I’m still not quite sure why a Scotland Office (ie, UK Government) minister was convening a round table this week on the woes afflicting Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services. I doubt if he is either.

It is as plain as a painted-on porthole that ferries are a devolved responsibility and that failures of procurement and all that flows from them are the wholly owned property of the Scottish Government. So why pretend otherwise, except for a bit of mischief?

John Lamont, under-secretary of state at the Scotland Office, chose to pretend otherwise. “It would be remiss of me as a Scotland Office minister if I did not heed the growing chorus of voices alarmed that CalMac’s fleet is ageing and promised new vessels linger on blocks or the dockyard quay,” he intoned gravely.

No, Mr Lamont, it would not have been remiss. On the contrary, there is no provision in the devolution settlement for the reserved role of good shepherd, seeking out casualties of the Scottish Government in order to lend a sympathetic ear, leading to absolutely nothing.

If a Tory minister wants to research failures of government as they affect Scottish communities, there are plenty places to hold round tables: perhaps on how Brexit is working out for them, or where a frontline discussion on social security might be educational. Are there any planned?

Read more: Highland problems will only be solved by taking action on land

In other words, it would be better if UK and Scottish governments stuck to their respective knitting until they can work together. It is more difficult to complain about the Scottish Government grandstanding on matters for which it is not responsible if the Scotland Office is doing the same thing. Mr Lamont’s excursion should not set a precedent.

Having been there, I can empathise with the frustrations of any minister in the Scotland Office. It is an orphan of devolution, as it has been from the outset when it was set up without any programme budget. So no matter what table its ministers are sitting at, they can offer no more than goodwill, which is rarely the commodity that supplicants are looking for.

There are few decisions to make because there is no money to support them. Influence can be claimed but never proven. Alister Jack has found a niche role thanks to the Scottish Government’s penchant for pursuing court cases it is bound to lose. But that cannot be relied upon as a full-time occupation. Yet for anyone who wants devolution to work, the Scotland Office has an essential part to play, representing the Scottish interest in every aspect of government. Ideally, that would be a two-way process, working closely with the Scottish Government to promote mutual interest; the exact opposite of what exists, as the Covid Inquiry confirmed in stark terms.

If there is to be a Labour government later this year, and particularly if the party is again well represented at Westminster, then it should be looking at how the Scotland Office can be empowered as a positive force in Scotland as well as an influential player in Whitehall.

An SNP government in Edinburgh is unlikely to be any less allergic to working respectfully with a Labour-run Scotland Office than with the current incumbents. That will just have to be tholed until the Holyrood elections when voters can judge how to secure constructive co-operation between Edinburgh and Whitehall. It should not be a difficult decision.

Meanwhile, there is an urgent option available for mischief to be suspended, if there is any will to do so. Mr Lamont should stop holding round tables on devolved matters while Mr Yousaf might be persuaded to desist from fawning on the President of Turkey in Scotland’s name. Instead, let them join in a proclamation of working together on a mission of mutual importance - and meaning it.

I refer to the increasingly urgent need to prevent the offshore wind bonanza turning into another massive anti-climax while the big benefits go offshore. This is a matter on which Scottish and wider UK interests are inextricably intertwined, yet there is not the slightest sign of the two governments working together.

The Herald: Offshore wind is a compelling case for collaborationOffshore wind is a compelling case for collaboration (Image: PA)

Much (but by no means all) of the natural resource is in Scotland while many of the relevant policies and priorities are UK-wide. Scotland can have a huge generating capacity but needs the rest of the UK as a market to sell the power into. All that adds up to a perfect scenario for co-operating to make things happen and achieve outcomes of historic significance.

Nobody thinks that is the current reality. It is now over two years since the ScotWind licences were announced amidst a great fanfare of publicity about the “second industrial revolution” which it would give rise to. What might have happened next?

A high-level commission should have been established, co-chaired by UK and Scottish ministers. A real sense of challenge and opportunity could have been created with vital, shared priorities to address: planning, subsidy, skills, grid connections, ports infrastructure, transmission charging, community benefit and so on.

Read more: Wind energy: How is our ‘second industrial revolution’ coming along?

“The Scottish Lobby”, as it used to be known, might have been pressed into service on all these issues – a broad coalition of political parties, business and industry, trade unions, civic Scotland… but that doesn’t exist any longer because division between Edinburgh and Whitehall has become so partisan and toxic.

There have been warnings, notably from trade unions and Robert Gordon University, about the implications for jobs if the North Sea is run down without the offshore wind industry having been ramped up. Yet nobody has any joined-up picture of what is happening with ScotWind or what share of potential will come to Scotland or indeed the UK.

This is one example of why serious politics are needed with no time or place for game-playing. It needs to be recognised in deed as well as word that we have two governments and they must work together rather than against each other. For the sake of Scotland, that needs to become the reality, sooner rather than later.

Brian Wilson is a former Labour Party politician. He was MP for Cunninghame North from 1987 until 2005 and served as a Minister of State from 1997 to 2003.