Peter Murrell’s arrest comes at the worst possible time for the SNP, which is still reeling from the shock of Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to resign as leader and First Minister.

Exactly seven weeks before officers from Police Scotland knocked on the door of the house she shares with her husband on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon was giving a speech at her official residence of Bute House in Edinburgh, announcing she was stepping down.

Since that moment, her party has found itself being plunged into chaos and already appears to be almost unrecognisable from the smooth, united, election-winning powerhouse that it once was during her tenure.

Ms Sturgeon’s decision to quit triggered an often bitter leadership contest that led to the party’s record in government being publicly slated by some of its own members, with the three contenders clashing in a series of live TV debates.

During the contest, Ms Sturgeon’s longstanding deputy John Swinney also announced that he would be leaving the Scottish Government, marking an even more profound changing of the guard at the top of the SNP.

Then her husband, Mr Murrell, announced that he too would be quitting as SNP chief executive following a row over the size of the party’s membership which also claimed the job of head of communications Murray Foote.

When the results of the leadership election came through, it exposed deep divisions within the party, with members almost evenly split on who should succeed Ms Sturgeon.

Humza Yousaf won the contest with 52.1 per cent of the vote, with his rival Kate Forbes finishing on 47.9 per cent after second preferences were redistributed. The results suggested that many members were not happy to simply usher in the “Sturgeon continuity candidate”.

Polls since then have suggested that the turmoil has damaged the SNP electorally, with the latest survey published this week showing that its lead over Labour ahead of next year’s general election has been cut to only five points.

The party is also in search of a new strategy on Scottish independence, with Ms Sturgeon’s proposal to treat the 2024 election as a “de facto” vote on the issue now buried somewhere in the long grass.

Mr Yousaf has a vague plan to grow support for leaving the UK, but has so far not indicated exactly how he plans to do it where she failed. The party’s lack of a clear policy on its defining issue sums up where it is at the moment: lost.

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