TWO competing views have begun to emerge about what the resignation of Boris Johnson portends for Scottish independence. The most predictable one is that the prospect of a Labour Government under Sir Keir Starmer is now tantalisingly closer and that this, of itself, will make Nicola Sturgeon’s task of winning over soft No voters much harder.

The narrative around this is wearyingly familiar: that Mr Johnson’s iniquities and malfeasances were the SNP’s primary weapon in the constitutional debate and that the first Labour Prime Minister in 12 years will appeal to fragile Yes supporters who retain a residual loyalty to the mother ship. The campaign for independence has never been tested by a UK Labour Government or by the likely prospect of one.

It’s a little more complicated than this, though. The 2022 Labour Party has only a vestigial connection to that which exists in the mind of many of its former Scottish supporters.

READ MORE: War on the trade unions

Amidst all the snapshots cataloguing the three days of Boris Johnson’s Alamo there was one of Sir Keir. It emerged while he was providing reaction during day two of Mr Johnson’s last stand. The BBC had caught Sir Keir just before he and his wife were heading to Wimbledon and their reserved seats in the Royal Box. The cameras also caught the two massive Union flags which Sir Keir now deploys during interviews.

Boris Johnson had introduced this fetish not long after Brexit and Sir Keir, as he’s done throughout his leadership of the UK Labour Party, followed suit. It now seems though, that one large Union flag isn’t enough for the UK Labour leader: there must now be at least two. At this rate Sir Keir will soon be buying platinum jubilee wallpaper for his office and appearing in a Union flag suit with a photograph of HMS Refulgent - or some other piece of military porn – on his desk.

With each passing week Sir Keir’s leadership begins to resemble the plot of the Manchurian Candidate where the hero, a scion of a prominent US political dynasty, is captured and brainwashed by the Koreans and returns to become the unwitting pawn of a malevolent Communist conspiracy to subvert the American Way. The twin Union flags appeared a couple of weeks after Sir Keir had instructed his MPs not to appear on any picket lines during the RMT dispute, a diktat which broke new ground for a Labour leader.

It follows three years of backing the Conservatives’ foreign and economic policies – almost to the letter – and urging us all to work with Big Business; be loyal subjects of Her Majesty and salute the British Army. Anas Sarwar, manager of UK Labour’s branch office, is also swaddled in the Union flag. This has effectively reduced Scottish Labour to the role of holders-of-the-jaickets in Scottish politics.

The other, more credible view, is that the chaos of the Westminster political system and the stench of corruption which underpins it – exposed this week – will reinforce the messages of the independence campaign.

Some of Boris Johnson’s harshest critics have likened his desperate attempts to cling to power as an attempted coup in the manner of Donald Trump’s crazed Washington power-grab last year. This though is as fanciful as the suggestion by some prominent Tories that the 96-year-old Queen should activate her nominal role in the British constitution and remove her delinquent Prime Minister by some kind of Royal prerogative.

It’s more reasonable to conclude that Mr Johnson’s entire three-year premiership was a coup engineered by an extreme right-wing cabal hiding in plain sight within the Conservative Party and waiting for the right man and the right time to actuate their project.

Scared half to death by the proximity of Jeremy Corbyn’s authentic socialism in 2017 they chose Mr Johnson, a man whose personal proclivities and professional fecklessness was already known to them. But he was also a man possessed of the charm and charisma they lacked to embed an extreme Brexit in the Red Wall seats. They knew that he’d be unlikely to last a full term, as the words of one of Mr Johnson’s previous employers, the journalist and author, Sir Max Hastings, resounded in their ears.

In an article for The Guardian three years ago, Sir Max was withering in his assessment of what a Boris Johnson premiership would entail. He wrote: “It would be fanciful to liken the ascent of Boris Johnson to the outbreak of global war, but similar forces are in play. There is room for debate about whether he is a scoundrel or mere rogue, but not much about his moral bankruptcy, rooted in a contempt for truth.”

So, the Tory managers all knew that Britain would be disfigured by Mr Johnson as Prime Minister. This didn’t matter though, as – by then – the civic morality of the UK would have been so corrupted as to be anaesthetised to what the country had become.

Boris Johnson normalised state corruption, greed and malfeasance and they were all happy to indulge it – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, Ben Wallace and Priti Patel. His race for them having been run, they simply waited for the ideal opportunity to take him down before scrutiny fell upon them too.

In Scotland, scrutiny of ministers and politicians focuses largely on questions of competence and judgment and there are valid questions about the dominance of a mediocre managerial class at Holyrood. At Westminster though, avarice and contempt for the laws that oblige the rest of us to treat each other with a measure of respect and kindness are the pre-eminent vices.

In Britain right now three of the favoured candidates to succeed Mr Johnson have questions to answer about their links to shady financial dealings: very rich men congenitally programmed to seek any means to increase their wealth. They are a microcosm of modern Toryism.

Elsewhere in that 2019 article, Sir Max said this of Boris Johnson: “His premiership will almost certainly reveal a contempt for rules, precedent, order and stability.”

His words could equally have applied to what Britain has become under the UK Conservative Party. Boris Johnson was merely their patsy.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.