IT is the custom of this column to give you, gentle reader, the best thinking and practice on matters constitutional. Today, I’d like to look down the constitution road to make sense of where we may all be headed.

Last week had its now-customary constitutional meanderings. These included a commitment to a written constitution mentioned fleetingly in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP Conference – and a similar call in the recent Declaration for Independence.

To counter these nods to sense and sensibility, we have been treated to the State Opening of Parliament – the antidote to sound constitutional principles.

The London-based public prints and the increasingly irrelevant BBC News asked us to believe that a poor(?) granny travelling in a gilded carriage and seated on a golden throne was forced by an evil, lying prime minister to make a speech extolling the benefits of his government.

As this column has pointed out, there are two conventions the Queen may have observed, and she chose to ignore that which requires her to agree only with a prime minister who can command a majority in the House of Commons.

Even someone of the meanest intellect might have questioned if the Prime Minister satisfied that condition.

As a result, some will feel that she has politicised her position as head of state. Whatever the truth of that assertion, there can be little doubt that her claims to political detachment are greatly weakened.

The dog in the street knows that the dictates of the Queen’s Speech have little chance of being enacted. Indeed, it has all the constitutional significance of a random postern blast by some drunk in a pub toilet.

So, what might the future hold for us all in the light of this contrast between principles and pageantry?

Exit from the EU may stagger on for a number of months, while the Scottish Government formulates its plans for an independence referendum.

Westminster will likely deny any request for a Section 30 order to make such a referendum legitimate, meaning the matter may end up in the courts. While this is going on, the unwritten British constitution will continue to shower us with further delights.

The House of Commons has asserted itself – ironically as the Brexiteers wished. But a legislative body is not an executive. It can propose but not dispose, in the sense that it cannot make the day-to-day decisions a state requires in order to function.

The courts, somewhat reluctantly, have likewise taken centre stage on the constitution.

They have been asked to disentangle the Gordian Knot that is our uncodified constitution. Most would agree that Lady Hale, Lord Pentland and their colleagues have made a decent fist of it.

And they may well be called to adjudicate further as the constitution unravels.

THE plain truth is that the British constitution is well past its sell-by date. It lay rotting on the shelf when it ought to have been replaced a long time ago.

Despite this, it is still being forced down the throats of unwilling and often unwitting consumers. This is unsustainable as most knowledgeable observers now concede.

There will be growing calls for its reform. But these calls are likely to fail as there is little agreement on a revised form and content among the current crop of MPs.

Most are deeply wedded to “muddling through” and they regard written, codified constitutions as something foreigners need, but Brits don’t.

This disquiet will intensify as Scottish values increasingly conflict with those of the British state.

The recent Lord Ashcroft poll covered in this column highlighted some of these ethical differences.

Last week provided yet another example, the SNP at their conference committed to more generous treatment for pensioners, while in sharp contrast the Queen’s Speech prioritised financial services. It is likely these ethical divisions will grow in the months and years ahead.

And this will have the effect of making Westminster governance of Scotland more difficult.

Of course, any London government can abolish the Scottish Parliament and replace its functions with an enlarged Scottish Office, as well as other punitive measures available to it as the sovereign entity on these islands.

But history teaches us that differences in values eventually decide political outcomes.

Draconian actions such as these described above would inevitably have the effect of converting many more of the undecided to Yes.

We need to be prepared; I’d like to see the Scottish Government take immediate steps to put into effect Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to a written constitution that enshrines these values.

Let’s have it now and show people across the world that we prefer principles to pomp.