WHA’S like them. Damn few – and happily they’re no a’ deid.

Politicians who attract affection and respect across all the aisles sometimes seem a vanishingly rare breed in those “brutal” times. Yet if you looked at the responses to John Swinney’s ­resignation letter, posted on Twitter, you found folks of all political persuasions and none lining up to laud one of the good guys.

Inevitably there were exceptions. Whilst Anas Sarwar spoke in the chamber of John’s long years of public service, there was, inevitably a Tory on telly who felt able only to say he had gone before he was pushed out. What a load of charmers these Tory laddies are. Not!

John Swinney’s political career, ­distinguished as it was, was not without its bumps along the way. Like those before and certainly after him, he found the ­education portfolio something of a minefield, not least when he was accused of presiding over ­exams which further disadvantaged some pupils in less well performing schools.

His time as finance secretary played much more clearly to his strengths, and at the time he announced he was stepping down he was still serving on the Covid ­Recovery brief, a job for all seasons with no shortage of knotty problems requiring patient unravelling.

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Reputedly warm and witty in private, his scholarly manner in the chamber was never in danger of upping the charisma count, and that same serious demeanour did him no favours during the years he led his ­party. Yet his commitment to the latter could hardly be in doubt since he joined up at 15 when government was a distant ­prospect and served in various backroom roles during the many lean years.

John Swinney, in short, is a man of ­principle; a decent man. A man to whom many of his colleagues would turn when in need of some solid private advice which they knew would remain just that.

The National: John Swinney

In one of life’s odder coincidences, John’s declaration that he would leave in ­tandem with Nicola Sturgeon when the new First Minister emerged, came on the same day, further south, that Boris Johnson, to ­nobody’s great surprise, announced that he would find it difficult to support the ­Windsor Framework, the successor to his own shambolic Northern Ireland ­protocol legislation.

Apparently, no less a Tory grandee than ex chancellor George Osborne has said that Johnson’s only mission in life now is to bring Rishi Sunak down. Sounds all too plausible.

Compared with Swinney, Johnson could be from a different planet. ­Endlessly ­self-serving, cavalier – to be charitable – with the facts, disloyal to a fault, and, far from attracting plaudits, is one of the few politicians I know whose former ­colleagues and employers lined up to tell their own party not to touch him with a 40-foot barge pole.

Johnson suffers greatly from ­selective amnesia. He chooses to forget that in ­tandem with “Lord” Frost he drove through an agreement which would not only end in tears for the business and ­trading community but threatened the painstaking peace process currently ­coming up to its 25 anniversary.

What a shambles it would be if that ­important date were to fall at a time when the Northern Ireland Assembly were still in abeyance thanks to the intransigence of the DUP who, over the years, have been offered more bribes than the ­average council planner. The politically late Theresa May found there was indeed a magic money tree when it came to buying votes from the ultras. Much good it did her.

The carnage from the Johnson period lives on with both the US and the EU ­deciding that here was a man with whom they most certainly couldn’t do ­business. Hardly surprising when his brand of ­diplomacy consisted of talking about his “friends” whilst serially kicking them in the shins. Often a wee thing north of the shins.

The National: Boris Johnson

His chronic inability to keep his ­promises and his lust for personal ­power not only threatened the peace in an ­always febrile province, but effectively scuppered any chance of the trade deal with America which was supposed to be the glittering prize for putting up with the hardest possible Brexit.

There is much reprised footage of ­Johnson at a jolly in Northern Ireland ­assuring his guests that there was no such thing as a border in the Irish sea, and if they found any pesky bureaucratic forms just to bin them or send them straight to him. (Where they could be certain sure he wouldn’t read them!)

Johnson “got Brexit done” in much the same way as Scotland won the World Cup in those long gone years when we used to qualify– which is to say they turned up only find the rest of the contenders ­profoundly underwhelmed by their pre match claims of likely glory. And then blamed defeat on all those nasty ­foreigners being allowed on the same pitch.

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It’s never less than amusing, in a ­macabre sort of way, to hear ­commentators bemoan a perceived lack of talent in the contenders for First Minister at a time when no self respecting whelk stall owner would ever risk going on holiday if the only designated vacation replacement was a member of the current UK cabinet. If you seek a shallow talent pool, look no further than the government front bench in the Commons.

None of which blinds me to the thought that if one of the problems of the Tory government – outside of being a bunch of mean spirited chancers – is that they have been in power too long, then that same accusation could not ­unreasonably be ­levelled at the current ­government

in Scotland. It has been both a blessing and a curse that they came to power and held on to it at a time when it was clear there was no alternative government in waiting.

I laughed out loud the other morning when one of the louder Tory mouths in ­Holyrood moaned about the SNP lacking talent in sufficient depth. Has he checked the polls lately?

The polls are greatly exciting the ­Labour troops who see in Keir Starmer’s long standing lead over the PM’s party, a realistic prospect of getting through the door of Downing Street. Nobody can doubt they’ve worked hard to get to this point from airbrushing the Corbyn years from the family album to making ­socialism history. Poverty will have to wait a little longer.

The National:

SCOTTISH Labour-supporting scribes have taken this southern surge of support as a signal that it can be translated easily to the electorate north of Carlisle. Which quite fails of course to factor in the one issue which caused that party to haemorrhage votes in the first place. If you constantly deny half the population their constitutional rights, and a proportion of the other half will aye vote Tory, then the scope for electoral success is somewhat limited.

Watching the first hustings last week, I was struck by the stated intent of most of the contenders to ensure that the wider electorate is involved in the ­independence movement, and that it must become more than a one party rallying call even if that one party provides the baseline support for the cause.

That, plus the commitment to press the start button on a long delayed ­campaign, is not only a good call politically, but could shoot the Labour Party/Gordon Brown’s decentralisation fox. There are areas of current concern to every ­household, most especially energy, which are the right ­buttons to press to gain both momentum and popular support for independence.

Social media is awash with people pointing out that energy rich Scotland is being shafted with big bills, and that this country should not allow renewables to go the way of fossil fuel rip offs.

Don’t be like Johnson. Hit folks with the facts.