IN those distant, blue remembered days when the SNP leadership didn’t seem embarrassed by the notion of independence life seemed simpler. The SNP (Scottish National Party, in case you’d forgotten) sought to govern in the best interests of the people of Scotland within the limitations of devolution.

It made no pretence of its belief that the devolved arrangements existed on sufferance and that the best way for Scotland to unlock its full potential was to be a fully independent sovereign state. In those jurisdictions reserved to Westminster, the SNP Government sought to promote Scotland’s interests and to secure as advantageous a deal as possible for the country when spending decisions came to be made.

Often, the Tories and what passed for the Labour Party in Scotland suggested that the SNP were “obsessed” with independence to the detriment of the “day job”. Yet, even they acknowledge that the notion of promoting independence is kind of hinted at in the SNP’s title and that people had voted for them on this basis. I’m not suggesting that everyone who votes SNP is pro-independence, but it’s reasonable to conclude, I think, that they’re all comfortable with the party talking about it from time to time.

Then, along came Brexit and the hardening of hearts within the Tories. All meaningful dialogue with the Scottish Government ceased from June, 2016. Scotland would have no part in negotiations with Europe and, quite literally, take what it was given. On the biggest issue of this generation, Scotland was locked out and silenced. It was time to tool up. Instead we rolled over.

The Tories have effectively become a cult presided over by Dominic Cummings, a political shaman who seems to possess a Svengali-like hold on Boris Johnson. It remains to be seen if he turns out to be a Rasputin figure for the Tories and thus find himself at the bottom of the Thames one night. But by jingo, he isn’t half cutting a swathe through that party and laying waste to the pompous and the pious in its ranks.

In terms of Scotland, Cummings has yet to bare his teeth. He hasn’t had to. Nary a cheep has been heard from the SNP since Johnson moved into Number 10. The constitutional status quo will be remaining intact for many years to come as the SNP grow sleepy in this Rip van Winkle period. Not even the UK Government’s criminally irresponsible and complacent approach to dealing with coronavirus has roused the party of independence from its slumbers. Instead it has walked every step of the way with the Johnson administration.

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There is much scope for the SNP to promote Scottish independence here. And don’t give me any of that sanctimonious mince about us all needing to pull together to defeat the virus. Tell that to the elderly and infirm in our care homes who have been abandoned to such an extent that they don’t even make it on to the official death toll.

Tell it to the care workers who we send into these death factories without PPE or the protection of a trade union. Tell it to health workers, many of whom, five weeks into lockdown in Scotland, still can’t get basic PPE for reasons that still haven’t been properly explained. This is what happens when, in the midst of a global health crisis, you effectively hand over the entire devolved area of health to the English Tory party because you’re afraid that the Unionist commentariat will say nasty things about you if you don’t. They say nasty things anyway.

If you genuinely believe that independence offers hope for those left behind by Toryism then you can’t suspend this belief in the midst of a health crisis: you have a moral obligation to proclaim it even more.

I’ve often been disobliging of Cummings and the influence that he exerts on the UK Government. The metamorphosis of the Tories into an extreme right-wing cult with some esoteric views on the human condition is largely his doing. You can’t blame him, though: he’s seen an opportunity and steamed right in. He identified something that had lain dormant in the shires of England, weaponised it and exploited it. Under him, the Tories are now closer to the majority of working-class people in England than Labour. It’s a terrible thing to behold, but impressive too.

I suppressed some laughter at the fury of English commentators at the revelation that Cummings attends meetings of Sage, the UK Government’s emergency scientific advisory group.

What did they expect? If I was running the government I’d want my man in there too. Cummings is a formidable political operator who is doing for Boris Johnson what Alastair Campbell did for Tony Blair: protect him; knife his enemies; put the civil service back in its box, and maintain the integrity of the project.

I wish the SNP had someone like him to preserve the integrity of their own project. The party needs an official nasty bastard like him who’ll cut to the chase and get to what’s real. And what’s real in the eyes of the wider Yes movement is independence; not the experiments in human biology that the SNP has begun crazily to champion.

THE SNP has itself been colonised by a cult-like group who have successfully decoupled the party from reality. Independence for them comes a distant second to their mission of creating a new order rooted in scientific and medical fantasy. A proper nasty bastard sitting at the heart of government, in touch with the mood of the wider movement and not afraid to make enemies might have seen off the gender cult which is choking the SNP and independence; not pander to them. This sect seeks the hyper-normalisation of Scottish culture; something that isn’t real. It’s policed by a secret vigilante force whose word alone can destroy political careers. It needs to be dealt with before it destroys the dream of independence.

Our First Minister is surrounded by flatterers and careerists for whom the constitutional status quo has been very advantageous. It has preserved their power and fattened their pension pots.

They fear that conflict and passion will upset the comfortable, super-annuated rhythm of their lives. They’ve allowed the cause that has given them the good life to be hijacked.

Nicola Sturgeon needs to appoint her own Dominic Cummings to act as a buffer between her and these fake nationalists. It’s going to get nasty in the months and years ahead and she will need to fight fire with fire: someone with something of the night about them and who will carry out the 2am knock. All for the right reasons, you understand.