AS Boris Johnson took to his feet for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, I switched off the wireless and went outside to survey my tadpoles. Thanks to them (and their canny mums) the garden pond now contains a pleasing probability of new life, development and progress.

Even the feistiest session of PMQs contains none of these things.

Let the rhetoric not fool anyone.

Scotland, democracy, independence and our precious belief in these goals are all going nowhere fast at Westminster.

No matter the speakers’ verbal skills, the insults chosen, the scornful parallels drawn, the emotional hurt to constituents carefully described – no matter what or how well opposition leaders perform, nothing happens.

READ MORE: Can Boris Johnson survive today's vote on whether he lied to the Commons?

In a few weeks’ time, when froglets are louping all over my bit of North Fife, Boris Johnson will still be at the despatch box – lying, provoking, trivialising, distracting and soaking up attention from supporters and critics alike, like the political life-giving oxygen it has become. Why put ourselves through it?

So yesterday I didn’t. It may seem a very minor thing, but for a political columnist not listening to PMQs is a major step. After all we’re led to believe that despite his Commons’ apology, the Partygate fine (with more likely on the way) means Boris Johnson is on the ropes.

So, doubtless, the eyes of other political commentators were on the Prime Minister yesterday, as he faced the renewed onslaught of Messers Starmer and Blackford, before jetting off on a conveniently arranged trip to India which means Labour’s contempt vote today will be directed at an empty chair.

But really what difference will it actually make? What difference did the Tuesday “apology” statement and debate make? There was praise for strongly delivered opposition speeches which managed to avoid the “ungentlemanly” accusation of lying – but afterwards Boris Johnson was as untouchable as before.

So why tune in?

It only encourages a man who exists to be the centre of attention and seems to have convinced all political opponents, that some well-crafted parliamentary moment will be his downfall. It won’t.

What will happen – as voters keep watching this pointless, parliamentary charade – is serious disillusionment and frustration. Especially for Yessers.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Why are SNP MPs continuing to play nice? Why not call Boris a liar and get thrown out time after time? You can see why Sir Keir Land-of-Hope-and-Glory Starmer is playing it by the book. His only hope of election is to outdo the Tories and cut the credible establishment figure Johnson can’t. But what’s the SNP strategy? Coming closer than Labour to telling it like it really is on the porkie front – almost, a wee bit, for a few minutes, once?

No matter what well-rehearsed questions are lobbed at the Prime Minister, he evades or repurposes at lightning speed, creating a new scapegoat here, an apparent double standard there.

Within seconds Johnson is off doing what he does best – playing the opposition leaders, not their arguments. He thrives on their endless brooding disapproval and will cheerfully take on any part of civic society that stands up to him – including the Archbishop of Canterbury, human rights lawyers and – give him time – “unelected toffs” in the Lords who are blocking his government’s repellent Nationality and Borders Bill.

Yip, even though he put the bulk of them in there, Johnson won’t hesitate to attack and “other” them if it helps win the day.

It’s also so bloody predictable.

The only question – why keep watching? Why let Johnson fight on the battleground of his own choosing? It’s the political equivalent of Culloden not Bannockburn every time. Why?

Listening to MPs holding Boris Johnson to account prompts memories of a Monty Python sketch that featured Doug Piranha – a London gangster who used sarcasm to torment his victims – “He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire”. Boris – a scholar of rhetoric – knows those tricks too.

He cannot be out-talked. He might be out-performed and out-thought.

But he can be outcast from the centre of our political attention – IF an alternative bold vision is placed front and centre. A plan for independence and a strategy for PMQs that doesn’t seek to wound yet inadvertently magnify the ego and Teflon status of Boris Johnson.

Britain has always prided itself on the power of words. Articulacy is highly rated. But this week we have seen highly articulate speeches getting the causes of independence and social democracy precisely nowhere.

Of course, jaw, jaw is better than war, war. But enough high falutin’ talk already. What’s the plan?

At one point Keir Starmer (below) said Boris Johnson’s antics had ruined careers and brought the whole of politics and democracy into disrepute. But it’s worse than that.

The National: Sir Keir Starmer

The handwringing, the faux outrage, the inability to use words like liar (accurate and proven) as if the delicate sensibilities of MPs were stuck somewhere in the Victorian era – these are part of the antics too, and part of democracy’s dangerous decline, because they serve to conceal the basic fact that nothing can be done about Boris Johnson by the “Mother of Parliaments”.

His fate rests entirely in the hands of his own MPs – a cohort vastly inflated in size by the Tories penchant for democracy-distorting first-past-the-post elections.

The idea Boris can be browbeaten into defeat is an obvious pretence - and it makes SNP supporters wonder why our MPs even bother heading south. It makes them (and us) pawns in a game we no longer want to play. Or watch.

Who can seriously bear to sit through yet another piece of parliamentary choreography – where opposition leaders promise the PM will be held to account, even though his naked contempt for the whole proceedings is eloquently expressed today by the fact he isn’t even there?

It’s noticeable that Labour and SNP leaders are now invoking public opinion polls as proof that Johnson isn’t getting away from partygate Scot free.

Well, three cheers for the public then. Remind me. Why do we need a parliament?

Exchanges at the despatch box haven’t shifted the public mood. It’s the simple fact Boris Johnson has repeatedly broke his own laws. It’s the simple contrast between his entitlement and their compliance with rules – for the greater good.

I appreciate SNP MPs are doing a difficult job. I wouldn’t fancy it. And it’s hard to square the circle. SNP MPs stood on a platform of taking their seats and acting as a constructive opposition. Yet Scottish voters expect more from the party of independence than point-scoring in the Chamber.

The National:

In a tweet, the SNP said Ian Blackford (above) had “eviscerated Boris Johnson over his serial lawbreaking and lying”. And yet Johnson emerged unscathed. Don’t folk realise that overegged claims of damage inflicted simply add to the Johnson “legend” when he’s seen to brush them casually aside?

Meanwhile one thing’s certain. Boris is using the copious opportunities offered by impotent foaming at Westminster to cover up some big problems.

He is apparently set to announce a fourth delay to checks on goods imported from the European Union (which should have happened in December 2020) in case they further inflame the cost-of-living crisis, and remind English journalists of Brexit’s enduring destructive power.

So, will there be a reference to the Committee of Privileges after today’s debate?

No – and it doesn’t matter anyway. Boris has parliamentary procedure twisted around his little finger – the biggest imaginable condemnation of the Commons and the SNP’s current efforts within it.

We urgently need a new approach.