Alex Salmond’s unfortunate late pull out from BBC Question Time last week was a missed opportunity for the party. A series of soft blows over the past few weeks for the SNP culminated in what was arguably Johann Lamont’s best performance at First Minister’s Questions since she became Labour leader.

Granted, it was an open goal with the First Minister himself credited with an unwitting assist but a public pulpit from which to come out loudly fighting on Murdoch questions would have done the SNP the world of good in terms of building some momentum and dampening down the distant disquiet that could yet spill over within the party. It’s little wonder that Alex Salmond chose to make a rare mea culpa over Murdoch in the week before the important May elections. The FM has gone from having done nothing wrong to learning lessons which, to me, doesn’t entirely make logical sense.

There’s been more than a little hubris at play recently, not just from the perennially self-satisfied Salmond though. On Twitter the other day, this remarkable exchange involving the SNP’s former Chief of Staff Luke Skipper suggests that some in the party believe that the media shouldn’t be asking questions of the Government at all. I’m sure there’s a term for such an approach but I hesitate to repeat it:

@BBCDouglasFraser Why does #scotgov have to back News Corp owning all of BSkyB to protect Sky jobs in Scotland? It failed, so are jobs at risk?

@BBCJamesCOOK It’s an excellent question for #FMQs: How many Scottish jobs have been lost as a result of the BSkyB deal’s failure?

@LJ_Skipper I think it’s the opposition’s job to come up with the questions. Good ol’unbiased #BBC #FMQs #listeningric

@BBCJamesCOOK Asking questions isn’t biased. It’s journalism. Disturbing if reporters stopped from questioning.

It takes quite a leap of mental gymnastics to disagree with the BBC’s James Cook here. We should all embrace an open, free, rigorous media asking uncomfortable questions of the Government, on whatever topic they feel the public will be interested in. Whether those questions are posed directly or rhetorically as a would-be FMQ is neither here nor there.

Even the usually sure-footed Burd had the touch of the paranoia around a recent post when she rallied around Geoff Aberdein after those ‘nasty media types’ ganged up on the Special Adviser.

“Scottish Labour thinks it has a cunning plan to wound Alex Salmond over the Murdoch stuff by gunning for his Special Advisor, Geoff Aberdein. It worked at Westminster, after all. Following revelations at the Leveson inquiry about the extent of contact between Jeremy Hunt’s Special Advisor and the Murdoch Empire’s man over the BSkyB takeover bid, the poor wee SpAD was thrown to the political and media wolves in the hope that some fresh meat would sate their appetites. Not a chance, it simply whets them.

But the circumstances are different in Scotland. The reason Hunt is in the firing line, and the reason his special advisor had to go, is because he was supposed to be acting in a quasi-judicial capacity on this takeover bid.”

Conflating Hunt’s quasi-judicial role with the quite separate issues that Salmond faces is a bit sneaky and is certainly weak. Opting not to tackle an issue head on is a typical second option behind pretending there isn’t an issue in the first place, which is all the more bizarre as Kate freely acknowledged that Salmond is getting too close to Murdoch.

As for the “poor wee Spad”, I really don’t think you can have it both ways. You can’t be a special adviser to the Scottish Government without a certain degree of scrutiny, particularly when the BBC reports, not unreasonably, that a dubious deal appears to have been done with News international.

The potentially damning quote, “I met with Alex Salmond’s adviser today. He will call Hunt whenever we need him to.”, could mean anything of course but it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of investigative journalists and the political opposition alike to not explore a potential abuse of power, lobbying of the UK Government by the Scottish Government at a time of Rupert Murdoch’s choosing. Who voted for that?

Not that this sensitivity isn’t understandable. I guess it must be easier to be on the backfoot when you’re Labour or Tory because you know you’ll be back up riding high in a term or two. It’s taken the SNP 70 years to get to where they are. Who is to say that this Nationalist surge won’t deflate as quickly as it was built up, and stay there?

One year in, it seems a parliamentary majority doesn’t sit well with the SNP. A victim mentality built up over decades coupled with not being able to point the finger of blame elsewhere is hard to reconcile on the face of it. The majority may have delivered the referendum but it’s proving to be am increasingly difficult challenge to hold everything together against the relentless march of time.

One can only hope that the party can ditch the paranoia, get back to basics on the devolved powers that they do hold, accept that criticism, questions and scrutiny are part of the job and kick on from there.

One step backwards over the past few weeks won’t be so bad if the weeks ahead bring a few steps forwards.