NOBODY really agrees to whom, or even when Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said it was “events, dear boy, events” which could hole party leaders below the water line.

Yet he wasn’t wrong. The political ­graveyard is full of former high flyers, shot down in flames by assorted events.

The most recent high-profile example was the unlovely Boris Johnson, derailed by his cavalier attitude to Covid and the fact that his indecision proved both final and fatal.

I was amused, in a dark sort of way when his erstwhile comms chief, during the UK ­Covid inquiry, said the pandemic was merely the “wrong sort of crisis” for a PM with “the wrong skillset”. A chap who longed to spread blustery, boosterish, ­enthusiasm rather than declare a national daily death toll.

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In truth, since crises, by definition, ­invariably spell bad news, it might have been instructive for Lee Cain, joined at the hip to his hoppo Dominic Cummings, to tell us precisely which variety would have played to Johnson’s supposed “strengths”.

Happily, however, Johnson is no longer on the bridge of a ship which continues its Titanic-like progress towards the next test of public opinion. (Though I’ll only believe he is properly out as well as down when he finally falls off his perch.) Which brings us to the man who would be king – though not of the world this time- the current Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

His own vessel has had so many sails trimmed of late that many voters think it is now voyaging under a mere flag of ­historical convenience.

His one not-inconsiderable trump card is that his team is better than the current lot, though it has to be said the bar has ­rarely been lower. Hitherto he has been able to rely on the undeniable truth that, in a UK context at least, only Labour can ditch the Tories.

The National: Starmer

Judging by the number of the ­latter ­jumping ship, it’s clear a lot of Conservatives have come to a similar ­conclusion.

But then along came an event even more earth-shattering than the war in Ukraine. Starmer’s cack-handed response to a ­question on LBC, married to his failure to recognise his error of judgement for a ­calendar week – famously a very long time in politics – found him in a bind which gets more tortuous by the day.

It’s not just Muslim voters and ­councillors and MPs attached to ­Labour who are looking on in total horror at the ­unfolding humanitarian ­catastrophe in that sliver of land called Gaza, but ­shedloads of uncommitted ­voters who can’t believe he can condone its ­continuing, or refuse to try to help ­orchestrate a ceasefire.

Being horror-stricken by what Hamas did to innocent Israelis – to babies and grandmothers and festival-going ­teenagers – is surely no barrier to being appalled at the Israeli Defence Force’s slaughter of Palestinian innocents.

Sir Keir made a bad call and, as ­previous Labour heavyweight Denis ­Healey once memorably observed: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”.

In his speech to Chatham House, ­Starmer repeated his belief that a ­ceasefire was the wrong option because “a ceasefire always freezes any conflict in the state where it currently lies”.


For the same reason, it might freeze the carnage. And what of his ­preferred solution a “humanitarian pause” to get some supplies in and some dual ­nationals out? Then what? Start bombing the hell out of Gaza all over again?

We know three things for certain. Wars are easier to start than to stop. Death and destruction are no match for patient ­diplomacy.

The desire for wholescale vengeance may be understandable, but another ­killing spree never solved anything.

Even Labour’s Scottish leader, Anas Sarwar, has felt it necessary to put clear pinkish water between himself and his boss, as he is well aware of the impact of nightly images of impossible hardship and distress.

The United Nation’s rapporteurs on the ground have pronounced it probable ­genocide, to which the IDF response is that they were merely repeating Hamas propaganda. Tell that to the parents ­trying to dig their dead kids out of the rubble.

Less bloody events have been tumbling out the Scottish woodwork all this while. New polling which suggests that Labour have won back thousands of ­defectors to the SNP, and a rather higher-profile ­defection, as one-time would-be SNP ­leader, Ash Regan, decamped to Alba.

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Then there was the rather startling ­interview with Greens co-leader ­Lorna Slater where – asked if support for ­independence might be a red line not to be crossed if a deal with Labour was on the table – said: “Absolutely not”.

All of which is not even to mention the stushie over who kept and who binned WhatsApp messages during the Scottish end of the Covid pandemic TO take the last point first, I’ve always thought the favoured metal for Tory leaders’ necks north of the Border was solid brass.

Yet mine wasn’t the only gobsmacked when Douglas Ross chose to attack ­Scottish ministers’ behaviour, following a week when it became ever more evident that 10 Downing Street was incapable of ­organising a booze-up in a brewery ­unless, of course, they were throwing a private party.

The families of the Covid bereaved in Scotland deserve the fullest possible ­account of how our government tackled this disaster, no question, but I know many senior politicians put their own lives on hold for a couple of years to give it their best shot. Can you say the same of Matt Hancock, to take a name at ­absolute random?

Slater used her own column in our weekly paper to try and shed light on that rather extraordinary riposte to a BBC Scotland interviewer. The first half of her commentary underlined her belief in independence and that Labour and Tory had “formed a coalition against change”.

The latter half suggests that “our ­position on the constitution wouldn’t block us working with other politicians to introduce rent controls and tackle child poverty, for example”.

Or block them from joining forces with an avowedly Unionist party? Your guess is assuredly as good as mine.

What I do know is that complaining about sharing a corridor with Ash Regan because her stance is different from theirs on trans matters is, frankly, juvenile and petty. Not least when Slater herself ­argues that “it was the same with gender ­recognition reform where we worked across party lines to ensure the biggest majority possible”.

So long as the party people in ­question were fully signed up to the Greens’ ­position, that is.

Insisting that colleagues toe your ­predetermined line, is not “building ­consensus” so much as holding fast to your own worldview. She might find “building consensus” with Labour MSPs over the benefits of independence a rather taller order. Especially if you’re ­supposedly dedicated to a constitutional change in favour of a Scottish nation-state.

The Scottish National Party, having been the party of government for a very long time, will find it difficult to persuade swithering voters that they have a new ­offer worthy of consideration at the ­ ballot box.

To the doubters, I would add these thoughts. If you are truly committed to Scotland becoming an independent ­nation then neither the Conservatives nor Labour is on your side.

The Tories because the former Conservative and ­Unionist Party remain as wedded to the Unionist label as ever before.

Labour will doubtless try to woo you with warm words about strengthening devolution, probably penned by Gordon Brown who, while significantly more ­politically savvy than most other recent Labour leaders, has been punting the same rather weary line about federal-style powers for a very long time.

I don’t believe him. Not sure Sir Keir Starmer does either.