AFTER the worst ever UK Government defeat, on the EU Withdrawal Bill, and given the amendment requiring Mrs May to bring forward in three days a response (acceptable to Parliament) regarding the withdrawal, the Labour opposition had achieved a perfect position of advantage over Mrs May’s beleaguered team.

It simply needed to wait it silence till January 21, when Parliament would have required to be presented with a workable solution which, if unsatisfactory to the House, would have again been defeated.

It was well understood that if the defeat of the bill on January 8 immediately triggered the threatened confidence vote, the government would win. That is exactly what occurred, followed by Mrs May’s proposal for early cross-party talks, hopefully to identify means of resolving the parties’ concerns (which surely could have been programmed immediately after the date of Article 50), and designed clearly to shift responsibility for non-agreement away from her government.

The Labour party responded by demanding that “no deal” be firstly removed from any possible outcome, a red line which it must have been obvious would not be acceptable. Instead of achieving the desired (and available) upper hand, that party put itself in a defensive position which will no doubt be exploited by Mrs May. The naked ineptitude of the Labour party, aspiring to leadership in government, is frankly breathtaking.

This does not in any way camouflage or excuse the Tory party’s responsibility for the sorry mess into which the country has been dumped. It began with Ted Heath, followed by David Cameron and now Theresa May, all of whom have put party interests and ostensibly personal interest in the forefront of their actions, and in blatant neglect of the adverse conditions affecting the whole of the UK.

Claims are still being made, and heard many times in the past few days, that Westminster is recognised worldwide as the cradle of democracy and the mother of parliaments, that Britain is economically successful and strong, has the finest and most reliable security and will continue to play a major role on the world stage. If all of that is true, why should independence from the stranglehold of the EU be regarded as a disaster?

If true, why are at least 500,000 children living in poverty, why do millions (many in work!) depend on food banks for survival, why are there only 80,000 in total in the Army, why are there no planes for the single aircraft carrier, why cannot the elderly rely absolutely on a comfortable (and paid for) retirement or a ready treatment for illness, why is the NHS constantly under-funded, why must reliance on foreign investment be necessary to service industries which were not so long ago British, why is a bedroom tax essential, why are the police numbers the lowest ever? The list goes on and on. The UK is in danger, if not already there, of becoming an international laughing stock.

The truth is that the assurances and claims trotted out by Westminster do not stand up to real scrutiny. A further truth is that the Westminster system of government is anachronistic and frankly unfit for purpose, no longer capable of adequate performance. The Westminster system and the grandiose edifice it houses, have a common ailment which is that both are crumbling and no longer capable of providing for the needs of a 21st-century country.

The resources – natural, sociological and intellectual – of the Scottish nation need only be tapped to produce success. The incentives and abilities are there. The reasons, not the “excuses”, for Scotland to disentangle itself from the suffocating strictures of Westminster have not been more real than they are right now, and the means of so doing are available.

The nation of England is not in that happy position and must,within the constraints which their establishment condescends to relax, make such administrative alterations as they see fit. Scotland has seen during the last 300-plus years what must not be allowed to happen and will have with freedom the ability to avoid such incompetence. The people of Scotland deserve no less. Westminster’s ideologists cannot change radically enough either to correct their inadequacies or their history-based motivations, and will no doubt stumble on into even more political mire – Scotland must not be dragged in their wake. The time has indeed come for the Scottish people, of every political persuasion, to recognise that it can and will do better, which its descendants deserve and for which they will forever be thankful.

J Hamilton