THIS has been coming. The hysteria and outrage at the expulsion of the ‘Tory 21’ is real, I don’t doubt, but for those detached from the emotion of the matter it is both a logical and unsurprising consequence of a narrowing outlook.

The Tory party is deep into the process of recreating itself. If this were a Venn diagram, there would be a circle of current and old Tory voters, and a circle of future Tory voters, and, whilst the overlap is naturally fairly large, the base moves decisively.

The media, in general, portrays this as a shift to the right, but that is much too simplistic. In some cases (such as, say, a tough-on-crime message) the platform could be portrayed as right wing, but in others (such as tax cuts targeted at the poor) it could easily be portrayed as a message for the left.

The more accurate label is that is an English nationalist agenda. English nationalism is the sleeping giant of British politics. For 20 years the English have seen substantial shifts of legislative power to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and with it the continuation of equally substantial financial subsidies. To add insult to injury, the English have seen their northern neighbours, in particular, use this subsidy to offer people here a series of ‘freebies’ including university tuition, to which the English are not entitled. The disproportionate financial disparity has accompanied disproportionate political attention, as Westminster politicians of all colours have flapped in a hapless attempt to maintain and strengthen the Union.

The English nation has had no outlet during this time. It has had no governance structure; it has had no political party; it has had no voice. Brexit woke the sleeping giant. English patriotism, and nationalism, expressed itself loud and clear in that vote, and the logical next step was to find a political party to represent it. They have chosen the Conservatives, and the Conservatives have chosen them.

It is important to stress that there is nothing improper in this. English nationalism is a perfectly legitimate movement. Englishness is a perfectly legitimate identity. Much as we in Scotland want to believe that our version of nationalism is all that is holy, the only difference is that ours can more easily be portrayed as being mostly of the left, and theirs can more easily be portrayed as being mostly of the right. Both have equal moral weight.

But actions have consequences. And for the Conservative party, there are two major long-term consequences to the narrowing of the party which is epitomised by the purging of the 21. The first is that narrow parties don’t endure. The narrowing of the Tory party’s parliamentarians – which currently includes social liberals and social conservatives, internationalists and protectionists, Europhiles and nationalists – to those designed to appeal to a much more targeted cohort, creates a long-term problem. In the short-term, driven by Brexit chaos, this shift may scrape an election win, but there is very little international evidence to suggest that the success of a narrowing party can last.

Indeed, the Tories need not look far to see what happens when you turn your party into a cult. The moderates who, for reasons bypassing common understanding, remain members and parliamentarians for the UK Labour party, are now hopelessly outnumbered by the hardest left and most morally questionable party of government or opposition which has ever sat in the House of Commons. That we regard Labour’s association with Marxism, its fetishisation with oppressive regimes like Venezuela’s, and its omnipresent problem with anti-Semitism as par-for-the-course, is a sure sign of just how far from the mainstream that party has become.

It may be in doubt that Boris Johnson can secure a majority at the election, but it is not in doubt that Jeremy Corbyn cannot.

And whilst I am not, for a moment, suggesting any moral equivalence between English nationalism and Marxism, in the final analysis the effect on the parties’ electoral prospects may be similar.

The second consequence will be felt here in Scotland. For ten years the Scottish Tories have openly discussed the electoral impact of their association with the UK party. And, ahead of their time, they have concerned themselves with English nationalism for much longer. Indeed I recall the late David McLetchie, for whom I worked in the early part of this century when Scottish nationalism was weak, used to regularly teach this young researcher that the biggest risk to the UK was the rise of English nationalism. How right he was.

The Scottish Tories will need to respond. The backwoodsmen in the party who, to paraphrase Boris Johnson from earlier this week, will die in a ditch for a unified UK Conservative structure, are likely to find themselves tethered to a party in England whose own electoral advantage is best served by the antithesis of Unionism.

Whether the reformers in the party, who see themselves tied to the tracks with a train on the way, can persuade their colleagues that English nationalism represents an existential threat not just to the Scottish Tories but to the Union, remains to be seen.

All of this is not to criticise Dominic Cummings or Boris Johnson. Cummings is, in my view, the pre-eminent political strategist of his time. Throwing personal insults at him in the House of Commons and vilifying him in the media probably makes the morally superior sleep better at night, but I suspect it will not bother Cummings a jot.

And the opprobrium being heaped on Johnson tells me that the political classes are utterly unprepared for the possibility, however remote, that he might succeed.

Cummings and Johnson are engaged in an almighty all-or-nothing gamble, and it seems clear to me that they know precisely what they are doing. They may lose the game, of course, but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand the playing field.

And the playing field is rather simple. The Tories will sacrifice swathes of seats in Scotland and the south of England to the SNP and the Lib Dems, as part of the same English nationalist strategy that they hope will deliver them significantly larger numbers of gains in Labour marginal seats in the Midlands and the north of England.

This is not to condone or condemn the Cummings/Johnson plan. It is merely to point out that, for those who remain capable of unemotional and rational thought, we are in the midst not of a short-term Brexit crisis, but a long-term realignment of our politics.

As the two main parties narrow, they leave two large gaps. The real question of our time is who will fill them?