A YEAR that promised Scottish politics so much has delivered nothing new. Nationalists and Unionists, left and right, government and opposition: all are stuck in a rut. Given the trials and tribulations, to say nothing of an election – remember that? – which have marked the Scottish political year, it is remarkable that so little has changed.

Neither Alex Salmond’s trial nor Nicola Sturgeon’s subsequent tribulations were the game-changers more excitable commentators had predicted. All they really proved was that the Scottish Parliament is lousy at investigating the truth and clueless at holding ministers to account. Not that anyone seems to mind. Getting Scotland even to have a grown-up conversation about its chronically under-performing Parliament (never mind actually fixing the problem) seems quite beyond us just now.

The election result was nothing but a weary shrug and a resigned cry of carry on as you are (if you must). For the most part, the electorate gives the impression of craving a prolonged period of silence from its politicians. Scottish voters are as fed up with their politicians as the politicians are of the voters.

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The Nationalists are in the ascendancy, as they were a year ago. They are tired and exhausted and punch drunk and wholly without a plan to get from where we are to where they want us to be. Not especially interested in governing, they are condemned to continue in government, almost as miserable as their opponents that there really is no alternative. Scotland’s is a zombie government for a population grown so used to mediocrity it can’t remember any better.

Meanwhile, the Unionists are as divided as ever. The Tories are standing still and likely from here only to go backwards, dragged down by goings on in London they can neither control nor influence. Labour are as unsure as ever of where their vote is coming from.

For every four ex-Labour voters in Scotland, three have drifted to the SNP and one to the Tories. Do Labour go soft on the Union to get the SNP voters back, or hard on the hapless UK Government to get the Tory voters back? Unless and until they resolve that question, they have no future in Scottish politics, no matter how impressive Anas Sarwar may otherwise be as a campaigner.

Voters seem largely content with this endless stasis. There is no gnashing of teeth at the tediousness of it all. There is no hint of rebellion at the lousy state of our schools, at the scarily fragile state of our economy, or at the mountain of empty and broken promises piling up on the SNP’s watch. Politics has become small beer. Uncollected rubbish and unfilled pot-holes are as exciting as it gets.

So be it. Scotland is in a rut that keeps everyone in their comfort zone. Punters aren’t in the mood for challenging conversations about the difficult choices we face if we really want to see improvements. Unionists are content to do just enough to deprive the SNP of an overall majority without actually threatening the Nationalists’ grip on office. And the Nationalists keep themselves busy with their unique combination of selfies and grievances (both beloved of the cybernats), confident that Scots will carry on not noticing how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable it has all become.

For those of us who yearn for a different politics, three new year’s resolutions offer themselves – one for the Nationalists, one for the Unionists, and one for the people themselves.

To the government, resolve to start governing. Really governing. Use the powers at ministers’ disposal to make a material difference to the wellbeing of the people who live here. Instead of pretending that nothing can change until everything changes (ie, that nothing can be reformed until Scotland becomes independent) show the people of Scotland how much better we could be if only we were prepared to be honest about what it would take. Start with schools. Take on the dinosaurs of the teaching unions and revolutionise education. Take no prisoners and break whatever stands in the way.

To the opposition, resolve to get real. None of the opposition parties are going to get anywhere near power in Scotland until they break free of the millstones around their necks, divorce themselves from their London parties, and come together to offer a single, united front against the Nationalist ascendancy. That does not mean messing about on the lists, Alliance-for-Unity style. It means taking on the SNP, seat by seat, with a single opponent instead of splitting the anti-SNP vote three ways.

And to the people, resolve to wake up. We have a zombie government because we have become a zombie people. If you want independence the SNP can do no wrong (despite all the evidence to the contrary) and if you do not it’s hashtag SNPbad as if that is some sort of vote-winning strategy. It’s not. It’s the politics of the primary school playground and it’s pathetic. We have a failing and exhausted government, out of ideas, out of money, which in any other country would also be out of time. But, because of the lunacy of the way the opposition parties act, power is handed back to the SNP time and time again.

In 2022 we can choose to carry on in our bunkers, taking solace from our silo companions. We can carry on in our comfort zones if that is what we really want, and watch as schools slide, and as the economy falters, and as the policy rubbish piles up as high as Glasgow’s garbage bins.

Or we can admit to ourselves that we – all of us – have been asleep at the wheel for far too long and that we need to be much more honest about the dismal state of public policy in our country. We can be so much better than this, if only we want to be.

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