TONY Blair wantit tae merge the Scottish an English fitba leagues, tae improve cultural cohesion owre the hail UK. This is aboot seven hunner an fifty places ablow “Invadin Iraq” an “bein pally wi evil craiters” on the lang leet o foul pish this hell-bound fud did while heid o government. But this fitba notion o his is an ettle worth haein anither luik at this week.

Let’s follae the fitba story. Whan he wis Prime Minister, in atween pittin the labour movement tae deeth an invading several countries, he becam, in his ain wirds, “obsessed” wi creatin a British fitba league. He thocht it wad gie Brits an area o cultural convergence, ta oppose the cultural divergence stairtit bi Holyrood. Essentially he wis a bitty sweirt tae gie us Scots a devolved parliament wioot takkin somethin aff us. A British League in place o a Scottish ane, he thocht, wad foster a mair unitit sense o Britishness.

This isnae an airticle aboot fitba. It’s aboot whit the British state is willin tae destroy here in Scotland in order tae stabilize its ain base. But stick wi us.

Imagine fir a whilie whit wad be the fate o oor teams an oor toons had we neer had oor independent Scottish league setup. The famous sicht o Aiberdeen winnin nae just the ane but twa muckle European championships wad be hae been tint. Aiberdeen wadnae be ony place near the tap o the British League, so wadnae hae got a pop at Europe.

The mighty Dundee United hae beaten Barcelona FOWER times, never haein drawn or lost a gemme tae the Catalan giants. Kilmarnock, Rangers, Celtic, even Raith Rovers haed their cracks at glory in Europe. As an independent league, we’ve reached oot owre the sea an been a pairt o the wider wab o European cultural life.

Owre the last few years, we’ve seen Ross County, Hearts, Hibs, Aiberdeen, Callie Thistle, an o course Celtic again an again, aa win major cups an hae their day in the sun, tooerin abuin aabdy else in the Scottish fitba landscape. These are huge moments fir great skelps o oor population. They bring fowk thegither, gie them positive connections, mak them feel a pairt o a ticht wee community. They foster a sense o Scottishness.

Oor Scottish gemme is a success story. It’s the best supportit league in Europe, per heid o population. Fir aa the umpteen calamities o oor national team, or ma ain dear Dundee United cowpin owre their ain arses an tummlin doon the leagues, there’s a domestic success story. Just hae a keek doon at Achinleck Talbot, the junior side wha blootered Championship Ayr United at the weekend, an see whit joy an excitement the domestic gemme can bring.

Truly if the magnificence o the Scottish fitba warld didnae exist, we’d hae tae create it.

Yet the British Prime Minister, a theoretically Scottish ane nae less – though I imagine he’s a sugar an milk tae his porage sort o cheil – was willin tae cowp the successfu Scottish gemme ontae the midden, destroy it completely, in favour o better UK integration.

Through his attitudes tae oor vital national gemme, an aa the history, the promise o future glory that’s insnarlt wi it, we catch a glisk o exactly whit they think aboot oor ither vital institutions. Whit benefits us isnae the question. Whit’s succesfu here, whit’s guid fir us here, is aa fine an dandy until it’s in their road. Then it’s as guid as deid. Devolution. Oor parliament is certainly aulder than the fitba – the Scottish parliament merely bein reconvened in 1999 – but Holyrood is still beddin in tae oor collective consciousness. It doesnae yet hae the deep roots o Stark’s Park, the stories associatit wi Hampden or the razzmatazz o Celtic Park on a European night. But it is vital tae wha we are as a young, reemergent nation.

It’s an airt whaur Scots born aa owre these islands, the continent, the warld, come thegither an think an blether an haver an debate aboot whit Scotland is, whaur it should ging next, an whit it shoud luik like daein it. Policy documents, think tanks, debates, it’s aa done in the wee Holyrood crucible o nation-makkin. Weel should Tony Blair hae been feart o the ramifications fir the UK o gien Scotland a devolved parliament. Holyrood mibbie isnae yet up tae full steam, an wilnae be until we’re politically independent, but it’s still a forge wi eneuch heat that the foondations o a new nation may be wrocht in it.

An noo, through the clusterbourach o Brexit, Holyrood is bein devalued. Baith Scotland and oor parliament votit decisively against Brexit. Yet naebody doon sooth batted an ee. It wasnae in keepin wi their direction o traivel, sae they just gied the entirety o Scotland an wir devolved parliament the dingy an kept richt on doon their ain gait. This embarrasses the devolved parliament in a country whaur its utility an legitimacy wis ainly just stairtin tae gain grun.

The havers oot o Westminster are aa aboot respect fir the devolved parliaments. But we ken the price o tatties by noo. Onythin o oors that gets in the road o the British Behemoth wilnae stey in the road fir lang.

May commitit hersel an whit’s left o her shoogly-peg government tae gien Holyrood “an enhanced role” in the Brexit negotiations. She brocht us in. She even drapped the £65 fee fir EU residency applications, in line wi SNP policy. Then she whummelt us. Nae meetins the dey fir Holyrood meenisters. Nae space in the diary. Owre busy, we’re telt, tae waste time wi us. Embarrassin.

Holyrood is getting duntit aboot like a diddy team in a league owre muckle fir it. A wee Scottish team in a British league. Non-political Scots seein their hoose o parliament embarrassed bi the Tories like it has been this week will lose faith in Holyrood as a centre o pooer, an it’ll tyne its prestige as a national centre.

Oor devolved parliament needs tae either dae an Achinleck Talbot an win a cup upset bi actually forcin Westminster tae listen tae it, and us, on the subject o Brexit. Or else it needs tae accept that the devolution gemme’s a bogey. It’s time tae strike oot fir independence fir Holyrood an Scotland, or it’s a lifetime o mediocrity fir Holyrood, baith sheltered an smoored aneath the British hierarchies.