FOR the present UK Government, or kleptocracy to describe it more accurately, scarcely a week passes between constitutional obscenities. This column generally ignores many of these abuses, because to do each justice requires an entire column to itself.

From time to time, however, some crudeness is impossible to ignore. For example, this week Baron Botham of Ravensworth took his seat in the House of Lords.

This worthy is not a refugee from the Game of Thrones, as the title might suggest, rather he is one Ian Botham, a former cricketer. You may recall that the said Baron, now an unelected bureaucrat, campaigned vigorously during Brexit against “unelected bureaucrats running the country”.

Meanwhile, the UK Government has announced that undercover informants working for the police and MI5 are going to be explicitly permitted to commit crimes. The law will not specify which crimes can be committed. Critics are urging MPs to amend the proposed law to rule out murder and serious violence. To the layperson this rather suggests that any snitch is authorised to do as much mayhem as they wish, free of any limits.

This is not governance. It is anarchy.

Moderate Tories are beginning to find these excesses abhorrent. There are growing signs that a long-heralded split is approaching. Tories with a conscience may increasingly find they can no longer remain bedfellows with others for whom these constitutional abuses are perfectly fine. Such divisions are likely to be exacerbated as growing problems emerge between unreconstructed Unionists and those pleased to be known as Conservatives.

This latter group nervously cast a look over their shoulders at the opinion polls that betoken huge SNP majorities and a wipe-out of Unionist parties.

It is likely that those in this group are uneasy with Unionist tub-thumping and an obsession with flags. For them, the priority is enactment of right-wing policies, of balancing the books and austerity. A kleptocracy shovelling public funds into the bottomless pockets of Dominic Cummings’s friends has little attraction for them.

The present (and history suggests short-term) Conservative leader in Scotland adds: “Despite bold promises, the Union too often becomes an afterthought. In successive governments, it is given warm words and lip service but sadly too often there is little action.”

From his lonely perch, thinking man’s Unionist journalist Alex Massie opines: “The Union’s survival requires a successful UK Government and economy. Flag-waving is not the answer. Dreams that devolution can be rolled back are not rational thinking. The people will not wear it.”

It is hard to argue with this. That said, the Johnson government has rarely been accused of “rational thinking”. So, the signs are that this is precisely what the UK Government plans to do. Devolution will be emasculated by the internal market laws and thousands of civil servants based in Edinburgh will be charged with replacing popular Scottish Government with Westminster diktat. Union flags will abound and hair-brained projects such as a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland will begin with a fanfare and millions thrown at them, then quietly abandoned.

After all, they have form here ...

I give you the so-called garden bridge in London, as an example.

UK ministers will rule Scotland without consent and overrule democratic decisions made at Holyrood.

All of these moves place an intolerable strain on the right wing in Scotland. However unwillingly, they are forced to choose between a certain, and likely influential, presence in the affairs of an independent Scotland or increasing irrelevance in the Union. Now it is fair to say that the leaders of the Unionist parties in Scotland are clearly content with this diminishing status, but their membership, however docile in the past, will not be.

And history will judge harshly those who delayed espousing popular constitutional change. Indeed, it would be surprising if some Tories were not already thinking that it is better to be a large fish in a small pond than an irrelevant minnow in a great cesspit.

To date, these constitutional excesses have been obscured ... otherwise the opinion polls would show even greater independence support. Unionist media outlets have stuck manfully to their task of amplifying Scottish Government mistakes while minimising UK Government blunders.

However this too is likely to change. Newspaper owners and editors alike need to be sensitive to public opinion. Smart managers know that they must change when customers do. Indeed, the best managers seek to anticipate customer choices. They will recognise the time is fast approaching to re-evaluate and to re-position their offerings. Experience elsewhere suggests that buoyant sales will likely require a different stance in an independent Scotland.

This column welcomes questions from readers. Next week the TNT show’s guest is playwright, Alan Bissett. The show starts at 7pm on Wednesday