ALL the procrastinators out there will know precisely what I’m talking about. You have a deadline or something unpleasant to do. So you avoid it. You reorder all your priorities to put this ugly obligation at the bottom of your bucket list. Every other task – any other responsibility – takes on a strange, newfound urgency. You footer and you potter. You give it the full ostrich, in whatever sand falls available. And having devised crackpot schemes to avoid the inevitable, it is only when will and imagination are exhausted, only when reality has chased you down and taken you by the throat, that you settle down to the inevitable.

In the UK political debate, this kind of adolescent constitutional procrastination has but one consistent name – full federalism.

In any moment of crisis, on any occasion when Unionists encounter what they perceive as the grim slide to Scottish self-government – the F word begins ricocheting through the airwaves. You may remember it was Gordon Brown who smuggled it into the 2014 referendum debate. The former PM’s constitutional fantasies were uniformed and polished by the three now fallen UK leaders.

But in the aftermath, having resisted all of the SNP’s substantive amendments, David Mundell’s case for the 2016 Scotland Bill was – essentially – that this compromised Bill was “so federally, you won’t believe it is not federalism.”

I admit – I paraphrase. But the UK Government’s man in Scotland endlessly repeated the mantra that the new powers would transform Holyrood into “the most powerful devolved assembly in the world.”

Mundell cuffed Germany’s Länder, and scoffed at what the State Houses of America could do. In Canada’s confederation, Quebec hasn’t a patch on us: Holyrood, he said, rules them all. Just months ago, the dominant forces in Westminster depicted the 2016 Act as the end of the road for devolution, the furthest anyone could go to distribute power across these islands before you begin to pull British unity apart. Forgetful Ruth Davidson busily etched another line in the sand, events having washed away all the happy warrior’s earlier commitments to closing the devolution debate in these islands.

Now we are supposed to conclude this is not so, and that the federalist tree can yield yet more fruit if only the UK’s frantic Unionists can give it a big enough shoogle. After England’s Brexit vote, it was inevitable that someone would alight on federalism as the solution to Britain’s political problems, like a toothless medieval hedge witch superstitiously maintaining that their bubbling green cauldron contains a remedy for all ills.

Tory MSP Darth Murdo Fraser was the first to take to the market, hawking the federalist ointment for a smarting United Kingdom. He was followed yesterday by “all party” grandees from the House of Lords, who see federalism as the magic wheeze to keep Britain together. But only one characteristic consistently attaches to political grandees: complete loss of power. When you pour the last dregs of your hopes into a cracked beaker marked Peter Hain and Ming Campbell, you know you are doomed.

The House of Lords is care in the community for failed and retired politicians who, having experienced a terminal loss of their democratic mandates, nevertheless feel themselves significant persons in the world, whose wisdom and political experience warrant consideration. I’m sorry to disabuse them of this – but federalism is an idea in Scotland with no consistency, no plan, no power, and no realistic prospect of materialising.

In the Scottish constitutional debate, its proponents swung the word federalism around their heads – as if we all knew what they meant. But "federalism" is an empty term. Or to put it slightly differently, "federalism" might mean a dizzying array of things. It doesn’t commit the UK to any one kind of government, or another. It doesn’t require decision-making authority at one level, rather than another. And worse, it is a solution which fails to address the consequence of English nationalism overruling periphery on matters of international affairs. Federalism will not keep Scotland or Northern Ireland in the EU, as we watch England and Wales crashing out.

Kezia Dugdale has said that she does not want to choose between Scotland’s EU membership and Scotland’s place in the British Union. It is important to understand that for many Scots, the consequences the EU referendum has thrust upon us will feel like Sophie’s choice. But more talk of British federalism is pure political escapism. It is wishful thinking. Psychologically, you can understand it. Emotionally, you can sympathise with the discomfort. But politics is the art of the possible. Doomed talk of UK federalism by powerless peers can only represent an adolescent twinge in a political world that now demands that Scots put aside childish things, and choose.