REPORTS say that Tory politicians accepted liberal amounts from Russians oligarchs and others. And oligarchs get to be oligarchs because they know what they are doing. We also know they demand a real return on investments they make.

At his press conference when he visited the north of Scotland recently, PM Johnson evaded the Russia Report. Indeed, it could be said that the Orkney Islands and Johnson both lie above the Pentland Firth.

In some ways Orkney was an odd choice, not least because someone would have to be aged 95 to remember the last time a Tory MP was elected there.

On his visit, Johnson expressed his affection for Scotland. This would’ve come as a huge surprise to another Boris Johnson, then editor of The Spectator magazine, who published the following diatribe about Scots – urging their extermination:

The Scotch – what a verminous race!

Canny, pushy, chippy, they’re all over the place.

Battening off us with false bonhomie;

Polluting our stock, undermining our economy.

Down with sandy hair and knobbly knees!

Suppress the tartan dwarves and the Wee Frees!

Ban the kilt, the skean-dhu and the sporran

As provocatively, offensively foreign!

It’s time Hadrian’s Wall was refortified

To pen them in a ghetto on the other side.

I would go further. The nation

Deserves not merely isolation

But comprehensive extermination.

We must not flinch from a solution.


At the time, Maureen Fraser, director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland, said the use of language was a step too far, even if the poem was intended as satire.

She said: “We find this poem very offensive and the language is deeply inflammatory. It does nothing to promote race relations and undermines relations between Scotland and the rest of Britain, and our relationship with other countries.

“Some of the language, such as ‘comprehensive extermination’ and ‘polluting our stock’, is completely and utterly unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

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Again, in The Spectator, Johnson opined: “Labour will try to insert Gordon Brown [as Prime Minister] . That would be utterly outrageous, not just because he is an interfering, high-taxing complicator of life, but mainly because he is a Scot, and government by a Scot is just not conceivable in the current constitutional context.”

He also declared: “There will come a time when the Scots will discover that personal care for the elderly is too expensive. And they will come, cap in hand, to Uncle Sugar in London. And when they do, I propose that we tell them to hop it.”

It is unclear how these outbursts chime with any recognised description of a charm offensive.

Johnson’s visit also featured a bowel-loosening event outside a Baxters Soup plant where he was pictured surrounded by grinning acolytes, while hundreds are dying of Covid-19.

Meanwhile a soon-to-be-departing Tory MSP told a perplexed nation that “Johnson had beaten Farage and he would beat Sturgeon”.

Even the dogs in the street know that Farage was marginalised mainly because the Tories adopted his policies. Based on this logic, we ought to look forward to Johnson espousing independence.

IT is important to note that all this raving nonsense is really only possible because the British state – unlike most developed countries – has no written, codified constitution that might constrain a UK government’s conduct.

In other words, there is no overarching legal requirement for the present Tory Government to behave ethically or responsibly.

Absent of such a constitution, Johnson and his ministers are free to ignore convention and, indeed, morality.

They can appoint whomsoever they wish to whatever position they want. They can cancel, or simply ignore, devolution.

Once Brexit occurs in what may be a cruel midwinter, they can ride roughshod over human rights.

Appeals to their better nature will go unheeded because all power is vested in the Parliament at Westminster and this Parliament, in turn, is a creature of an all-powerful executive.

Even the most rudimentary modern-day constitution would not permit such a state of affairs.

All of this should sound a clear warning note to the independence community.

Should Scotland gain its freedom from Westminster rule tomorrow, the putative Scottish Government would inherit all these powers. It, too, would be free to behave as Westminster does.

Now, it would be fair to say that there is normally a transitional period when sovereignty moves from one state to another.

But what would happen if the UK were to suddenly implode under the combined weight of the pandemic, Brexit and financial uncertainty? Is Scotland prepared to assume its sovereignty in an orderly way that would prevent an independent Scottish Government acting just like Westminster?

This column welcomes questions from readers

Don’t miss the TNT show on IndyLive at 7pm on Wednesday