WHEN I was a teenager, I often spent my weekends at an outdoor centre in Northumberland. We would go as a group from school and spend the weekend hill walking, orienteering and doing “practical leadership exercises” that involved crossing imaginary bottomless pits with only a plank and an oil drum – all the usual things.

Mainly what I remember of those trips, however, is the evenings we spent huddled in the common room of the outdoor centre, playing games as the dark rain roared outside. There were shelves filled with Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble and jigsaw puzzles, none of which were particularly well designed to hold the attention of a class of teenage boys after a day on the moors.

No, the thing that got our attention was Jenga, the game where you build a tower and take turns pulling blocks out until they all fall down. The thrill of the game comes from its juxtaposition of tension and release, expectation and surprise. You know that sooner or later, it is all going to come crashing down. You just don’t know when. Block by block, as play progresses, the foundations of the tower are chipped away – and nothing happens. Then one block is pulled out, and without warning, the whole thing comes clattering down with a bang.

READ MORE: 'Truly shocking': Spectator magazine under fire for migrant cartoon

About two weeks ago, when Liz Truss was forced to resign, we were on the verge of such a clattering. As the 1922 Committee removed just one more block, the tower of the British constitution wobbled and shook.

Suddenly, harsh editorials in The Atlantic and stern analyses on Verfassungsblog (a splendidly nerdy German-hosted blog for people who are really into constitutions) were waking up to the reality and severity of the UK’s crisis. This is not only a crisis of policy and leadership but of institutions and governance.

The persistent failure of the UK to deal with its socioeconomic woes is not to be blamed only on particular individuals or even on certain parties. It is a whole-system failure that requires a whole-system solution. It goes right down to the unsure foundations of an ill-constituted, or rather un-constituted, state.

It makes one wonder whether the UK’s unsolved problems are so deeply built into the structure of the post-Hanoverian British state that there can be no fix within that structure.

“The British Constitution under Liz Truss” would almost be worth a book in its own right. So much happened in such a short time to reveal the weaknesses of the constitutional and governance system and the effects of these weaknesses on the ability of the state to serve the public interest.

We all saw the chaos that reigns in a decrepit state that has no over-arching rules, no undergirding principles, no secure processes, and no robust institutions by which the actions of those in power are constrained and channelled. The argument long-made by defenders of the status quo – “yes, it’s absurd in theory, but it works in practice” – was revealed to be a sham.

Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Prime Minister might have brought an end to instability, at least for now. One might not agree with his politics, but compared to his two immediate predecessors, he at least has an air of seriousness and competence. The Conservatives will try to make much of that.

They will also try to show that the ability of the system to kick out Johnson and Truss shows not its weakness but a still-vital strength. In a very limited way, they are right. We still – Gott sei dank! – live in a state where leaders change because elected politicians go to the tearoom and write letters to a committee, not one where changes of government take place because a General has seized the palace.

READ MORE: Tories could be plotting move 'even further' to the right amid 'new Ukip' warning from MP

This does not, however, mean that the constitutional problem has gone away. The ability to remove a terrible leader is an important basic test of a system’s strength, but it is not the only one. At best, it means we are, for now, just about, more-or-less, by the very minimum criteria, still a democracy. That is a low bar.

Sunak’s first Cabinet appointments – Dominic Raab as Justice Secretary and Suella Braverman as Home Secretary – suggest that the right-wing authoritarian-populist turn of the Conservative Party since Brexit is unlikely to be reversed. The erosion of our civil liberties and the undermining of public institutions will continue unabated. The deplorable conditions in which asylum seekers are being held show a callous disregard for human rights. Scotland’s right to determine our own national future in this supposed “union of consent” is still in grave peril.

The wobble of the British Constitution’s once mighty tower cannot be stopped. It is too late to shove the blocks back in and pretend all is well. Scotland (and Wales and England, too) will have to rebuild themselves as new states, in better form, upon surer foundations.

David Clark, former adviser to Labour minister Robin Cook, is the next guest on the TNT show on Wednesday