WITH one bound Ian Blackford shook up the House of Commons and shook off the respectability that was suffocating the SNP. It’s been long overdue, not just because the so-called “Mother of Parliaments” has become a charade but because seeking to be honourable members of a British institution was doing no favours for the independence cause.

That was evidenced last June when seats were lost as SNP voters became disorientated with the direction pursued by Nicola Sturgeon – rushing towards a second referendum only to pull back again – and being disillusioned by a party seemingly comfortable in an arena it’s pledged to leave. Fifty-six of them had marched into the chamber under Angus Robertson only for him to glue their backsides to the green leather for what purpose only he can answer. For sure, he was often outstanding at Prime Minister’s Questions but that neither precluded a more robust stance nor did his tactics win any favours from the British state. His desire to make the SNP the real opposition was not only always doomed to failure through parliamentary arithmetic but damaging for a cause that rests on challenging, not being craven to the institution.

It wasn’t just the antics of earlier in the week that showed the worst of Westminster. It’s been a long time coming. From the days of Governor Generals with no electoral mandate but a zealous desire to dictate to the Scots what was good for them, through to today when Scotland’s views on EU membership and the so called “settled will of the Scottish people” are treated with contempt.

The behaviour of individual members was reprehensible and by that I don’t mean Mr Blackford’s perfectly legitimate use of parliamentary rules but the abhorrent comments on “suicide” from a supposed Tory grandee. That was compounded by the Speaker’s perverse interpretation of the rules to deny the SNP Westminster leader’s political coup.

Despite what a few zealots have called for, it doesn’t mean that the SNP group has withdrawn never to return. There is no political basis in Scotland for abstentionism and it would not be politically popular ... but it does mean an end to the former cosy relationship that was going nowhere and dispiriting many.

The model for the SNP isn’t Sinn Fein but its predecessors in the Irish Parliamentary Party. Under the great Charles Stewart Parnell it flourished in the chamber when it suited, but never forgot that its purpose was to leave. Hopefully, that will now be the template for the modern SNP, allowing the good work on the rape clause and other issues to be pursued but recognising that it isn’t its parliament and it is not respected there. It doesn’t mean being rude or malicious, simply ending the far too supine posture that has been taken and being more robust in defending Scotland’s interests.

The faux outrage from many is ludicrous. Westminster is a myth rather than a great legislature. It’s outdated as the millions to be spend upgrading it disclose and its procedures are archaic and far from democratic. It has always been the case that the executive called the shots but at least a veneer of legitimacy was sought. Allocating just 15 minutes for an issue of such huge constitutional significance made a total mockery of even that.

But, it has been ever thus and the contempt shown to the Scots is long-standing, pre-dating even the appalling hostility first experienced by Winnie Ewing when elected as a Nationalist MP in 1967. That had equally been felt by the Red Clydesiders when elected almost a century ago and who also were excluded – and walked out.

Westminster is designed to crush not just third parties but to display the power of the British state. In a book on the signing of the treaty for the establishment of the Irish Free State Michael Collins recalled being walked down a corridor where there stood a bust of every premier from Pitt the Elder and a painting of every monarch from the Plantagenets. It was designed to intimidate those seeking to leave the empire.

Equally, the hypocrisy of many in that institution reminded me of a tale told by Willie Gallacher, the former Communist MP who had gone to the hallowed halls in the early years of the First World War to lobby against the forced deportation from Glasgow of leading shop stewards. There instead he heard Sir Edward Carson seek not their right to remain but their imprisonment for treason and spoke – and was – heard without any irony despite having supported the Curragh mutiny and formed the UVF.

So it has been ever thus and change is long overdue, besides being absolutely essential. As well as a change in attitude towards Westminster a change in the wording of the argument by the SNP is equally welcome. A constitutional power grab it may be but it’s dry as dust and doesn’t ignite the passions. Mentions of the consequences, whether chlorinated chicken or NHS privatisation, are long overdue and will resonate more.

The naivety of the Brexiters in the marvellous trade deals awaiting the UK on leaving the EU is shown in the current relationship between the US and Canada. The idea of a special relationship between the UK and US is shown as not so much wishful thinking but downright delusional in what’s happening across the 49th Parallel. Canada is the US’s closest ally yet is being bullied and harassed over trade. Whilst Donald Trump courts a North Korean despot both he and his surrogates have been venomous towards the moderate Premier Justin Trudeau. His crime is to have the courage to not lie down to American demands over trade tariffs and the audacity to seek to protect core Canadian interests on dairy and steel. The idea that the US would not demand its terms on chlorinated chicken in our food sector or Kentucky Fried Medicine in our health service is absurd.

This isn’t about constitutional niceties but the very society we seek. For that reason it's right that Ian Blackford spoke out and the SNP robustly defend Scotland interests, whether in a parliamentary fashion or otherwise.