WELL that’s it then, months of wrangling, bitterness, fake news, regurgitated slogans and tiresome television posturing and on the night, an astonishing performance by the SNP. Yet despite all the hyperbole of democracy, and dogs dutifully sitting outside polling booths, once again Scotland gets a government it didn’t vote for.

Another myth was laid to rest. Even if all of Scotland’s seats had been handed gift-wrapped in a red-bow to Labour, we would still have a Conservative government hell bent on ‘‘Getting Brexit Done’’. It’s how England votes that matters.

But what of journalism? How did the free press and our national broadcasters perform in what was a complex and emotionally charged campaign?

Most would agree that the campaign trail was littered with newsworthy moments, but by far the biggest took place on the Monday preceding polling day, when a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia was forced to sleep on a floor at Leeds General Hospital.

It was a moment that seemed to freeze-frame the weaknesses of Labour and the devious ways of the Tories when up against it.

The plight of the young boy exposed a crisis of the NHS in England and cast the Conservatives’ track-record in government in a cruel and uncaring way.

It should have been Labour’s golden opportunity and in any number of post-war elections might have been a big enough crisis of national conscience to have swept Labour to power but Labour’s stuttering and incoherent campaign never had the energy to overtake the stumbling Johnson.

The Leeds debacle was no bad thing for the SNP, emphasising the Conservative Party’s untrustworthiness on matters of public health.

Unintentionally the image also unlocked another major trend of this election: false and misleading claims that have been circulated on social media and then amplified or given legitimately by some parts of the traditional press and public broadcasting. Within seconds of the photo going viral, false counter rumours were spread, that the mother had faked the picture and that she had been assisted by hospital staff that were supporters of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

That alone should have been enough to keep commentators fuelled for days to come. Then Joe Pike, a political correspondent for ITV’s Yorkshire news programme Calendar set another trap. He sourced the photo on his Smartphone and attempted to show it to Boris Johnson and challenged him about the state of the health service locally.

In an extraordinary exchange where Johnson, used to busking his way out of difficulties, struggled to make a coherent point and inexplicably snatched the reporter’s phone and tried to hide it in his pocket.

This was a new low even for the flailing Johnson, who had spent the best part of the previous week avoiding scrutiny, refusing to participate in set-piece televised debates and relying on Conservative Central Office to shift the agenda. That is exactly what happened with even worse consequences for the Conservatives and their well-placed media friends.

Be under no doubt the incident and their conniving untruths in the aftermath, should have holed the Conservatives below the waterline, or at very least should have blown their cynical campaign off course. Johnson’s evasiveness and playing hide and seek with national broadcasters provided Labour with further opportunities, but they never really landed a substantial blow.

Yet still, a layer of privilege and protectionism surrounded Boris Johnson, allowing him to stumble on to the next stop on the trail backed by social media manipulation and a compliant senior press corps. Anyone who now portrays his campaign as triumphant is missing whole chunks from the back story. Fearing that the story of the boy on the hospital floor was spinning out of control, the Tories rushed Health Secretary Matt Hancock to the hospital for what seemed like another deflection.

It too went badly wrong. Hancock struggled to defend hospital waiting times and was heckled outside the hospital by a small band of protesters who seemed to have assembled by chance rather than by plan.

Indeed one of the most vociferous protesters was on his way home on a bike. As Hancock’s car awaited, a security guard unintentionally walked into the cyclists outstretched arm, it was neither violent nor intentional but had enough of the stuff of a street skirmish to be fed back to the media. Then the mask slipped.

Within moments some of the most senior journalists in the British media – among them Robert Peston, the political editor of ITV, the increasingly conflicted Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC and The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn, as well as other trusted journalists, were briefed by Tory central office that the hecklers were Labour activists sent to the hospital to picket it, and that Hancock’s aide had been “punched in the face” by a Corbynista “thug”.

To her eternal shame, Kuenssberg, who is frequently too quick to Twitter, repeated the false information and was forced to take down her comments and apologise. The storm had barely settled when Kuenssberg appeared to breach electoral law by claiming she had seen the trend of postal votes and that it made “grim reading” for Labour.

As it turned out it was indeed grim reading for Labour, but Kuenssberg should never have been the messenger. It underlined what a dreadful and compromised election she had, and although we may never know what she feels about her own performance, she can now hide behind the most damning version of impartiality – being on the winning side.

I would be very surprised if senior BBC executives did not huddle away in some inner-sanctum muttering about “duty-of-care” and plotting to remove Kuenssberg from the frontline for her own sake and for the BBC’s battered reputation.

They will now be hoping it all blows over and we can all move on.

As much as Kuenssberg harmed her reputation, many others either enhanced or reset their status.

Peter Oborne, the former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph, arguably the most Tory job in journalism, wrote a series of excoriating pieces on the divisive and spiv nature of Boris Johnson’s leadership.

The National: Boris Johson provided the media with the perfect rally pointBoris Johson provided the media with the perfect rally point

In one particular essay entitled Boris Johnson Wants To Destroy the Britain I Love, Oborne lamented the death of patrician conservatism and exposed the angry English nationalism at the heart of the Brexit Project. Sarah Smith of BBC Scotland and Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4 both had comparatively sure-footed elections in part because they are both based up here in Scotland and so have the clear advantage of a terra firma on which to build their reports.

Not enough commentators in London understood the undercurrents of the election and its impact on the Union, either here in Scotland or in the quixotic constituencies of Northern Ireland.

For me, it was Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times who stood head and shoulders above the crowd. His incisive understanding of England’s post-colonial retreat and the dark insecurities it has bequeathed have been a sheer joy to read. O’Toole’s knowledge of Irish history and the many points of comparison with England’s lost centrality was a tour de force of great broadsheet writing.

As we face the next hillside, the shenanigans that will precede indyref2, I am determined to find time in New Year to go back over Fintan’s election essays and read them again. They should be required reading within the news and current affairs departments of all London-based broadcasters, many of whom have demonstrated how ill-prepared they are for the fight to come, which will see England’s greatest ally and once loyal colonial partner finally decide to call time on the old ways.

I only hope that it is a fond farewell.