IT’S not uncommon to feel a sense of despair at the start of the week. The “Monday blues” are a real thing. Scientists have crunched the data and confirmed as much.

Not that we need science to tell us why Mondays are rubbish. The weekend is over and a full working week stretches out before us. Is it any wonder it’s the day when moods tend to be lowest?

Nobody in Scotland will be suffering from the Monday blues more than the First Minister today.

Humza Yousaf must surely be heading into this new week with a sense of foreboding, as he wonders what fresh horrors it will bring.

The ongoing police investigation into SNP finances makes analysis of the party’s current woes legally tricky.

There is nothing more frustrating for commentors than not being able to comment, but politicians don’t usually mind being constrained in this way.

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It’s often politically convenient to bat away questions by referencing an ongoing investigation. A lot of the time, it’s certainly easier than answering them.

But I’m not sure this shield against full and frank disclosure is at all helpful for Yousaf. The first few weeks and months of the First Minister’s tenure should have been focused on establishing his relationship with the public and setting out his vision for Scotland. Instead, he’s been forced into a defensive position.

That is by its nature a position of weakness – he is responding to events rather than shaping them.

The ongoing police investigation means that Yousaf has been forced to repeat the same, rather weak, line about how he has set up a review into party governance and transparency.

Answers will come and it is certainly in the new First Minister’s interests that they do. But until then, he is at the mercy of what has become a rather brutal news cycle for the governing party.

The National:

Last week, we learned that the SNP still owes money to its former chief executive, Peter Murrell. He loaned the party £107,620 in June 2021 and the First Minister confirmed that “there is money still absolutely outstanding to Peter Murrell in terms of the repayment of the loan” when questioned about the subject by journalists.

The First Minister also faced questions about the arrest of the then party treasurer Colin Beattie. Yousaf expressed his surprise at the development during a media huddle which left him looking slightly out of his depth.

The news overshadowed Yousaf’s first major Holyrood statement, in which he set out his priorities for government. Unsurprisingly, the SNP’s financial troubles were a point of weakness that were exploited by opposition leaders in their responses.

At the weekend, there were a series of newspaper reports about the “extensive list” of items the police are interested in and looking to recover as part of their investigation.

This apparently includes luxury pots and pans, expensive pens and jewellery.

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A source told the Sunday Mail that the police are also interested in so-called burner phones that might contain messages that are pertinent to their investigation.

At this point, Yousaf must feel like he’s the subject of some Truman Show-style experiment. But this is reality and in the short-term at the very least, it looks like things are only going to get worse for the SNP.

As the deadline looms for the party to find new auditors, it faces a real threat to its financial – and electoral – viability. The party is also said to be braced for the potential arrest of Nicola Sturgeon.

Such an outcome would be catastrophic for a party that is already in turmoil.

While the focus in recent weeks has understandably been on the party’s financial and legal worries, we shouldn’t forget that the SNP is also just as susceptible to low morale as other parties are. Maybe even more so given that the party membership has become used to victories in recent years.

There is a real sense of confusion among many rank-and-file members. They find it impossible to defend the actions of senior figures when they know as little as the rest of us about what the hell is actually going on.

For that reason and many others, the best outcome for Humza Yousaf and the SNP would be for any legal action or revelations to come quickly. This drip, drip, drip of detail without context and allegation without action is the worst possible scenario for any political party.

If, as he says, Yousaf is committed to ending the culture of secrecy within the party and improving governance and transparency, then he must be wishing that whatever pain is to come, comes now, so he can get on with recovery planning.

Otherwise – regardless of whether the SNP are ultimately found to have acted improperly – it faces the slower, but no less agonising, death by a thousand cuts.