeon’s government was an unwillingness to get out and explain the thinking behind “green” policies. There seemed to be an assumption that if a policy looked justified on paper, it would automatically be accepted in practice. That is not the way the world works.

Look at Wales, where a Labour first minister has just axed £4 billion worth of spending on 50 road-building projects – including a third Menai bridge, an expansion of the A55 “Red Route” in Flintshire and an M4 relief road between Cardiff, Bridgend, Port Talbot and Swansea.

The axed roads cash has been transferred to fund new public transport systems instead.

Has there been criticism and anger? You bet.

Mark Drakeford even supported a Senedd motion that criticised the lack of consultation in his own proposal.

Yet it seems the bold decision by the Welsh Labour/Plaid Cymru coalition hasn’t backfired electorally.

An opinion poll taken after the road-scrapping announcement shows Labour with a whopping 52% of the vote in Wales, Plaid Cymru on 15% and the Conservatives down to 19% and projected to win just two of the 40 Westminster seats. Of course, it’s early days. Anything could go wrong with the bold new transport plans.

But it seems the public is willing to go along with a wholesale change in policy that many would regard as electoral suicide in Scotland.

What does that say?

Well, it might say bold works, while apologetic, uninspiring triangulation disnae.

Scots, for example, are indeed furious that fuel poverty and energy costs are higher here even though we produce the lion’s share of British renewables. But the new FM cannot keep citing that without highlighting his inability or unwillingness to act.

A whopping 86% of Scots back a National Energy Company and even if restricted borrowing powers mean it must start small, it can still start. Holyrood has devolved control over heat, so it could start on the rollout of renewably powered district heating – and take a stake in future ScotWind franchise auctions.

Similarly, if Yousaf intends to take Westminster to court over its planned veto of the GRR, he must own and explain that decision, not duck it.

Fortune still favours the bold. And the bold are neither hesitant nor reckless.

After recent disappointments, the FM must pleasantly surprise us all.

So nae pressure.