ANYONE watching the BBC’s excellent drama Years and Years may have trouble sleeping. The six-part series depicts a dystopian Britain, decades from now, where false news, smiling dictators, unfettered greed, migrant-hating and global warming have reached their logical conclusion – a society and climate in total meltdown. Haunting, prophetic, urgent, quirky, knowing and very human – if you pay the licence fee, it’s well worth watching.

And if you’re already hooked, the current “debate” amongst Tory leadership candidates has acquired a new edge of dread and foreboding.

The parade of lies, unworkable ideas and undeliverable policies reached a hard-to-ignore zenith yesterday as Boris Johnson was prised from the back room and forced to explain what he (probably) thinks to the assembled broadcast media. In case you missed it ... Boris is “not aiming for a no-deal outcome.”

You could try to read further and find out what that really means. But why bother? The Establishment wants Boris for PM and the next few weeks are just window dressing to disguise that secretly done deal – a wee distraction for the punters.

The leadership pantomime is a classic example of what Britain does so well – the business of diverting, colourful spectacle not the business of change.

This is how the establishment works. It hides failings and malicious intent in plain sight.

Thus, the tousled, unkempt, blustering, old Etonian is their perfect candidate. Nothing like the miserable old guys normally associated with the elite. A social liberal, don’t you know, who supports gay marriage. A man so entertaining he’s sought after by the London press – boosting sales of the Telegraph as they dramatically overegg his chances.

Quite a double act. A man who’s repeatedly cheated on partners yet remains standing whilst Sniffer Gove is dead in the water – bombed out by revelations of past drug use and ongoing hypocrisy.

Yet while Boris is being shaped up as the “natural winner” in public, behind-the-scenes, the sordid business of buying votes from biddable Tory MPs goes on apace. So honestly, does it matter what Boris says? And if not, why listen?

This is not politics but propaganda – a form of mass hypnosis, where BBC TV and radio can spend hours analysing the credentials of candidates for whom only 100,000 citizens can vote. This is not democracy. So dinnae sup. Dinnae even hurl your anger.

Instead strategise.

Because big change is coming beyond the currently stalled constitutional debate. And resolving it will be the making of our new nation.

Over recent weeks, I’ve found myself explaining I can’t write about truly interesting and planet-shaping issues because Brexit, Tory leadership elections and the like are hogging the limelight. Increasingly that feels like a lazy excuse.

In life, in politics and especially during the gestation of a new nation, we should keep an eye on the storms that surround us – of course. But we should always have an eye on where we want to go.

Maybe we can’t do much about our biggest political dependency right now, but we can spend the summer tackling another power imbalance – our dependency on oil and gas. Indeed, the SNP could acquire some useful credibility around their climate emergency call by coming up with some adventurous policy ideas before the summer recess. Here are two suggestions.

The Scottish Government has officially missed its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with transport accounting for the biggest rise. Last week, the Scottish Greens asked why dualling the A9 and A96 is still going ahead when the Welsh Government’s scrapped a massive ring-road project in light of its own Climate Emergency declaration. The Greens want the roads cash spent on dualling the rail line north instead.

It’s a perfectly valid suggestion that demands a reply. So far none has been forthcoming. The Scottish Government could pleasantly surprise its many green sceptics by scheduling just such a debate. Will that happen?

Waste plastic is a source of deadly marine litter and climate change emissions when methane and ethylene are emitted as plastic is exposed to sunlight and starts to degrade. Folk may feel a bit virtuous about this one because most of us recycle religiously and reuse plastic bags.

But another hard-hitting BBC programme this week, Hugh and Anita’s War on Plastics, proved that it’s one thing for councils and governments to talk about 100% recycling and zero single-use plastics – quite another thing to achieve.

The programme revealed that unpackaged fruit and veg in Tesco costs 42% more than packaged veg – quite shocking. If that doesn’t change, consumers won’t ditch overpackaged food, even though the hard-to-recycle plastic waste has health impacts beyond Scotland.

When China refused to import waste plastic from Britain, it started heading to other developing countries like Malaysia instead and now vast mountains of plastic, paper, card and aluminium waste tower over villages and water courses, polluting drinking water and leaving children with throat and breathing problems after illegal companies incinerate the material.

Of course, Scotland is doing something – we’re ahead of the UK in the battle against single use plastic, aluminium and glass containers. Laws introducing a deposit return scheme of 20 pence should be passed in Holyrood later this year and implemented by the end of 2020 – which gives Scots just one year to make some pretty major behavioural changes.

Everyone who currently grabs a supermarket meal deal, must be ready to pay an extra 20p for the wee single-use plastic bottle of water and return it for a refund from a Reverse Vending Machine or supermarket counter. But the greener option is to bring a refill container instead.

Will we do that – will supermarkets offer meal deals with free water from giant urns instead of unrecyclable single use plastic bottles? Truck companies and haulage operators could issue drivers with reusable drink mugs – if they do that, will drivers walk into petrol stations and top up from water fountains? Will garages offer water refills and forego some of the £2.4 billion small water bottle business they currently earn from thirsty drivers? There’s just over a year for all of us to change the way we act. Will we?

The Green Alliance, which organised a recycling seminar in Edinburgh this week, also wants better separation of aluminium from other waste in kerbside collections so the full value of this valuable metal can be retrieved. Will folk living in flats stick another bin in the kitchen – will councils change the way they collect?

Finally, UK legislation will soon make all food and drinks producers responsible for 100% of recycling costs (they currently pay 10%). The internationally agreed Basle Convention could introduce a partial ban on shipping low-quality waste plastics from 2021 unless developed countries have permission from receiving countries.

But the distractions of Brexit and a new British Prime Minister could put paid to even that tentative measure. But there is an option. The Scottish Government could once again confound critics and propose a ban on the export of low-grade plastic waste.

It’s big stuff. So, let’s ignore the empty changeable words of Tory leadership candidates awhile and focus instead on how Scots step back from a self-harming, throwaway culture and begin the massive task of creating new behaviour and different outlooks fit for life beyond the Oil Age. Let’s spend the summer getting our priorities straight and debating things Scotland can change – not dwelling overly on the Chaotic Changing of the Guard.