THIS is what you might call a Tale of Two Parliaments. There’s the one down in Westminster which is mired to this day in the archaic conventions of feudalism. Every morning, behind closed doors, members of the House of Commons, rise, turn to face the wall behind them and recite a Christian prayer led by an Archbishop of the Church of England, to “heartily beseech our heavenly Father, high and mighty, king of kings, lord of lords to bestow favour on our most Gracious Sovereign”.

Once a year, roads are closed in the west end of London to allow the monarch to parade in a horse-drawn carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to preside over the state opening of Parliament.

On her arrival, an elaborate ritual then gets under way, in which the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars for gunpowder, and a random MP is taken hostage and held prisoner for the rest of day.

Meanwhile, men in fancy dress led by Black Rod carry into the chamber a 300-year-old diamond-encrusted mace whose almost sacred status means that in its absence Parliament cannot meet or pass any laws.

READ MORE: Liam Fox: Brexit vote 'pointless' unless Theresa May can win

This is a parliament where half the MPs were educated at private and selective schools, and almost 30% went on to study at Oxbridge, compared to just 1% for the general population. This is a parliament stuffed with multi-millionaires whose £74,000 parliamentary salary is just a bit of extra pocket money. This is a parliament whose most memorable decisions in recent years have included approving – by an almost three to one majority – an illegal and catastrophic overseas war whose murderous consequences will continue to reverberate across the world for a generation to come.

And deregulating the banking system, paving the way for a calamitous financial crash and a decade of rising poverty, falling incomes and decimation of local public services. And calling a Brexit referendum which has since unleashed a Frankenstein’s monster of racism and xenophobia, threatening the livelihoods of millions and putting at risk peace in Ireland.

Congratulations, Westminster on these magnificent achievements. And on turning the “Mother of all Parliaments” into a worldwide laughing stock. Basil Fawlty must be eating his heart out and Guy Fawkes must be laughing in his grave.

The other parliament up here in Scotland is still a teenager, not quite 20 years old. But as well as being younger, leaner and fresher, it’s also wiser, and, crucially, more tuned into the real world.

READ MORE: Blackford warns Chancellor DUP bribe would be 'indefensible'

For a decade, the idea of a Scottish Parliament was anathema to a wide array of wealthy vested interests, from the landed gentry to the banking and business elites. The Tory Party fought a desperate rearguard action to stop it coming into existence. And although the people of Scotland backed it resoundingly, there was still a hardcore bloc of more than a quarter of the electorate which voted against it at the 1997 devolution referendum.

Today, apart from the ravings of a few anonymous online trolls using multiple identities, no-one seriously argues for going back to the days when Scotland’s affairs were carved up behind closed doors by a Scottish secretary handpicked by the prime minister in London.

At various stages over the past 20 years, that would have put John Reid, or Douglas Alexander, or Danny Alexander, or Alistair Carmichael, or Jim Murphy or David Mundell in charge of Scotland’s health, education, justice, local government, transport, environment and other devolved areas.

The National:

Instead we’ve had an open, modern, democratic parliament which has carried through a whole host of pioneering reform. Free personal care for the elderly. Free tuition fees for students. Free prescriptions for all. Free bus travel for the over 60s and people with disabilities. Free eye tests and dental checks. An end to council house sales. The abolition of warrant sales and the wiping out of poll tax debts.

Land reform, including freedom to roam legislation and the expansion of community ownership. World-leading climate change targets.

The smoking ban. Minimum alcohol pricing. The most progressive equal marriage rights in Europe. A fairer voting system for council elections. Extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year olds. The effective abolition of the bedroom tax. Increased protection for our most important landscapes and marine areas. A major reduction in violent crime. The biggest living wage accreditation programme in the UK.

I’ve never been slow to criticise the current Scottish Government – and its predecessors – but its biggest weaknesses have mostly been of omission rather than commission. We’re still stuck with the council tax, for example – John Major’s hastily cobbled together replacement for the fatally wounded poll tax.

But the biggest omissions have been forced upon Scotland by the half-way house arrangement that is in the nature of devolution.

READ MORE: Corbyn 'could back' People's Vote despite preference for Brexit

The positive example that Holyrood has set to the rest of the UK and Europe could be multiplied with full powers over defence, foreign policy, taxation, trade, pensions, social security benefits, employment legislation – and our currency.

The biggest barrier to achieving these powers is our lack of self-belief, sometimes disparagingly but understandably referred to as the Scottish cringe. One of the main goals now of the independence movement must be to infuse the country with national self-confidence. Not in the arrogant, swaggering chauvinistic fashion of the Little Englanders leading the charge of the Brexiteers, but by patiently contrasting the strengths of Scotland with the wretched incompetence and mouldy traditionalism of Westminster.

Yes, it’s been around for a long time. Far too long. It’s no longer fit for purpose. Never mind the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the people of England deserve better, too. And maybe in the future, an independent England will turn the Houses of Parliament into a museum as they build an outward-looking, forward-looking society inspired not by feudal monarchs but by brave democratic visionaries such as the Levellers, the Chartists and the Suffragettes.