BETWEEN them Prince Andrew and the Prime Minister represent everything about Britain which needs a stake driven through its heart.

They are men of thoughtless, reckless privilege, of casual destruction – devoid of empathy, sneering at those ‘beneath them’, vastly under-qualified to wield the power they hold.

They live gilded lives, yet treat the lives of others with a brutal callousness. They’re cosseted and pampered, fawned upon. Never accountable – always playing by rules different to the rest of us. Always with a deck loaded in their favour. There’s a cruelty and narcissism to them both which is repellent.

Andrew is accused of having sex with a young woman trafficked by the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. As the allegations unfolded, a portrait of Andrew emerged – a stupid, ill-educated man wrapped up in his own deluded sense of self-importance and gratification. A man who thinks he’s above the common people, untouched by our cares, our morals. Petty, idle, lacking in humility or fellow-feeling. Greedy, venal, dull. Cowardly, craven, protected. All this on the public purse – all this while posing to the world as a leading representative of Britain.

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Since Johnson first emerged into public life – from the chrysalis of Eton, Oxford and the Bullingdon Club – he’s shown himself to be nothing but a cheap villain with an expensive accent. In 1990, he was recorded in conversation with his friend Darius Guppy seemingly plotting to have a reporter assaulted. The reporter was investigating Guppy, who was later jailed for staging a fake £1.8million jewellery heist. Johnson was a journalist for The Daily Telegraph.

Guppy wanted Johnson to get him the reporter’s address. He liked the idea of the reporter suffering a “couple of black eyes” and a “cracked rib”. On a recording, Johnson appears to indicate he’s happy to help: “OK, Darry, I said I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Don’t worry.”

In his career as a journalist, Johnson made up quotes at The Times. This should have finished any career, but he strolled into another job in Fleet Street. The old school tie paving a path of continual success and reward. In print, he could insult black people, gay men, Muslim women, single mothers without any fear of consequence. The BBC embraced him as a ‘character’, and put him on shows like Have I Got News for You where he reinvented himself as an upper-class eccentric.

Johnson lies reflexively. Listing his lies would exhaust the pages of this newspaper. But he faces no penalty. He acts with impunity as he has so much of the media in his pocket. The former editor of The Spectator is embraced by London’s right-wing press. He shunned the BBC’s leader interviews, humiliating and shaming the channel – it’s been accused of bias and complicity for grilling other leaders and letting Johnson off the hook.

The broadcaster deserves little sympathy. It brought its woes on itself, and, like many who fall into Johnson’s orbit, seems content to trash what remains of its reputation while he prospers. Simultaneously, Channel 4 is threatened for empty-chairing a PM too afraid, too arrogant, to be publicly tested.

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Johnson and Andrew. These are our leaders – our royals and politicians. Protected by money, class, and a shield of fawning hangers-on. Blind to the lives of others. They bring to mind the line from F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, reflecting on the cruelties of the idle rich: “They were careless people – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Andrew, who denies the allegations against him, won’t be questioned by police over the allegations against him despite his accuser, Virginia Roberts, asking the British people to stand by her. Today, Roberts not only personifies a new wave of MeToo, she also represents a growing groundswell of disgust directed at those who believe they’re born to rule at our expense.

Johnson could well be Britain’s next Prime Minister, with his Tory Party on 42% in the polls to Labour on 33%.

That these two men can still stand at the pinnacle of power in Britain is all the proof you need that the nation is rotten in its core. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I don’t for a moment propose to say that either Jeremy Corbyn or Nicola Sturgeon are perfect – far from it. Unlike many commentators, I don’t do hagiography. But neither Sturgeon nor Corbyn live in the avaricious, amoral world of Johnson and Andrew. They represent a break with the world of Johnson and Andrew.

Corbyn is deeply flawed, but it’s plain as day that he’s a man who cares about ordinary people. Sturgeon has shown herself to be a woman of integrity and decency, who wants to make society better for folk at the bottom. Her track record in Scotland, though, on education and hospitals, isn’t good, and the mantra of independence can become wearying even for independence supporters.

The SNP also represents the status quo now in Scotland, and has become complacent. But like Corbyn, I neither fear nor loathe Sturgeon. I find myself respecting her – an unusual feeling for me when it comes to politicians.

The truth is that for the first time in my life I was considering whether to abstain from voting in this election – such is my present disgust at power and politics. However, Labour’s essential decency and Sturgeon’s intelligent and dignified performance during TV debates changed my mind.

There are people worth voting for – politics isn’t just a vile, venal mess. If I lived in England, I’d have no hesitation voting Labour. Despite Richard Leonard also being a man with his heart in the right place, though, Labour is a meaningless entity in Scotland.

Although my politics have greened considerably over the years, the Green Party isn’t standing in my constituency. As a centre-left, moderate supporter of independence – I certainly don’t do flags or marching – it’s almost inevitable I’ll now end up voting SNP.

I’ll have to hold my nose – I despise the party’s angry, ugly, exceptionalist base – and it won’t be my local candidate wooing me. The party gets my vote solely down to its leader. Without her, they wouldn’t be so lucky.

What matters to me is cleaning out the Augean stables of British public life before it’s too late, before the tide of filth drowns us all. I want rid of those who personify the protected privilege of those in power – at the top of that stinking heap sits Andrew and Johnson.

Neil Mackay is Scotland’s Columnist of the Year