YESTERDAY’S Ipsos MORI poll for STV is welcome evidence that the Yes campaign is back up and running, with a clear focus on indyref2 being held during 2023. After a run of polls showing Yes support pretty much stalled it’s good to see it back on an upward trajectory.

There have been a number of positive initiatives which have no doubt contributed to persuading more Scots that independence offers the best future for our country.

These included the pro-independence newspaper produced by a partnership which included Believe in Scotland, this newspaper and the SNP and delivered to one million homes across Scotland. Many but not all copies of the newspaper will have been delivered while this poll was being carried out so it’s reasonable to suggest both that it will have played some part in increasing Yes support and that we should see more signs of that increase in future polls.

Other positive campaigns have included Believe in Scotland’s impressive and ongoing Autumn for Independence Action, which kicked off in September, and which included a hugely successful Day of Action and has seen more than 100 local Yes groups, the Yes Network and Believe in Scotland work together very successfully.

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As well as celebrating such positive efforts we should never forget to underline the positive benefits of independence which will transform our country in so many inspiring ways.

However, there is no doubt that the new poll also shows that Scots are disillusioned with the present Tory government at Westminster, the worst seen since the days of Margaret Thatcher and in some ways arguably even worse than that.

Four out of every five respondents in the new poll said they were not satisfied with Boris Johnson’s performance, a new low. You have to ask what else the Prime Minister would have to do alienate those still happy with his dismal record.

Under what we might laughingly call his “leadership” we have certainly come a very long way from those heady days of 2014. Remember the love bomb, when celebrities queued up to tell Scots how much they cared for them. Remember the lengths they went to just convince us not to leave the UK, the promises they made to entice us to stay? These days Tory MPs can’t even remember who our patron saint is.

More importantly… the British Prime Minister can’t be bothered to turn up for a censure debate in Westminster called by representatives of a party with 45 of the 59 Scottish MPs. The representatives of what is by far Scotland’s most powerful political party are simply swatted away by Prime Minister who simply couldn’t care less what they do or say.

The facts is that the Westminster parliament gives Scotland’s opinions and best interests no thought at all. Evidence of the disdain in which they are held is mounting every day. The big question is: How long will be put up with it? How long are we willing to be dismissed as irrelevant? How long will our resources go to subsidise a failing UK economy while being denied even a say in our future?

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The catalogue of accusations against Boris Johnson is considerable. He’s dogged by sleaze in the wake of the scandal around former Tory MP Owen Paterson, who pocketed huge sums of money from firms he used his privileged position to lobby for. His response to the scandal – firstly trying to back Paterson before messing up a clampdown on MPs’ second jobs – was muddled and incompetent. His dealings with the EU over Brexit have been either criminally inept or designed to cause economic chaos.

Among the specific charges against him were attempting to rip up lobbying rules, to restrict the right to judicial review and “seeking to undermine the independence” of the Electoral Commission. When Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, called them “damning” he was understating it.

The surprise is not that Tuesday’s motion of censure took place but that it took so long to be tabled and that it was left to the SNP to call for action rather than the official opposition.

In a properly functioning democracy Johnson would have been dragged into the chamber to account for his actions. What actually happened that the Prime Minister simply failed to turn up, not because he had urgently pressing business but because he felt it more important to ride a bicycle round a pop up Christmas market outside the Houses of Parliament.

That was a snub that goes beyond simple party politics. On top of the party’s 45 MPs it also returned 64 MSPs in the Scottish elections, falling just one MSP short of achieving a second parliamentary majority. It can certainly claim to be speaking for more Scots than any other party and significantly more than the Conservative party, with 31 MSPs. It’s not a stretch to say that most Scots would have very much liked to have held Boris Johnson to account for his many failings and to ignore the debate for such a trivial alternative is nothing more than an insult.

Having said that, it’s just the latest in a long line of insults to Scotland. When news of the Omicron Covid variant broke the Prime Minister dismissed Nicola Sturgeon’s sensible suggestion of a UK summit to discuss tactics.

This is more important and more dangerous than a simple display of bad manners. In the absence of a summit people looking for advice on how best to behave in the face of the new variant were given a bewildering variety of advice. Yesterday while the Scottish First Minister was advising people to work from home whenever possible and the Welsh First Minister was urging people to think carefully before meeting vulnerable relatives Boris Johnson was busy advising against scaling down Christmas parties.

THEN there is Westminster’s Northern Ireland Protocol, which allowed the province access to the EU single market while at the same time ruling out that same access for Scotland. Economic figures released yesterday revealed the consequences of that decision. Northern Ireland’s economic output was the best in the UK so far this year. After Brexit Scotland’s economic output tanked by 5%.

And let’s not forget the British Prime Minister’s naked attempt to keep the spotlight well away from Scotland during the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow. Nicola Surgeon was denied any platform at the main conference and it was only her acknowledged skills at soft diplomacy which ensured Scotland connected with world leaders and its successes in renewables and tackling carbon emissions were recognised.

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This is bad behaviour by probably the worst British Prime Minister in living memory but it is worse than that. As Ian Blackford said during the censure debate, if Boris Johnson feels he can get away with anything without censure or punishment there will no end to the tide of sleaze flowing from his government. How can we be sure that other examples – and there are no shortage of complaints to investigate, including allegations against Jacob Rees-Mogg and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross – will be properly dealt with?

But the most worrying aspect of all this is not just Boris Johnson, or even the current government. The case for independence is not just built on the performance of one government, no matter how disgraceful.

Scotland should be independent because no country should be open to such treatment. It will always be possible to ignore Scotland’s demands for justice if it remains within a union with the power of numbers stacked against it. It will always be possible to reduce the devolved powers of the Scottish parliament if control over that devolution rest entirely in the hands of the UJnion’s “sovereign” parliament. It will always be possible to ignore Scotland’s legitimate health concerns – or financial, economic or social concerns – if ultimately another authority can outvote you.

The biggest problem for Scotland is not that Boris Johnson repeatedly abuses our trust and thwarts our ambitions it is that he CAN do so without challenge and with impunity. We will one day have another British Prime Minister. A Prime Minister we may have voted for but probably won’t have. A Prime Minister who may share our values but probably won’t. A Prime Minister “nicer” and more benign than Boris Johnson. That’s pot luck, down to chance. But what isn’t down to chance is that every Prime Minister will have exactly the same powers to make us poorer, irrelevant and subservient as Boris Johnson has. Unless we call a halt now.