Nicola Sturgeon has always been an ambitious politician and her accession to the highest office in Scottish politics in a few days’ time should bring her deep satisfaction.
But apparently it is not enough to be SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland. On the eve of achieving greatness, she has already signalled a yearning for more domination and given us a worrying foretaste of the kind of leader she means to be.
In a series of interviews over the weekend, she expressed an interest in being part of a Westminster coalition. If Labour won a narrow majority in the May general election, the SNP, she suggested, might be willing to prop up Ed Miliband.
Recent polls have put the SNP well ahead of Labour, and the nationalists are confident they could scoop up record Scottish seats in the May ballot. But this is not what Scottish voters want to hear from their new leader.
Apart from the fact that the SNP always talk up their chances at Westminster, only to be humiliated on election day (Alex Salmond predicted 20 seats in 2010 and ended up with six), the focus of the Scottish Government should be on Scotland.
It is odd for Ms Sturgeon to be hankering after influence in London when her life’s work has been to distance her country from the “transient trappings of Westminster power” (her words). Has she realised, in the wake of referendum defeat, that the bigger stage is out of reach unless she embraces the hated establishment in the south?
For us genuine unionists it would be quite amusing to watch the SNP participating in a UK government while trying simultaneously to dismantle the UK. It seems an unlikely scenario though.
A more realistic distraction for Ms Sturgeon will be the clamour in her ranks for another referendum. In refusing to rule out, or rule in, a second vote on the constitution she has left the door open to endless speculation.
The pledge that September 18 was a once in a generation event seems to have been taken less seriously by the nation-alists than the electorate. I doubt if all those on the Yes side let alone horrified No voters would welcome a re-run in the foreseeable future, but Sturgeon has her militants to consider.
These have formed themselves into a pressure group called “the 45 per cent” (although strictly speaking they should be “the 44.7 per cent”), to mark the scale of their loss, and their mission is to keep independence high on the political agenda.
With an estimated 60,000 new SNP members since the referendum, many of them assumed to be campaign activists, Ms Sturgeon will come under pressure to pursue the divisive politics of the last three years.
She said over the weekend that another referendum would be “driven by public sentiment and opinion” but if she is to be a good leader of Scotland and not just of her party she must listen to voices beyond her own supporters.
It hardly needs saying that the very last thing we need now is more secessionist talk and more navel gazing.
We are in the throes of examining further powers for the Scottish Parliament and, with all-party support, are bound to get extra devolution of some description.
It is in Scotland’s interests that this process reaches a speedy conclusion, and that will involve compromise by the SNP, which is outnumbered on Lord Smith’s devolution commission by the unionist parties.
Ms Sturgeon, promoted unopposed to the top job, has the authority within her party to plot a course and stick to it. She also has the respect of the opposition at the moment for her part in securing the nationalists’ electoral successes in 2007 and 2011.
She can use her clout to moderate between over-excited separatists and the rest of us, who long for a government that actually governs.
Or she can go down the route of her predecessor and pit Scot against Scot and the whole nation against Britain.
The nationalists may think there is mileage in the latter option, but people (possibly even some in the SNP) are weary. Hope that Ms Sturgeon will choose to put Scotland first still exists, but it is fading fast.