THE relationship between the Scottish and UK governments has never been so bad. The events of the past week – and in particular the bogus and manufactured attack over the universally accepted public health need to quarantine contiguous areas during virus outbreaks – simply illustrate that point.

But it is going to get even worse if the UK Government persists in bringing forward proposals to further undermine devolution, which it is now briefing journalists that it intends to do.

I won’t go into the details of what I hope will be widely reported elsewhere today, but no-one should be in any doubt that the current Scottish Government will refuse to accept any external supervisory role over our legislation in devolved areas and will not operate any system that forces us to accept lower standards than those we presently enjoy.

But as well as understanding the what of this deepening constitutional crisis, we should also try to understand the why – namely why do they show such hostility to Scotland?

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One part of the explanation lies in the nature of current UK politics and the inexperience of those in it. Both the Tory and Labour parties have accepted Brexit and don’t care that we rejected it. Both subscribe to an exceptionalist stance which contends that all decisions must be taken by what they call their “sovereign” Parliament.

Most MPs from those parties hold the supremacy of the UK Government over the devolved governments as a political fact even though it isn’t. But they only do so because they are entirely ignorant of both the theory and the practice of devolution – and of its history.

I gave evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee last week. The majority of members of that committee had been in politics for less than a decade and the only two who had actual experience of devolution were David Jones from Wales – who hates the very idea – and our own David Mundell, who hates the SNP. So most members of the committee, like most MPs, neither understand why devolution exists, nor the fact that it is not synonymous with the SNP.

They are clearly unsettled and upset by Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland devising and implementing their own policies in key areas, like handling the current pandemic, and refusing to be bound by what Westminster thinks or decides.

To them this is against the natural order of things. They don’t know why it is permitted and they would like to get rid of it in order that the so-called “Mother of Parliaments” can rule supreme again, as they think it always has and always should.

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That is threatening enough, but it is compounded by a new element which is asserting itself.

Taking forward the Johnson project, if the mish-mash of arrogance, half-baked notions and sleekit opportunism can be dignified with that name, requires a level of overconfidence that can only be gained on the playing fields of Eton. But for that shaky delusion to survive it needs to be fed with constant reassurance of superiority and an absolute belief in the right to rule.

Yet such a stance now looks distinctly daft given the Prime Minister’s abysmal performance in his first year in office.

So the sycophants who surround Johnson must constantly reassure him and themselves with as much sneering and dismissal of lesser beings, and parliaments, as they can mange.

No wonder, therefore, that they see as unforgivable Scotland’s regular demolition of their patronising and nonsensical position, not in any dramatic way but merely by the quiet competence of our First Minister and the level of support that her Government commands. It is all in stark contrast to their plight and a resounding regular slap in their faces.

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They cannot bear it and that is why there are ever more frantic efforts by the UK Government to attack and discredit what is happening north of a very obvious border.

Fortunately there is, as usual, a Scottish proverb that puts it well. Because “the mair they talk, the better we’re kent” though in this case it is also true that the mair they talk, the mair their words and arguments are revealed as the tawdry, self-interested, self-promoting hollow rubbish that they are.

It will, alas, get worse before it gets better. But the louder and shriller Johnson or Rees-Mogg or any of them become, the more outlandish their statements and the more preposterous their lies are seen to be – and the more independence becomes inevitable.