THE SNP is about to embark on a new Deputy Leadership contest.

Angus Robertson holding the position while not in elected office couldn’t feasibly have continued for much longer.

The title may sound grand and important but will it carry the same weight as previous incumbents.

The party has a leader. There is no doubt who is in charge. Nicola Sturgeon has control of the SNP and the Scottish Government.

She has appointed a Deputy First Minister in John Swinney and put him in charge of one of her flagship policies, closing the attainment gap.

She did so because he was her most able deputy who she could rely on to carry out a policy which if it fails, she will carry the can.

Without being disrespectful to any of those mentioned as possible deputy leaders they would not be asked to carry such a weighty burden.

John Swinney is Nicola Sturgeon’s right hand man. He performs the same role that she herself did as deputy to Alex Salmond for many years. He is the man who will step in and fill her shoes if she is unavailable.

Able to take over the responsibilities of leadership in her absence and in effect a potential successor when the time comes.

Likewise the names mentioned are unlikely to be mentioned if Ms Sturgeon was to unexpectedly decide her time was up.

Those names at the moment would more likely be Mr Swinney, Derek Mackay and Keith Brown none of whom look likely to contest the deputy leadership.

James Dornan is the only MSP so far to declare an interest in the Deputy job.

At Westminster the Group leader, Ian Blackford, has ruled himself out. So the dual role held by Angus Robertson will not continue.

It means there will be a Party Leader who is First Minister and a Deputy First Minister.

There will also be as well as the Westminster Group leader a Deputy Leader.

Tommy Sheppard MP, popular among the grassroots we are told, is mentioned as a strong contender and Pete Wishart MP another.

And a role with the grassroots party membership is where this role will be most important.

Mr Dornan has already said he wants to unite the Yes movement in preparation for another independence referendum.

Mr Wishart has warned against alienating EU Leave voters that he thinks the party has lost.

Organising the large membership and keeping them motivated as many itch for a second referendum is a job in itself.

So the size of the SNP and a party of government probably means it needs many chiefs.

However, don’t think this role will have the same power and influence that Nicola Sturgeon had when she was leader in waiting or Angus Robertson when he was firmly established as part of the leadership team.

Three and a half years after the referendum, and the explosion of new members not from a traditional SNP background was thought would cause problems for the leadership has not materialised.

The new deputy leader will have a job to do and important party functions to fulfil.

But it will not come with the power and influence enjoyed by previous deputies.