Commons Committee chair Tom Tugendhat is known as Tom Tugent***. Anthony Mangnall MP, who rebelled over cuts to foreign aid, is Anthony W***nall. Chief Tory whip Mark Spencer and his nicknames for rebel MPs are now common knowledge.

Childish, mangled and foul language in Tory High Command – it’s not what an MP expects from his own side or what the public expects from highly paid professionals. It’s just one own goal after another.

Still, you’ve got to say one thing for Boris Johnson. In his long, slow, ungraceful political demise the Tory leader is spring-cleaning as he goes, shining a light on dodgy aspects of Britain’s stale democracy and refreshing the parts other PMs would not dare to reach.

First, Boris Johnson shone a helpful spotlight on the scandal of MPs’ second jobs by his woeful mishandling of the Owen Paterson affair. This also served to kick open the fault-line between older "let them eat cake" Tories – impossible to dislodge in safe seats – and the 2019 intake who are disinclined to diddle the taxpayer by working elsewhere, conscious that their seats are highly marginal or insufficiently senior at The Palace to be offered directorships. Yet.

Then there were the shameful, disdainful parties at Number Ten which confirmed that there is indeed one set of rules for Downing Street insiders and another for everyone else – especially during pandemics. The impression of civil servants fiddling while hope burned in countless "ordinary" households is now impossible to dislodge.

And last week voters discovered that it’s normal for MPs to be threatened with the loss of funding for local capital projects if they don’t toe the party line. Suddenly the lack of rebellion in government ranks over Johnson’s serial failings makes perfect sense. Backbench Tories haven’t been happy with him – just too scared to take a stand.

And when did that start? Presumably, "coercive whipping" was commonplace under previous Tory and Labour administrations as well. So much for representing constituents. Most voters will now grimly conclude that the Thick of It was documentary fact, not fiction. Nice one Team Boris.

Faux-shocked denials don’t help but neither does "straight-talking". Stephen Kerr (MSP and former MP) insisted this weekend that the Commons is no House of Cards. "There are no thumbscrews being applied in there," he said, placing yet more colourful images and dangerous parallels into the minds of scunnered voters, certain they’ve being taken as idiots for decades by the Westminster Gentleman’s Club. Look at what passes for normal there. Look at the lack of internal restraint amongst those in charge. Look at the flimsiness of external constraints.

Most voters hadn’t created a parallel between Westminster and the truly demonic White House depicted in Netflix’ hit series, but thanks to Stephen Kerr and yesterday’s airy dismissal of thuggish tactics, they have now.

Johnson’s dwindling band of loyalists may naïvely hope that the torrent of revelations has so dulled voter sensitivities that each new negative story has a diminishing effect. They may also believe that allegations made by the political bed-hopper Christian Wakeford seem unreliable. Certainly, this Universal Credit-cut-supporting MP is ruffling feathers in the Labour Party.

But Wakeford’s latest assertion that Johnson has "poisoned his party from top to bottom" looks entirely credible, supported as it is by the avalanche of internal party leaks about recent events. Every point-blank, gravely-intoned denial by a Z-list Cabinet member simply invites more leaked texts, Whatsapp messages and even parliamentary entry-pass data by way of contradiction.

Mud sticks. And importantly for the future of the union, it’s being thrown at Boris disproportionately by the disillusioned north.

Douglas Ross was first to demand Johnson’s resignation, backed by all his fellow Scottish Tory MPs. No splits there.

Meanwhile in England, Partygate has exacerbated the divide between old and new MPs, northern and southern MPs, Red Wall and Blue Rinse Tories.

It’s significant that the first MP to take the plunge and cross the floor was a Red Wall Northern Tory, elected in 2019 with a tiny majority to represent Bury South. The fact Wakefield’s coat now sits on an even shooglier peg says something about him, something about the inadequacy of token gestures and a lot about the absence of genuine political options for North of England voters.

From a distance, they just look contrary.

Red Wall voters don’t trust London but didn’t back devolution 17 years ago. They did back Brexit even though it has decimated northern industries like car manufacture. They don’t much like the Tories now – opinion polls puts them 11 points behind Labour in the north – but they don’t much like Labour either. Despite Sir Keir Starmer’s attempt to put the ‘unpatriotic’ Jeremy Corbyn behind him with constant talk of Queen, country, army and Union flag, Northern voters are telling focus groups he seems inauthentic and indistinguishable from the Tories.

Above all, Red Wall voters don’t trust Tory promises to level up or a Labour Party that failed to make big enough changes in the Blair/Brown years. Sound familiar?

In many ways, the Red Wall in 2019 only did what Scots tried a decade earlier. Having finally understood that Westminster only notices electoral threat and opportunity, they abandoned political business as usual and crossed lines of allegiance that have held firm since the Second World War. But holding their noses and voting Tory only got Northerners so far. Now it’s clear that temporary disruption to a broken and discredited status quo is as far as they can go.

There is no alternative social democratic party waiting in the wings. There is no chance of outvoting the south. There is none of the internal cohesion that comes from being a nation and consequently, no decades-long campaign for self-government and no protective Northern Parliament.

So the Red Wall is stuck with a stark choice. Tweedledee or Tweedledum. And since Britain’s voting system hands massive power to marginal voters, their choice at the next election will be Scotland’s choice too. I wonder – are supporters of the union totally happy with that?

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