What was the talk of the steamie this Hogmanay with you? Surrounded by indy-supporting pals, politics dominated mine – and one question was being asked by everyone: Why do astonishing levels of ineptitude and bad faith demonstrated daily by the Westminster government not destroy faith in the Union or change the tilt of most newspaper headlines in Scotland?

Things are now so consistently bad, we have developed a Brexit shorthand. Stockpiling, John Redwood nonsense, Singapore-style Britain, NHS staffing crisis, £350 million lie, exchange rate, pension collapse, EU nationals betrayal – the farcical elements of Britain’s fall from grace are so well-rehearsed we need no more than a few proper nouns to place the latest burach in context. Yet despite the general perception that Westminster has mismanaged Brexit in every conceivable way, faith in that tarnished, self-harming, antiquated institution seems undimmed among many folk.

Take last week. The festive period courtesy of the Tories was like an episode of Dad’s Army – minus the laughs.

Boxing Day was blemished by Sajid Javid having to hightail it home from a luxury holiday to declare an emergency over 239 migrants risking everything to cross the English Channel. Theresa May then tainted Hogmanay by knighting pointless Tory MP Redwood to placate hardline Brexiteers. Hours later, jaws audibly hit the ground at news that Chris “cannae run a railway” Grayling gave a £13.8m contract to a company with no background in ferry transport. Seaborne Freight will run extra services in the event of a no-deal Brexit with as yet untested and unpurchased ferries.

As one tweet put it: “We’ve had a drone that wasn’t a drone, a ‘migrant swarm’ that is neither migrants nor a swarm and now we have a ferry company with no ferries. There’s some properly weird shit happening at the moment.”

Yip – the Tories have had a Christmas omnishambles but, mysteriously, next to no corresponding wave of public revulsion. There’s even been a serious suggestion that 2019 might see Boris Johnson clinch the Tory leadership. According to the FT’s Robert Shrimsley: “By any rational measure, it should by now be possible to dismiss the clown prince of Conservatism as one of those political adventurers whose charisma gave them a sight of the summit, but whose constitution was not cut out for the ascent. Lightweight, narcissistic and apparently unenthused by the hard work of governing, Mr Johnson looks like a man who has been found out. And yet, remarkably, it is still too early to write him off.“ What kind of country are we living in when a buffoon like Bojo is still in with a chance?

Actually, a fairly cruel one. Yesterday, it emerged that the Foreign Office has tried to recoup the cost of helping British women escape forced marriages abroad. Four young British women imprisoned and tortured at a “correctional” religious school in Somalia ahead of expected forced marriages had to borrow £740 each from the Foreign Office to return home, which contributed to them becoming destitute as they try to repay the loans. The same day, it was revealed that the UK’s richest people have almost doubled their wealth in 10 years. A decade ago the wealthiest 1000 people had a combined wealth of £256 billion; the same cohort now sits on £724bn.

This is deeply embedded structural unfairness – not something that crept into our lives during one ill-fated term of government. Chronic, life-shortening inequality is in with the bricks on Westminster’s watch. But still, its Parliament, voting system, political parties and enduring class system are supported or at least tolerated by millions of Scots – while the tiniest troubles at Holyrood are held up as fatal flaws.

READ MORE: Scotland has just been airbrushed from the whole Brexit process

The National:

One columnist recently wrote a powerful and scathing demolition of the Westminster-based parties and leaders, yet the headline above his piece was about Nicola Sturgeon’s determination to “bang on” about independence – even though that grumble took up a tiny fraction of his column. And even though Nicola Sturgeon actually hasn’t been “banging on” about independence.

It’s as if there is one set of standards and expectations (low) for Westminster and another (extra high) for Holyrood.

Why is that?

Well some folk just want to be British and that’s fine – it is after all a free world. Some are personally doing well despite everything and some doubt their ain folk could do any better. In fact, some have a deep emotional investment in the status quo and get irritated by the “naivety” of those who believe a more equal kind of society is possible. They can put all evidence of Westminster incompetence into a mental box labelled “incorrigible bounders” and commit smilingly to follow their “team” through thick and thin. Not despite Westminster profligacy and bad behaviour – but because of it.

Just as half the class always sides with the bully, a large chunk of the electorate is drawn to the elegant thuggery of Westminster and its public school playboys. Its supporters aren’t aghast at the childish tantrums, the naked self-aggrandisement or the rank stupidity, because in modern dystopian Britain, such behaviours are the only genuine markers of power and significance.

If you believe that might is right, then Westminster wins – its players regularly demonstrate their power by contemptuously breaking the rules. Rules and fairness are for lesser people – so SNP MPs eloquently exposing hypocrisy are actually bolstering the Flashman characteristics of Britain’s ruling party. They look and sound like winners, accustomed to wielding power and utterly expert at evasion and game-playing.

READ MORE: Uncertainty – it’s the one thing we can be certain of in 2019

In Tory Britain, suspicion is understandable. Competition is normal. The market is king. Brute force wins. Lying wins. And winning is all that matters. This bitter political outlook has infiltrated our lives, systems, adverts, education, TV programmes, presumptions and defaults for decades – even north of the Border despite the fact we have voted differently throughout. That’s the reason many of us want independence – nothing less than a total break from Britain will let Scotland break the spell, extract this nihilism from our souls and believe in better once again.

As it is, Scottish polite society seems to look down its collective nose at the dreamers, alternative builders, greens and lefties who talk about care, social justice and change while the Tories prepare for another dose of grim reality and political hardball. Yessers can look like softies, novices and well-meaning do-gooders compared to the hard-hearted pessimists running Westminster. I ken.

But that doesn’t mean change isn’t happening, quietly. Deciding to change the allegiance of a lifetime is a big thing. So there may be no avalanche or fanfare. But there is a slow drift away from the winner-takes-all society Britain has become. As one of the world’s most famous quotes goes: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”