The National:

EVEN by surreal standards of 2020, this is all getting a bit ridiculous.

First the Scottish Government oversaw an indefensible system of grade moderation. Then they spent a week defending their decision. Then they wavered. Then, in the face of massive public outrage and a proposed Vote of No Confidence, they surrendered. In the end, every single grade that had been lowered was reinstated, and a set of results dismissed as not being “credible” was restored.

It was an absolutely spectacular and utterly humiliating U-turn for both Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, and it was made worse by the months of warnings that had been arrogantly ignored.

And then, having watched the Scottish Government torch their plans, the other UK governments looked over their own, near-identical blueprints, leaned back in their chairs and said: this is fine.

If you ever make the mistake of thinking that politicians are particularly impressive or intelligent, or that they somehow represent the very best of us, remember this whole sorry episode.

Naturally (at least for us) energies must now be focused on a hypocrisy-laden Holyrood vs Westminster rabble. Why aren’t the SNP congratulating Gavin Williamson for his honourable behaviour? Why aren’t the Tories calling for Williamson to go? You’re just playing politics! No, you are!

Well sorry to burst the bubble but as far as I can see there’s little difference between what happened in Edinburgh and what happened in London.

The only people who have come out of this looking good are the young people who won a battle they shouldn’t have had to fight in the first place.

The facts are simple: both governments approved a moderation model which was obviously unfair, unreliable and unethical; both governments initially defended that decision; both governments created enormous anguish amongst young people who have already had to cope with the minor matter of a global pandemic; both governments undermined the professionalism of teachers; both governments changed course out of political necessity.

And both ministers apologised but refused to resign (although at least John Swinney didn't throw anyone else under the bus).

But it actually gets even worse than that, because this grim convergence didn’t happen by chance.

This wasn’t some extraordinary cosmic accident in a universe of infinite possibilities.

In both cases the people in charge simply made the same choices, and they did so for the same “robust” and “credible” reasons.

READ MORE: England follows Scotland's lead in using teacher estimates as exam results

Look past the rhetoric and you’ll see that the SNP, which professes to have education as its top priority and presents itself as a force for social justice, walked an almost identical path to Boris Johnson’s Tories.

Nobody in either government set out to create an unjust system, they simply chose to try to maintain existing injustices. An algorithm didn’t propose sacrificing the dreams of thousands upon thousands of young people – politicians did.

They weren’t forced, nor can they claim to have had no other options. They just made a choice.

You see the real scandal here isn’t the consequences of the moderation system but rather its origins - it’s that no matter where you live in the UK, your leaders instinctively prioritised a Bell Curve, and the stability of the system, over children’s futures.

If you want to know who a person really is, what they really believe in, and how they view those around them, instincts are more instructive than actions.

So are there any positives to be drawn from this appalling shambles? Possibly.

With luck, the young people who refused to back down will never forget how much power they have when they organise, tell their own stories and, ultimately, take to the streets. That’s an invaluable lesson for them to learn and one that the rest of us may come to depend upon in the not too distant future.

READ MORE: SNP hit out at Tories' 'rank hypocrisy' in following Scotland on exam results

The other silver lining is that the inequalities and injustices plaguing our education system are more visible than ever before. Maybe this will prove to be the shock we needed to stop talking about changing things and actually get on with it?

Maybe – just maybe – all that talk about building back better could be turned into action?

Or maybe we'll just go back to normal. That would be easier, after all.