A HISTORIAN once observed that there are periods when time seems to stand still – when years can roll slowly by without any great upheavals. There are other times, however, when events accelerate at lightning speed and decades are compressed into what feels like months or even weeks.

That’s one reason, incidentally, why it’s foolish to suggest that the result of a single referendum should be cemented in stone for a generation and more. As the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite states demonstrated in the final decade of the 20th century, any society that ceases to be flexible and fails to move with the times will eventually wither and die.

Over these past five years, Scotland and the UK have been transformed at breakneck speed. Many hoped and expected that the result of the September 2014 referendum would keep us frozen in time for decades to come. That David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society would ensure the domination of the centre-right in England for the foreseeable future, while the Labour Party would resume their former place at the heart of the Scottish establishment.

Instead, we’ve had a hair-raising, hang-on-to-your-hats few years that makes the Oblivion vertical roller coaster at Alton Towers feel like a donkey ride on the beach. The high drama of the past week began with confirmation of Boris Johnson’s plans to prorogue Parliament, which sent shockwaves through political and media circles. The Prime Minister’s actions understandably provoked a legal challenge, the outcome of which will become clear this week. I don’t want to pour cold water on this last-ditch attempt to prevent Johnson imposing his clearly preferred option of a No-Deal Brexit which will free the Old Etonian to go on the rampage against workers’ rights, public services and environmental protections, but more important for me than the legal technical technicalities that will decide the case are the anti-democratic powers that are embedded into the UK’s unwritten constitution and date back more than 500 years to the reign of Henry VIII.

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It is ironic that one of those who has stated his intention to join a legal challenge against Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament is John Major, who himself used this exact procedure to suppress any discussion on a “cash-for-questions” scandal that was engulfing the Tory Party in 1999. Boris Johnson’s “constitutional outrage”, as it was described by the House of Commons Speaker, is a product of a Westminster system that has always had one foot stuck in the murky soil of medieval feudalism. One lesson we need to draw out clearly from this week’s fiasco is the need for an independent Scotland to move as swiftly as possible to become a modern democratic republic, where every vestige of feudalism is rooted out and replaced with sovereignty of the people. The other news that rocked the Union this week was the departure from frontline politics of Ruth Davidson. For five years, she has been the blue-eyed girl of the pro-Union Scottish media, hyped to the skies as the next First Minister of Scotland. It was always a far-fetched fantasy perpetrated by those who should have known better. Her vote in the 2017 General Election may have been impressive by the standards of the Scottish Tory Party, but it was a spasm triggered by tactical voting among Labour and Liberal Democrat Unionists.

Ruth insists her decision was purely personal rather than political, which I find both disappointing and unconvincing. Disappointing in the sense that the former Scottish Tory leader – most of whose politics I oppose diametrically – has been far in advance of her Neanderthal party on social issues such as women’s equality and LGBT rights yet now seems to be sending out the message that women with young children should step aside from frontline politics and leave the big jobs to the men. Nobody would believe a man who said he was stepping down from a leadership role to spend more time with his family.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon reacts to Ruth Davidson's resignation as Scottish Tory leader

Four months ago, Ruth Davidson returned from maternity leave with all guns blazing. “While it was dreadfully hard to tear myself away from baby Finn this morning, it feels good to be back at my desk,” she told a packed press conference. “I fired the starting pistol on our party’s 2021 election campaign at the weekend and everyone is buzzing and ready to go. We’ve got two years to show the people of Scotland that we are ready to become the next government of Scotland and the hard work starts now.”

But then came the defeat of “Operation Arse”, the internal Tory campaign to stop Boris Johnson. But the problem for Ruth Davidson is that she cannot now publicly proclaim her contempt for the new Tory Prime Minister without undermining her precious Union.

I know these are personal and delicate matters, but the Scottish and UK media seemed to swallow Ruth’s explanation rather too readily. They, too, understand that if the leader of the Tory Party in Scotland cannot stomach her own Prime Minister, why should the rest of us be forced to grit our teeth and hang in there rather than walk away?

Will her departure weaken the Unionist cause in Scotland? Many anti-independence commentators seem to think so. Their misery has been palpable in the tearful tributes I’ve been reading this week. Personally, I never believed the hype in the first place. As Scottish Tory leader, Ruth was effective at convincing some Labour and LibDem voters to come over to her side. That’s why she became Queen of the Union. She was good at preaching to the converted. But I doubt if her repetitive sloganeering convinced a single Yes voter to change sides.

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What could become interesting is the potential for bitter and bloody internal division within Scottish Conservatism in the coming months. Hard-right pro-Johnson loyalists versus moderates in the mould of Ruth Davidson and David Mundell. People who want independence for the Scottish Tory Party membership and Unionism for everyone else; others who believe the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party should consist of political Daleks remotely controlled from London.

All played out against a background of Brexit bedlam, upheaval in Ireland as border chaos unfolds, and a UK Prime Minister working hand in glove with Donald Trump to widen global and local inequality. The Yes side has its differences and that diversity is a source of strength rather than weakness. Respectful political debate has been and will continue to be part of the independence movement. But we also need discipline. There has never been a wider goal available to kick the independence ball in the net. It’s only ours to lose.