IT is difficult to see the wood for the trees in politics these days, but one poll really leapt out at me this week which I think goes a long way to explaining where politics is in these islands.

UK voters were asked how they feel about Sunday’s second round of the French presidential election, the “run-off” vote between the two final candidates sitting, president Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, leader of the “National Rally” party.

The poll found that 37% of respondents preferred Macron, with 19% preferring Le Pen (the rest presumably don’t know/don’t care). That seems, from my perspective at least – and, I’d guess from that of most National readers, reassuring.

But when you drill into the results, among Leave voters in the 2016 EU referendum 35% to 19% prefer Le Pen, with 2016 Remain voters a massive 62% for Macron to 7% for Le Pen. And, even more telling, of 2019 Conservative voters, 37% to 24% prefer le Pen.

This strikes me as going a long way to explaining how serial liar Boris Johnson remains in power, and how his enablers and apologists are going to try and keep him there – culture wars. I’ve said long since that I don’t think Mr Johnson is suitable for public office, much less the highest office in the UK, but he is just a symptom of a rotten and rotted political culture that enabled and abetted him in his rise to the top.

READ MORE: Priti Patel accuses SNP of 'slur' against Rwanda after questions on refugee plan

Mr Johnson’s failings were well known and clearly visible and in spite of that the Tories made him leader and hence Prime Minister – and voters under the rotten first-past-the-post system voted him in.

Whether they would do so again is an open question. Certainly, he was blessed in his opponents in the hapless and disunited Corbynite Labour Party in 2019 (remembering of course that in Scotland the SNP had a massive advance, taking many seats, including Stirling, from the Tories, and winning a massive majority of Scottish seats). Would that be the same if facing worthy-if-a-bit-dull Labour under Starmer? I’m not so sure.

The significance of the 2015 Westminster vote in Scotland, where the SNP had an almost clean sweep of seats, was that the Labour Party had so hollowed itself out of members and activists that the organisational structure in many seats was barely a handful of people – the candidate, their staff, partner, kids, and so on – that when that “payroll vote” was removed the long build back to electability was and still is an uphill struggle.

There’s a lesson there for all parties, including the SNP. Without the grassroots, parties die. The same happened in 2019 in the “Red Wall” seats in England. As our independence referendum broke the mould of Scottish politics and the rotten first-past-the-post system then artificially amplified the shift, so has Brexit done the same for big chunks of northern England.

Having turned their backs on Labour, I’m not sure they will simply revert, as Labour hope. If they voted Leave, and would sooner see Marine Le Pen in the Elysee than Macron and are pretty content with their Tory vote – even with Mr Johnson’s faults – I’m not sure they’re clamouring for Mr Starmer.

So, knowing that, and knowing the heartache that is coming down the tracks to us all, with likely

energy rationing this winter, and food bank use already skyrocketing along with inflation, it suits the Tories fine to keep Mr Johnson in place – damaged goods though he may be – to take the hits, until such time as a credible frontrunner to replace him emerges and starts making moves to do so.

So, it is that grim I’m afraid, and there’s no mechanism at Westminster to either force an investigation or win a vote so long as these two factors within the Tory Party continue to be dominant.

It sickens me. I’ve been a card carrying Nat since 1996. I’m a Scottish European and don’t feel in any sense British (though acknowledge of course the reality

I am) but I never felt ashamed to be British until the last few weeks.

The UK Tories have in the last few decades been wilfully mean and nasty on immigration, but the announcement of a simply hateful, unworkable and ruinously expensive offshoring regime (against all civil service advice) as a dead cat to distract from the fact the Prime Minister broke the law and lied about it surely plumbs a new depth.

There’s no money available, but that Priti Patel was somehow able to magic up £120 million for this awful scheme for a deeply dubious partner in Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, without any scrutiny or vote in Parliament tells you just how rotten and rotted Westminster truly is.

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In reality, behind the illusion of democracy, it is ineffective and dysfunctional, and there is no check whatsoever on a government that looks and sounds more and more like National Rally than any vision of One-Nation Conservatism.

This has been noticed in Scotland, too, especially among former Conservative voters appalled at the people they used to vote for.

We in the Yes Movement need to be precise in our criticism. There are people on the right of the political spectrum in Scotland who presently feel entirely adrift. Some are already looking to independence, but those who are still uneasy (while still being appalled by the Tories) are there to be won over.

Scotland and the UK are two different places, with two different destinies. Our challenge is to win that argument for those not yet persuaded.