IT'S 2020 and, let's face it, any attempt at political prediction is foolhardy at best.

But if one were to take a deep breath and shoot an arrow into the darkness, it would have been just about certain to land on Margaret Ferrier resigning by the end of last week.

Her party rapidly withdrew the whip and an investigation was launched by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. There was widespread disgust at the revelation she had travelled by train while knowingly carrying the Covid-19 virus, with no supporting voices forthcoming.

Her party leader, the First Minister of the country, called for her to resign, as did other senior members of the SNP. Even her local paper, the Rutherglen Reformer, issued an excoriating call for her to stand down from her Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat.

It was impossible to see how she might hold her head up and carry on in the face of such a widespread public shaming.

Then, though, the backlash to the backlash came. Very tentatively, some friendly voices suggested Ms Ferrier's silence must mean she was gravely ill. There could be no other explanation. And how cruel it was, when the clarion call of right-thinking social media currently is to #BeKind, for people to carry on this coruscating discourse about a woman in her sick bed.

So, then, it was a case of waiting for the MP's health to rally and for an explanation to emerge as to what on earth she was thinking.

It was difficult to imagine what that might have been, having had a coronavirus test and gone to mass. Or when she had Covid-19 symptoms and went to a gift shop, a beauty salon and a leisure centre. As one wag on Twitter put it: a busier day off than Ferris Bueller.

Finally, thanks to an interview given to the Scottish Sun on Sunday, Ms Ferrier showed her workings. And was it worth the 10 day wait? Well, we can certainly lay to rest the notion she was too sick to face the bombastic lambasting that had headed her way. "A tickly throat," was how she described her coronavirus symptoms, and one that cleared up quickly.

With that line of support out the window, what next? Absolute contrition and a plea to her constituents to forgive her? That, surely, was the only way to convincingly proceed. A stumbling block is Ms Ferrier's absolute criticism of Dominic Cummings when he took his eyesight-testing jaunt to Barnard Castle. Sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander.

Well, there was an odd line about coronavirus preventing her from being able to think straight, so we'll see how long it is before that's added to the case definition. A quality prized in a politician is the ability to be calm under fire so an interesting line of defence to take - that of buckling under pressure.

Instead of contrition it was finger pointing time. The rules, she said, change often and are too confusing. There's two issues here: one, she's criticising her own party, which is in charge of approving the rules and how they're shared with the public; two, she's saying it didn't occur to her to ask.

The MP then said she'd been told by the party to inform the police and was given a statement to issue that would say the authorities had already been alerted. She claims she was told the whip would be removed but reinstated on condition of her cooperation.

All very interesting but Ferrier's behaviour is a separate issue from any SNP mishandling of the situation. If it was mishandled then the public needs to know. But that is apart from Ms Ferrier's behaviour on being tested and her own subsequent actions.

Without saying so explicitly, Ms Ferrier's lawyer suggested the party is being overly hard on the MP in order to distract from a difficult past week for Nicola Sturgeon and others in the SNP. The party has plausible deniability here: the politician's actions have earned hard treatment. Any soft touch on Ms Ferrier would be a terrible look, given how consistently hard the First Minister has been hammering home the self-isolation message.

Ms Sturgeon also knows the damage done by havering over Catherine Calderwood. The delay in sacking the former Chief Medical Officer was unacceptable and could not be repeated.

The constituents of Hamilton West and Rutherglen were surely waiting for an unreserved apology and plausible explanation. Instead they were gifted a self-pitying attempt to excuse the inexcusable and direct attention elsewhere. It would seem Ms Ferrier has very little insight into why people are so angry at her actions and of the harm she might have caused by spreading the virus on her cross country journey.

Unfortunately for the politician she has underestimated voters' ability to hold two thoughts in their heads at once: the SNP may be at fault but so is she.

Margaret Ferrier might, in her own words, "work hard" but she risked infecting constituents with a deadly virus and undermined vital public health messaging. The only correct move is to resign.

Yet we're experiencing a political climate where those in power can act with impunity, meaning a reckoning may only come at the ballot box. Ms Ferrier should not make the electorate wait that long but it looks likely, astonishingly, that she will.