AS we digest the impact of last week's elections across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, some patterns and lessons are becoming clear.

Across the Celtic nations, parties supporting independence – or the unification of an independent Ireland – did well. In Scotland, the SNP and the Scottish Greens both performed well. However, under the rigorously proportional STV voting system used in Scottish local elections, most local authorities are administered by a coalition of parties and it is unusual for a single party to control a council – nevertheless, the SNP took control of the Yes stronghold of Dundee City.

In Wales, where first-past-the-post was used for last week's local elections, the pro-independence Plaid Cymru took control of three councils despite seeing a net loss of six council seats across the country.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, the Unionist parties lost control of the province for the first time since it was carved out of Ireland a hundred years ago with borders drawn to ensure what was thought would be a perpetual Unionist majority. This is a seismic shift in the balance of power in the six counties between Irish republicans and British Unionists, a shift which the Unionist parties in general and the DUP in particular will struggle to come to terms with.

It is a historic loss which was very much created by the DUP themselves, with their blind intransigence and their decision to support Brexit as a tool which they hoped would bring down the Good Friday Agreement, create a hard border on the island of Ireland and fatally undermine any hopes of Irish unification.

Instead, the DUP have unwittingly engineered a customs border between Northern Ireland and Britain, made Irish unification more likely and brought down themselves, not the Good Friday Agreement. You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh. The DUP are currently in an almighty sulk as they try to justify a refusal to accept the subordinate position of Deputy First Minister as the post of First Minister is taken by Sinn Fein.

The long-term pattern is clearly one of the continuing disintegration of the UK. Of course nothing is inevitable in politics, but there is little sign that the anti-independence parties, and especially the Conservatives, have the political imagination or willingness to carry out the changing of the structure of the British state that is required to reverse the tide. Instead we see threats, scaremongering and obstructionism, which are short-term tactics, not a long-term solution.

In Scotland, the big short-term political story is the self-immolation of the Conservatives and their massive losses across the country. In Edinburgh, the Tories suffered the humiliation of plunging to fourth place in terms of vote share, ceding first place to the SNP. To make things even worse for the Tories, they are now the smallest party with representation on the council, with fewer councillors than the Greens. Tory voters deserted en masse to the LibDems, who doubled the number of seats they have on the council.

The Conservatives did poorly across the UK, but outside London and Scotland their losses were not as bad as some in the party had feared. The elections may not have proven to be the coup de grace on Johnson's time in Downing Street that his many critics were hoping for. There have been few rumblings or rumours of a fresh attempt to unseat the Prime Law Breaker from backbench Conservatives following the election results. Johnson is certainly not out of the woods yet, but the immediate threat to his leadership seems to have receded for now.

It's the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross whose leadership is now in question. Many in the Scottish Conservatives pin the blame for the party's abysmal performance on him. The Tories were the only party with representation at Holyrood not to make gains last week. Instead they lost 63 council seats and saw Labour overtake them as the largest anti-independence party. Since their opposition to independence is pretty much all that the Scottish Tories have to offer, this is an alarming development for the party.

Ross's spineless flip-flopping over partygate has only proven the accuracy of Jacob Rees-Mogg's jibe that the Scottish Tory leader is a lightweight. According to reports in the Record newspaper, informal talks have already taken place among Conservative MSPs about replacing him. Questions have been raised about why Ross is continuing to back Johnson as leader while simultaneously blaming him for the Scottish Tories' dismal showing last week. In an attempt to shore up his position, Ross announced the appointment of Meghan Gallacher as deputy leader.

However in the immediate term, the question is whether it will be Boris Johnson or Douglas Ross that the Tories knife in the back first.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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