THERE isn’t much in the world that hasn’t been the subject of an academic paper and one on the prevalence in politics of what the Germans call schadenfreude – defined as the pleasure that comes from witnessing the troubles of others – was written up more than a decade ago by a group of experimental psychologists from the University of Kentucky.

They did their research in America but if they are still interested in the topic they could presently fill their notebooks with new observations on Holyrood. Schadenfreude is not a noble emotion but given how the Scottish Tories have cheered their Westminster colleagues over many years (and particularly since Brexit) as those self-same colleagues poured scorn, contempt and disdain on the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people we can all, I think, be forgiven a few moments of gloating as they wake up to the awful reality of how they are actually regarded by their party bosses south of the Border.

I think the worst of all the insults was not Jacob Rees-Mogg’s description of wee Dougie Ross as a political lightweight – after all he is – but that desiccated stick insect’s assertion that Ross is of even less significance than the worst Secretary of State for Scotland in history.

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Alister Jack’s contributions to Scottish debate and to the public good of his country have been non-existent and, as I have noticed when I have had to thole him at meetings, he usually gives the impression of being a stuck-up but somewhat dim aristocratic extra in a dull episode of Downton Abbey.

This is, of course, the froth of politics. However, beneath it lies a simple but harsh truth. The Scottish Tories, like Scotland itself, will never be of any importance to Westminster save to be, in the words of Edward Carson a century ago when speaking of Ulster: “Puppets ... in the political game ... to get the Conservative Party into power.”

The same is, of course, also true of the Labour Party. For it, too, Scotland is merely the same means to the same end of UK Government and it has already paid a heavy price for that cynical exploitation.

It is, however, a measure of the complete incompetence and failure of Boris Johnson as a political leader that the cat is so clearly out of the bag on the matter now. He is not only an arrogant fool and a serial liar, he has surrounded himself with arrogant fools and serial liars. Previous Tory and Labour prime ministers have done their damndest to hide the fact from Scotland and from their own party stalwarts north of the Border. A game has been played over many years in which the pretence of relevance has been politely lauded while behind the scenes the insulting reality was chuckled about by those who were really in charge.

Of course, once the veil of deceit has been torn away, those who learn from experience and are not blinded by prejudice or slavish self-interest must draw the obvious conclusion.

The vital issue is not who is in 10 Downing Street, but rather how the power that lies there can be brought back to Scotland and exercised by those elected by the Scottish people themselves. How, in other words, we become a normal nation.

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It goes without saying that Johnson should not be Prime Minister. He is an amoral, self-serving, duplicitous disgrace and his actions and character failings are a danger to all those around him. The culture of arrogant entitlement which has infected 10 Downing Street was created by him and has spread into his entire government and party.

Excising lawbreaking and restoring the norms of public morality requires him to go, though as he has re-created the Tory Party and substantial parts of current English political discourse in his own image, changing that (as the Americans are finding with Trump and the Republicans ) will be a long- term project. But even that change will fail the tests that Scotland needs to set with regard to its own future.

Those are the same tests that make devo-max no answer at all to the challenges that confront us as a nation today. A new UK prime minister, Tory or Labour, would not create the circumstances in which Scotland could rejoin the EU.

They would never permit us to close our borders in a pandemic nor to choose how to recover from it. They would always dump their nuclear weapons on our soil. They could not guarantee that all the resources of Scotland would, at last, benefit all the people of Scotland. They, by their very existence, would epitomise the democratic outrage which means those who speak and decide for Scotland do not have to be elected by her.

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UK prime ministers will always be committed defenders of Westminster sovereignty, leaving a Scottish Parliament hanging on its perilous string, able to be cut down to size, or cut down completely, at the whim of another parliament and never able to assert its right over theirs no matter what the Scottish people demanded.

Over the next few days and weeks the media coverage will all be about who is up and who is down, who might win and who might lose, in the race to replace Johnson. In Scotland deeply tainted figures such as Ross and Baroness Davidson will attempt to save their skins by rewriting history and hypocritically distancing themselves from those they placed in power.

Don’t be fooled. Getting rid of Johnson is a necessary step towards a better Scotland, but it is far from being a sufficient one.

Never forget that Scotland has not voted for a Tory Government for more than 60 years. Being governed by such a party, contemptuous of even its own Scottish members and intent only on saving its grip on power can never – ever – be a substitute for making our own decisions at home and abroad.