JACK McConnell is very sad. It’s not Brexit or the Conservatives trashing all the promises made to Scotland by the Better Together campaign in 2014 (in a desperate attempt to fend off the rise in support for Yes prior to that year’s referendum) that’s making him sad – it’s devolution.

Devolution hasn’t done what Jack wanted it to do, and that’s what is causing him so much grief. How very dare those ungrateful Scottish people do what they think is in their own interests with the limited powers for Holyrood that the Labour Party deigned to concede to Scotland when Tony Blair and his allies watered down the proposals for a Scottish Parliament as much as they thought they could get away with.

The last ever Labour first minister of what he called the Scottish Executive – because Jack’s Labour Party couldn’t see Scotland ever being grown up enough to have a Scottish Government – was speaking in a teary interview with Holyrood magazine. He told the publication that Scotland was “stuck” in a “polarisation around the constitutional debate”.

This made him very sad, indeed he believes that Scotland is now in a worse place than it has ever been – because he campaigned for devolution thinking that Scotland would use it to “make the right choices”, by which he presumably means the choices that he’d want to make.

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There speaks the patrician voice of the Labour Party. Jack is like a parent who claims that they raised their children to think for themselves and to make their own decisions but then complains that the decisions that their adult child makes are not the decisions that they would have made themselves and then bitterly insists that their child is a failure.

For a politician who claims to have campaigned for devolution for so long, Jack seems to have spectacularly missed the point about what devolution is about. If the measure of success for devolution is that Scotland should have chosen to take the exact same decisions as Westminster politicians, then there would have been no point to devolution at all.

However, the real reason for Jack’s chagrin is that during the 80s and 90s he and much of the rest of the Labour Party in Scotland saw a devolved Scottish Parliament primarily as a means whereby the Labour Party could continue to enjoy political power even during those periods when the pendulum of Westminster swung in favour of the Conservatives. For Jack and the Labour Party, a Scottish Parliament was always essentially a plan B for the Labour Party – their back-up legislature for when Westminster was in the hands of the Conservatives. He did not foresee that the people of Scotland might have other ideas and might view their parliament as the parliament of a self-governing nation – a parliament that was the seat of a government, not merely an executive.

However, if you believe that Scotland is a nation with an inalienable sovereign right to determine its own fate and its own future – irrespective of what politicians in Westminster think – that is a development to be celebrated, not one to be mourned.

The introduction of devolution has massively boosted Scottish national self-confidence. The cultural and political cringe which blighted this nation for generations is no longer axiomatically accepted, it is increasingly dissected, challenged and rejected. For the first time in the history of Scotland since 1707, a generation of Scots is being raised for whom self-government is normal – a generation which sees no reason why Scotland cannot be a European nation like any other, make its own choices, and forge its own path.

Where Jack was right was in his observation that Scotland is mired in a constitutional debate. However, as the dedicated scion of the Westminster system that he is, he cannot bring himself to blame Westminster for the impasse. Like everything else that a Westminster politician dislikes, it has to be Scotland’s fault.

The uncomfortable truth that Jack and other apologists for British nationalism cannot face up to is that if the Westminster parties had honestly and fully implemented the promises that they made to Scotland in Gordon Brown’s infamous Vow, then we could not currently be mired in the constitutional impasse that is the source of so much emotional distress for Jack.

The reason we are where we are is because the UK which Scotland is a part of is not the UK we were promised if we gave Westminster a vote of confidence in the 2014 referendum.

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Far from living in a federal UK at the heart of the EU, in which Scotland is an equal and respected partner – with a Holyrood whose powers are entrenched and beyond the ability of any Westminster government to meddle with – we have been taken out of the EU against our will. To add insult to injury the Conservative government is hell-bent on using Brexit as an excuse and opportunity to undermine the devolution settlement and hollow out powers.

The immediate cause of the constitutional impasse about which McConnell complains is that the devolution settlement which he and his party were instrumental in bringing about is unable to protect Scotland from these unwelcome and unwanted developments. However, this is not because devolution and a Scottish Parliament exist – but because the Labour Party cynically sought to limit the powers of the Scottish Parliament for its own narrow and short-term party-political interests.

The real reason for Jack’s dismay is that the people of Scotland now have a political mechanism which allows them to vent their displeasure and to create the political and moral authority to bring about a referendum which can end the impasse for good – just not in a way that Jack McConnell might like.

But there would be Scottish people wilfully making up their own mind about things and coming to a different conclusion from an, ahem, champion of Scottish democracy who sits in the House of Lords.