Disconnect is the word of the moment. It describes the distance between Tory MPs and voters over Boris Johnson, the PM and everyone else over lockdown behaviour, and the veritable chasm between conduct in Downing Street and every other workplace in the country.

But disconnect is a relevant word for Scottish Tories too. It describes Douglas Ross’ decision to distance Scottish Tories from its UK leadership and his inability to reach the logical conclusion of that decision – the creation of a separate Scottish Conservative Party.

If Scottish Tories had taken the plunge and made the break with the "nasty party" when Murdo Fraser first proposed it, the tricky business of advocating political union for Scotland whilst untying that knot at party level would be behind them.

But it isn’t. Instead, the prospect of "separating’ the Scottish party from its London mothership comes at the worst possible time, with 50% support for Scottish independence.

Conservatives are desperately seeking a halfway house, but listening to Professor Adam Tomkins on Sunday’s Good Morning Scotland, that exercise also seems doomed. Prof Tomkins believes Boris must be replaced as party leader and he agrees that Douglas Ross can’t viably tell local voters in May to back "a party led by a man we don’t want as Prime Minister" . "Those on the centre-right of Scottish politics need a credible vehicle for policies and the UK Conservative Party is not that vehicle," he said.

So far, so logical, and in tune with the 80% of Scots who want Boris Johnson to quit.

But then comes the baffling disconnect. Prof Tomkins doesn’t want a total split with the UK party lest Scotland becomes like Northern Ireland, with unique parties and no chance a local MP will ever become a UK Cabinet Minister. I’m not sure the absence of such promotion prospects grieves voters or politicians "over by", but still.

Tomkins’ proposal is that the party should create "a new fighting force, distinct from the UK Conservative brand and party" to fight Scottish Parliament (and presumably council) elections, whilst remaining part of the UK party structure for Westminster elections.

Whit? That’s a massive, whopping, untenable, screaming disconnect, worthy of the King of fag packet fantasies, Boris Johnson himself.

Prof Tomkins tries to get round the lack of logic or precedent for such a split political personality by purring sweetly about the "sophistication" and broad mindedness of the average Scottish voter "able to understand that structures can be different at UK and Scottish level".

Indeed, that’s true. With STV at local elections, an AMS top-up system for Holyrood and the inflexible, archaic first-past-the-post system for UK elections, Scots are well aware of the difference between proportional Scotland and "winner takes all" Westminster thinking. It’s part of the disconnect with fairness and modernity that drives the case for independence.

Some will also remember that Prof Tomkins’ party actually opposed proportional voting systems in Scotland at first, but then quietly accepted it at Holyrood when they couldn’t win seats any other way. But hey. Bygones.

Even if it’s a tad messy and a bit hypocritical, is the Professor right to think that flexibly-thinking Scots might thole a Jekyll and Hyde Conservative party set-up? Waving two fingers at Boris from Holyrood but praising him to the gunnels in Westminster? Good luck with that.

As long as Downing Street seems intent on re-enacting the Last Days of the Raj, and as long as the country wants Boris Johnson gone but must watch him stay put, reputational damage suffered at Westminster will extend to every "regional" Conservative outfit too "lightweight" to go the whole hog and sever ties completely.

More – the current meltdown in public trust isn’t just about one man, one Downing Street culture or even one Westminster-based political party. It’s about the way a disconnect between the government and the governed in Britain has created a culture of impunity.

Consider. Ireland had Golfgate, its own partygate scandal, when a group of present and former parliamentarians, judges, and the great-and-good attended a Covid restriction-busting golf gathering in August 2020. The political reaction was swift and dramatic. Resignations included the leader of the Seanad, the cabinet minister for agriculture, and Ireland's EU commissioner. Meanwhile, the trial of four people (including one serving TD) who allegedly organised the dinner, is set to conclude next month.

Then in 2021 there was ZapponeGate, another illegal lockdown party held to celebrate a controversial government appointment. The appointee subsequently withdrew.

The question is why misconduct caused ministerial heads to roll in Dublin, but not in London? Evidently, it’s not a matter of Irish politicians being inherently more honourable folk whose superior consciences forced them to fall on their swords. Ireland’s had decades of public inquiries into systemically corrupt politics.

As Irish commentator Claire McNab has observed, "what made the difference is a proportional voting system that leaves no safe seats in Dáil Éireann. That makes TDs vulnerable to angry constituents, with a wide range of choices at each election, including other candidates from the same party. So, to save their careers, TDs must stand up, publicly denounce miscreant colleagues and insist on resignations.’

By contrast, many English Tory MPs represent seats so safe they can hardly lose them if they try thanks to a first-past-the-post system neither main party plans to ditch – an inbuilt democratic disconnect which means angry citizens cannot exert enough pressure on MPs to produce rebellion or even a much-needed reality check.

Voting systems sound abstract, technical and boring but they indicate how much any parliament wants to empower its "sophisticated" electorate. In the case of Westminster – not at all.

The current chasm between public and Tory party opinion says something about the Conservatives but a lot more about the "Mother of Parliaments" – unresponsive by design. If Prof Tomkins has a work-around for that inconvenient truth, I’d be mightily impressed.

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