BY way of differentiating between lifetime nationalists and those who came lately to the cause I often deploy a rudimentary model.

For many who were evangelised in the course of 2013/2014 independence was a preference rather than an imperative.

This was a way of saying that in the event of defeat we could easily live with the status quo and get on with the everyday business of living as UK citizens. After all, it’s not as if we were being made to endure an occupation by a bandit state. We could have had worse neighbours than England. 

Now though, it’s official: Scotland belongs to a union governed by a rogue state. Certainly, there have been several years of delinquent behaviour by the last three Conservative administrations.

Such conduct now defines the Cummings/Johnson/Gove regime. The moral obscenity of the Windrush scandal and creating a hostile environment for UK citizens of West Indies and Caribbean origin fed directly into the overt racism of the Brexit campaign.

The contempt for Parliament and the UK’s own system of justice during the prorogation chaos in 2019 was further indication that the British Government was losing sight of its moral bearings.

Since then we’ve seen a procession of shady multi-million-pound corrupt transactions brokered shadily for sub-standard personal protection equipment during lockdown. Much of this carries echoes of the dark money used to oil the Brexit campaign and the fighting funds of assorted Tory MPs.

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The contemptuous flouting of lockdown restrictions by Dominic Cummings and his cheerfully brazen response lethally undermined his Government’s life-preserving messages. Senior civil servants have departed Whitehall rather than be contaminated by the open sewer that flows from this administration.    

Alongside this, the Conservatives’ disdain for Scotland has been unmistakable and implacable.

It started the day after the independence referendum with David Cameron’s English votes for English laws and continued with the exclusion of Scottish ministers from Brexit negotiations and the hijacking of the Sewell Convention.  

This week, BBC Scotland’s decision to scrap Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus updates came days after a visit to Glasgow by Tim Davie, the corporation’s new Tory-facing Director-General. Mr Davie’s role appears eerily similar to the function of Soviet political officers who were attached to military exercises to ensure there was no deviation from the authority of the politburo and no mutinous behaviour.

You get the impression that the UK Government would rather its public health messages came via the Muppet Show to bring them into line with Downing Street’s amateur-hour productions.  

Britain’s status as rogue state was confirmed this week with its stated intention to ignore its legal obligations under two international treaties – the Withdrawal Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement. The consequences of this for our international trading future and sacred human rights protections are dire. The damage to the UK’s global reputation as a state where the rule of law runs firmly and smoothly is also fatally damaged.

In less enlightened times we often referred to rogue states in Latin America or Africa as banana republics, but what would you call the current iteration of Britain? All that Boris Johnson requires to complete our transmutation into pariah state is a peaked cap, a white uniform, some fake military ironmongery across his chest and a pair of cheap sunglasses. He is a tin-pot general in his own tea-leaf republic. 

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For him red lines exist to be smashed rather than heeded. With each one he crosses the nation becomes more desensitised to the concept of outrage. What we once perceived to be uncivilised or morally unacceptable becomes less so. We become anaesthetised and subdued by a sense of familiarity and a resigned presumption of the Prime Minister’s dishonesty. He and Dominic Cummings play for this.

We are approaching a tipping-point in Scotland’s history where all conventional routes to remove ourselves from a feral, outlaw state have been exhausted. In every election in every political jurisdiction over 10 years comfortable majorities for an independence mandate have been delivered. The Brexit referendum result in Scotland was a reversal of England’s. Next year, the SNP are on course to be returned to Holyrood with another record majority amid a series of polls edging ever closer to a 60% Yes vote.  

Johnson though, continues to refuse a section 30 order. Going by his administration’s contempt for international law neither would he feel obliged to recognise any court judgment in the event of a successful legal challenge to the UK Internal Marketing Bill. In such a scenario Scotland would be reduced to an utter irrelevance: deemed unworthy of a moment’s consideration in anything concerning its own future let alone outright independence.  

In these circumstances it’s unthinkable for Nicola Sturgeon not to consider other avenues. Already, I would have expected a degree of quiet diplomacy to have been conducted with Europe.

What would their response now be to a wildcat referendum and a potential declaration of independence? As the UK exits its transition period as a pariah state after breaching an international treaty and with the US congress refusing to pass a future trade deal because of our treatment of Ireland there must be a possibility of more international sympathy and understanding for the plight of a Scotland that can’t get England to recognise its right to self-determination.  

This is potentially a constitutional game-changer and the SNP should be gathering its best brains to exploit it. However, the party leadership and its dysfunctional National Executive Committee seem more concerned with keeping its best people away from the action. There is a perception among the Westminster group of MPs that they are being largely excluded from the secretive party praesidium which chooses tactics and amendments as this bill progresses over the next two weeks. 

Some, like Joanna Cherry, have been here before. Last year she played a starring role in persuading Scotland’s highest court to agree that Johnson’s prorogation of the UK parliament was unlawful. Her knowledge of this terrain and her connections in Brussels amount to a national asset. This is not a time for the party leadership to be pursuing self-indulgent vendettas but for assembling a force best qualified to oppose and defeat the mafia that has subverted Westminster.