Nicola Sturgeon has been an MSP for more than two decades but today is one of the biggest tests of her political career.

She will have the chance to give her version of events on the Scottish Government’s botched sexual misconduct investigation into former first minister Alex Salmond.

In addressing the Holyrood Inquiry, she will be able to explain why more than £600,000 of public money was lost to this fiasco.

She will also be grilled on the claims of her angry predecessor.

Salmond is furious about the conduct of the probe and the fact it was leaked to the Daily Record.

He is livid that he was charged with sexual offences, even though he was acquitted.

Salmond believes Sturgeon’s husband, SNP CEO Peter Murrell, and her chief-of-staff Liz Lloyd, were among those who plotted to have him jailed.

Hearing Sturgeon respond to these claims will be an extraordinary event in itself.

She also needs to provide clarity for the sake of her party.

The SNP is engaged in a bitter civil war between allies of the First Minister and her predecessor.

Unity was once the watchword of the SNP – now, it is a distant memory.

But our main hope is today’s evidence session allows Scotland to focus all its energies on the pandemic and its aftermath.

We desperately need the Scottish Government to put forward a Covid recovery plan based on the economy and public services.

This is impossible while it is paralysed over the Salmond Inquiry.

We need answers – and then we need to move on.

Bridge the gap

Huge inequalities in the UK between rich areas and poor, and the low-paid and the well-off, have been exposed by the coronavirus crisis.

The much-vaunted furlough scheme has been a lifeline for many people with a job, and many without, while the £20 uplift in Universal Credit has been the difference between food and poverty.

The massive inequalities were not caused by the coronavirus crisis. They were the result of a decade of Tory cuts that left people on the cliff edge of poverty and public services in crisis.

Today’s Budget needs the Tories not to revert to type with their instinct for tax-cutting and aversion to the

public sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget may be slick in presentation but we fear it will be flash in the pan when it comes to addressing the investment the country really needs.