When I was a child, my aunt used to tell me stories about her late father, my maternal grandfather.

Despite his modest status in life (he was a dustman) he was quite a difficult man to please. Once, when my aunt achieved 95 per cent in a school test, his only response was: "What happened to the five per cent?"

Late last week the Scottish Government reminded me of my hard-to-please grandfather. Driven by the depressingly predictable need to find fault with anything emanating from Westminster, the First Minister seized upon paragraph 4.2.8 of new legislative clauses intended to make good on the pre-referendum vow.

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It related to the Universal Credit, an incredibly ambitious, and therefore incredibly complicated, mechanism by which several benefits are to be combined and paid together rather than individually. Under the Smith Commission, elements of this are to be devolved to Scottish ministers, giving them discretion to create, in effect, supplementary benefits.

"For this reason", explains paragraph 4.2.8, Scottish ministers will be required to "consult" the Secretary of State for Scotland "so that he can ensure the deliverability of any changes�¨that the Scottish Government wish to take forward", while agreement would also be needed regarding the "date on which such changes are brought into effect".

The Command Paper (optimistically subtitled An Enduring Settlement) also makes a point of observing that the Secretary of State "could not unreasonably withhold his agreement", while there will be a similar obligation for the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to "consult Scottish Ministers" before making any changes that "relate to Scotland".

In any normal, mature multi-national state governed by grown-ups this would be such an utterly innocuous paragraph that a columnist wouldn't be wasting his or her time writing about it. But then that is not how things are done in the bold new Scotland of the post-referendum era. Here, now, if grievances could be made and sold for profit then the Scottish manufacturing sector would receive quite a boost.

As ever, the crucial test that ought to be applied is whether your average punter, who usually dips in and out of politics, cares about such things. The SNP would have us believe that, at the end of a busy day, regulars at a local bar in Falkirk are earnestly discussing the real meaning of the words "consult" and "agree" on page 49 of Command Paper 8990.

Of course they aren't, and to the extent anyone is outraged it is largely because a widely respected new First Minister and her generally well-regarded team of ministers, MSPs and officials have guided them, as slickly and cleverly as ever. At the same time this is disappointing, for in her first few weeks in office Nicola Sturgeon made great play of adopting a more ecumenical and less grandstanding style than her predecessor.

Throughout the Smith process she has made much of being a "constructive participant" in the process; only the Scottish Government has been anything but. The cross-party commission was set up to fail from the word go, while the SNP's participants displayed indecent haste when it came to condemning its recommendations. It's little more than Salmond-era opportunism and grievance with a smile on its face.

Thus, in her response to last week's Command Paper, Ms Sturgeon said it amounted to further "watering down" by Westminster, while the paragraph quoted above was "in effect a veto" over new welfare proposals; Scotland, meanwhile, would remain "tied to the UK's current austerity fiscal framework". There isn't a system of devolution anywhere in the world that could have delivered anything but that last criticism.

The SNP, of course, would know all about "watering down" proposals, having recently U-turned over its new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, and also a long-standing self-denying ordnance when it comes to voting on English-only legislation. And given the use of the word "veto", it might be worth bearing in mind that one of Ms Sturgeon's first acts as First Minister was to argue that Scotland ought to possess a "veto" over majority UK opinion regarding the EU.

If Smith had promised to devolve the welfare state in its totality then Ms Sturgeon might have a point, but then of course it did not. I suppose in a contorted sort of way her response was a compliment: that is, the UK Government ended up delivering so much of what it promised that the First Minister et al were compelled to latch on to technical trivialities.

As ever, it was instructive to observe "civic Scotland". The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and (once sensible) Scottish Trades Union Congress joined in the posturing rather than exercised independent thought, but if these organisations (not to mention the SNP) spent half as much time actually coming up with ways of tackling inequality rather than indulging in grievance politics, Scotland might be a better place. To hear some of their number endlessly praise "democracy" while behaving as if the referendum result didn't happen speaks for itself.

When all this was kicking off last week I was in the relatively tranquil surroundings of the Senedd (or National Assembly for Wales) in Cardiff Bay, one of my old journalistic stomping grounds. The main event of the day had been organised by the ever-interesting Electoral Reform Society, an organisation that mercifully has no interesting in tedious games of political ping-pong.

Its researcher Chris Terry delivered a lucid presentation wittily entitled "Everything you wanted to know about ... federalism", which basically concluded that the direction of constitutional travel was towards an increasingly "quasi-federal" UK. Indeed, last week's Command Paper, with its overarching fiscal frameworks and two-thirds majorities, frequently hinted in that direction.

As did its description of "shared" powers such as welfare, a fixture (as the ERS presentation made clear) of federal or quasi-federal constitutions the world over. Shared services require consent, discussion, co-operation and, ultimately, agreement if they're to work effectively. In fact, as Mr Terry concluded, a key question amid general constitutional reform ought to be "what powers should be shared at the UK level?" rather than "what powers should Scotland have?"

Wales has often led the way when it comes to innovative constitutional thinking, perhaps because there's more space in which to reflect and reach cross-party agreement (independence referendums, alas, tend to make that impossible). Today the generally excellent Institute of Welsh Affairs is even launching a "crowd-sourced" constitutional convention on the future of Wales and, of course, the wider UK.

Over the next eight weeks it will cover a number of different themes including two rather crucial questions, "what is the UK for?" and "if there's to be a Union what should it do?" In an unflashy way it's questions like that the UK Government is attempting to answer, and if the SNP were genuinely "constructive" they'd get involved instead of carping from the side-lines.