THERE may be a hint of irony in pointing out that I have become utterly bored with hearing about Scottish independence any time a new development in UK politics emerges. In particular, I am bored with the way that posturing around the constitutional divide appears to take precedence over the many urgent and potentially catastrophic issues facing people in Scotland – and the rest of the UK – today.

There are issues around which collaborative working and consensus building are absolutely essential, but some of those shaping our political discourse in Scotland are too focused on scoring points on unrelated topics to consider that working together might be the only viable way forward.

With Boris Johnson appointed as Prime Minister of the UK, a naive observer might expect that this sobering picture of what lies ahead would inspire a new sense of alliance among all those who want to bring an end to the politics of selfishness, inequality and the vilification of marginalised groups which has come to characterise modern-day Britain.

However, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s statement on Johnson’s election quickly deflated those dreams.

Leonard rightly pointed out that “Boris Johnson represents a dangerous form of English nationalism”, but in his next sentence he lamented that Johnson had “abandoned the Unionist tradition of the Conservative and Unionist party” and claimed that the Conservative Party is now “a real and present danger to Scotland’s place in the UK”.

READ MORE: Strong independence support within Labour according to YouGov poll

Of all the many hundreds of things that could reasonably be criticised about Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister, the fact that Scottish Labour chose to centre their response around reasserting themselves as the only party “standing up for Scotland’s place in the UK” is, in a word, pathetic.

It is a terrible reflection on the place we have come to in Scottish political history when a genuine threat to the rights of migrants, minorities and those already worst off in our society can be reduced to yet another anti-independence sound bite. At this rate, it would hardly be a surprise if a natural disaster hit Scotland and Richard Leonard’s contribution was to say: “Only Scottish Labour can prevent floods and independence referendums.”

It doesn’t seem too big of an ask to expect politicians to look outside of their own narrow vision of a winning electoral strategy for five minutes and consider that political decisions are impacting on people’s lives in the here and now and that the same two sentences perhaps won’t do for every occasion.

If I might put myself in the shoes of someone who opposes or has no strong opinion on independence for a moment and say that I don’t think appreciating the political hollowness of this approach hinges on supporting independence.

In fact, it’s about saying that there are many people who agree on fundamental policy areas and ideological questions who don’t necessarily agree on independence, and that at a time like this, reaching across this particular divide might be more constructive than entrenching it.

Sadly, though, this approach has become deeply ingrained in Scottish Labour’s “brand identity”, at the expense of the values it really ought to be prioritising. Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray demonstrated this at the beginning of the week when Jo Swinson was elected as leader of the LibDems.

Congratulating Swinson on Twitter, Murray noted that he had shadowed her for “most of the time she was in government” and that “she’s a lovely person”, before concluding: “Now let’s stop #brexit and #indy2.”

The National: Jo Swinson is the new LibDem leader – and Scottish Labour seemed to forget about her time in coalition with the ToriesJo Swinson is the new LibDem leader – and Scottish Labour seemed to forget about her time in coalition with the Tories

Never mind that Jo Swinson, as part of the coalition government which Murray specifically refers to, voted for the Bedroom Tax, voted to maintain the benefits freeze, voted against excluding child benefit from the benefit cap, voted against raising benefits for people with disabilities and voted for cuts to public services.

Never mind that, as employment minister, she opposed increases to the minimum wage, supported zero hours contracts and increased fees for employment tribunals. Never mind that these policies and cuts – which Swinson has said were necessary because of the deficit – continue to push people into destitution, poverty and homelessness.

Are we really expected to accept that top on the agenda of dangers (after Brexit) isn’t austerity, it isn’t a political elite who think our collective memory doesn’t extend back further than four years – it’s a second independence referendum?

READ MORE: Scottish Labour and Tories face total wipeout at General Election

In the face of this and the constant repetition of Labour’s role in “protecting Scotland’s place in the UK”, which fires out of the Scottish Labour press office like a scattergun, it is difficult to imagine a senior Labour MP tweeting similarly glowing praise about a new SNP leader and calling for partnership working to halt the Tories’ destructive, right-wing agenda.

It appears that Scottish Labour has become defined by a fear of being seen to even tacitly endorse independence by forgetting to mention it on a daily basis or, worse, by considering that worthwhile alliances might be formed with people who happen to support independence.

THIS is a great shame, particularly given that independence supporters exist across the political spectrum and many of them would align themselves with what Labour would surely describe as “Labour values”.

In fact, a recent YouGov survey found that three in 10 Labour members in Scotland support independence. The same poll found that 83% of Labour voters across the UK would support a Labour coalition with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament, compared to 58% who would support a coalition with the LibDems.

In light of the record of the LibDems’ last coalition, this should hardly be surprising, and it seems the feeling is quite mutual, as Jo Swinson has personally ruled out a coalition with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour anyway.

But the reality that more Labour members would ally themselves with a pro-independence party than with one which, like Labour, has made a point of characterising the proposition of an independence referendum as inherently harmful and hostile, may prove difficult for the Scottish Labour establishment to accept.

The strategy of hammering home opposition to independence at every opportunity is one which the Scottish Conservatives have enthusiastically employed since 2014, and this has inarguably contributed to their electoral gains in Scotland.

For the Tories this makes sense: there was never any real electoral risk to them in alienating Yes voters, whereas they knew they could inspire some of the unusually large turnout of voters in 2014 to vote for them if they continued to frame every election around that one, galvanising question.

This approach is not nearly as logical for Labour, and their electoral results should be proof enough of that.

But it seems that old habits die hard for Labour, because they have fallen into the trap of allowing the Tories to set the terms of the debate and followed their lead regardless – apparently clueless to the fact that they are chasing them off a cliff.

Writing in the Scotsman on Thursday, Ian Murray echoed Richard Leonard’s concerns about Boris Johnson, arguing that “with his reckless Brexit plan, [Johnson] is as big a threat to the Union – if not a bigger threat – than any nationalist”.

Perhaps it is time for Scottish Labour to consider that independence supporters, and the parties which represent them, may not be the benchmark against which all other threats should be measured.

In the face of the very real and present dangers posed by Boris Johnson’s new government, maybe this is one of those moments when we should all be standing on the same side.