TRUST, in politics, is the final frontier. Once breached, there’s next to no getting back.

So, it’s significant that a government-commissioned survey confirms what most Yessers already know. Boris Johnson is officially beyond the pale, having boldly gone where no prime ministerial predecessor has gone before – to the bottom of the trust league table.

Just 15% of Scots trust his Government to act in the country’s best interests, compared to 61% trust in the Scottish Government. That’s a record low for belief in the bona fides of Westminster.

Furthermore, a whopping 73% of the folk interviewed for the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, said the Scottish Government, should have more “influence” over Scotland than the UK Government; 61% said the Scottish Parliament gave Scotland a stronger voice in the UK, and satisfaction with the NHS in Scotland was also at a record high – 65%.

Even where respondents believed the economy had weakened: 54% blamed UK Government policies, while just 19% blamed the Scottish Government.

Meanwhile, a swatch at the UK headlines shows trust lies bleeding everywhere.

It’s hard to know which idea is worst – Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plan to create a penal colony on Ascension Island, Tory rumours about Brexiteer right-winger Charles Moore becoming chairman of the BBC, Boris Johnson’s inability to explain his own Covid Rule of Six or the revelation that his chief scientific adviser holds shares worth £600k in a coronavirus vaccine-producing drug company.

More serious still was the Commons vote to approve the Internal Market Bill on Tuesday night, breaking the trust of EU Withdrawal Agreement negotiators, Tory voters and Irish people and politicians on both sides of the border. That one trust-busting vote also places livelihoods in jeopardy by worsening prospects of a Brexit deal and sabotages the powers and limited autonomy of the Scottish Parliament.

You might shrug and say, this much we already know.

But it’s time to rouse ourselves.

Trust in Boris Johnson is unravelling so fast that his own backbenchers are demanding first sight of Covid restrictions in a desperate bid to stop any further cack-handed moves, and yesterday Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told Boris to his face that excuses for emergency Covid restrictions had been “unconvincing” and he must rebuild trust with the Commons, instead of treating MPs with “complete contempt”.

READ MORE: Tory minister concedes Internal Market Bill IS power grab on Scotland

In non-parliamentary language, that’s a bit of a leathering.

When the “safe pair of hands” chosen to replace the troublesome John Bercow says trust is broken at Westminster – no wonder a survey finds Scots feeling much the same.

But wait.

The “trust” survey was actually concluded six months ago, with interviews starting in August 2019 and ending in March.

So, that all-time low by the Westminster Government was recorded before the myriad mistakes of lockdown and that trust-destroying moment in the Rose Garden when Boris Johnson chose his lockdown-defying adviser over the British people.

Trust died that day and Dominic Cummings’s political survival serves as a constant reminder of the Prime Minister’s real priorities.

It’s impossible to underestimate the events of those distant weeks in the trust-creation process.

Some commentators seem annoyed that Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity continues to rise when her actions haven’t been massively different from London’s.

Well, she sacked her own Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood for breaking lockdown rules and, as a result, people actually believe the FM when she says “we are all in this together”, instead of laughing bitterly or looking for another Serco-style pay-off for a chum, as we’ve learned to do after Boris has spoken.

But trust can easily evaporate – even with the rock-solid support enjoyed by the First Minister, Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament.

The internal problems of the SNP are rocking confidence badly. No Yesser wants to doubt the SNP leadership and possibly sour the precious bond of trust that’s developed between the FM and previously sceptical voters.

But no-one wants their trust taken for granted either – and anyway, life, politics and the low benchmark against which Holyrood’s been judged are all changing.

Six shambolic months on from that lowly 15%, trust in the British Government must surely have hit rock-bottom by now, with nowhere left to fall north of the Border.

So, looking good by comparison with a totally discredited Downing Street is no longer enough to maintain high levels of trust in Holyrood. Sure – without even the levers to borrow money, it’s hard for the Scottish Government to make truly big changes. But now that a succession of opinion polls suggests a majority of Scots are psychologically ready for the next step, they need a vision about the way an independent Scotland could improve life and an open, vigorous debate about how to achieve it at the party’s forthcoming online conference.

IF it’s held in November – and it must be held – the spotlight on independence will come at precisely the right time, because faith-busting Brexit will finally be back in the headlines.

October 15 is the final, final, final cut-off date for both the UK Government and EU Commission. But since any deal needs to be okayed by member states and tidied into legislation – and since no-one can see a way round Boris’s intention to break international law – the game may become an evident bogey far sooner. Like the end of this week.

Once it is, the gloves must come off – immediately.

Sure, the Scottish Government probably can’t stop Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our will. But it can and must change tone and default, catch the tide of changing public opinion, focus on the collapse of trust in Westminster and explain how independence will give Scots the chance to run this country differently.

It may have worked to sit back (politically speaking) and let the Tories tie themselves in knots. But ironically, once the British Government reaches the moment of its supreme power – “taking back control” from Brussels – the Union will be at its very lowest ebb, and that demands a new sense of animus from Bute House.

With Covid cases rising, the economy in tatters and Brexit yet to hit, I wouldn’t want Nicola Sturgeon’s job for all the tea in China.

Yet many of our Nordic neighbours developed successful independence strategies during periods of rationing and war.

And it feels like we are in the same place – a point where carefully assembled stores of trust start to go mouldy, unless they are deployed.

Strangely (for a non-biblical type), it all reminds me of a parable. A master gave his servants some coins (talents) to look after while he was away. On his return, he rewarded those who risked a little to use the money and castigated the servant who stuck the money under the bed.

OK, it’s a tale that could just as easily justify venture capitalism.

But Scotland’s at a critical stage where trust gathered must be used.

It’s a simple truth. In politics as in life – use it or lose it.