CRITICS of the various Covid inquiries have got themselves a script.

They say, with more or less one voice, that there is far too much blame gaming and not nearly enough about what we’ve learned that will help next time around. (And the scientists also speak with one voice when they warn in unison that there WILL be a next time.)

The critics have a point. I’m as ­enthusiastic as pretty much anybody else about enjoying the Dominic Cummings/Matt Hancock or Jeremy Hunt/Dominic Raab combos getting a long-overdue ­public kicking. And we still have the principal party animal, Boris Johnson, to come. That will undoubtedly be a cause for laughter, ­albeit the hollow variety.

Yet if what we got most wrong last time round was getting ready for an ­influenza variant rather than a Sars one, it’s not ­unreasonable to argue that the main ­focus of the inquiry should be how to do it all ­better when the solid matter hits the fan again.

READ MORE: London knows best: UK's Covid Inquiry sends clear message on devolution

The next pandemic will surely be in more competent hands – the bar is not high – but we need to examine in detail how to ­tackle what that nice Donald Rumsfeld once called the “known unknowns”.

Doing that won’t stop us ensuring that ­ermine-clad chancers like Michelle Mone get their proper comeuppance, but it might just help save a few more thousand lives.

The National: Michelle Mone has admitted involvement with PPE Medpro for the first time

There used to be a cabinet post with a portfolio which encompassed “black swan events” – things that might never happen but for which adequate preparation and provision had to be made.

The pandemic which changed all our lives from late 2019 was exactly that – a big black swan which changed the course of history, impacted nations globally, and needed a clear vision and a steady pair of hands to steer populations through the worst.

You might argue that the UK Cabinet – not to mention the prime minister – on whom these tasks devolved, could hardly have been more comprehensively miscast.

Yet as the inquiries rumble on and the commentary becomes more emboldened, it strikes me that almost every line of ­similar criticism could equally well apply to ­Scottish independence and the 2014 ­referendum.

This was a crucial event in Scottish terms – UK terms too for that matter – the loss of which to the independence movement has never been examined adequately. Instead, just like the Covid saga, we’ve become ­obsessional about who did what to whom; who cocked up most comprehensively We’re endlessly caught up in a different kind of blame game but one which also places the importance of historical events well above future planning.

This last week saw the Alba Party launch what they called an idea to break the logjam on independence, which turned out to be a reheated version of Alex ­Salmond’s plan B from more than 10 years ago. What to do if David Cameron said no.

Yet the same week also saw Salmond launch another legal missile at the people he deemed responsible for putting him in the dock in Edinburgh almost four years ago.

READ MORE: Andrew Tickell: The questions that remain over Scottish handling of Horizon scandal

I was not one of the journalists who sat through these proceedings, so my views have merely been formed by my personal knowledge of the dramatis personae.

I remain convinced, however, that it was beyond bizarre for the then head of the civil service in Scotland to stay in post, having lost a Salmond-initiated judicial review which cost us all £600,000. And inexplicable that she had her contract ­extended.

That is all blood under the bridge. But it seems that blood might now be spilt afresh, despite a lengthy inquiry which found that Nicola Sturgeon had not breached the Ministerial Code, and a lengthy trial which resulted in Salmond being acquitted on all charges.

What the independence movement needs like the metaphorical hole in the head is for old wounds to be re-opened and old scores brought back into the ­public domain for settlement.

It may be that Salmond is motivated by the thought that it is now or never given the statute of limitations which might have been applied. From where I’m ­sitting, it never would have been the better option for a man for whom independence is still unfinished business.

Just as I think Salmond could once have been a potent elder statesman rather than founding a new political party, many of whose members seem determined to pull down the indy house down around them.

The National: Former First Minister Alex Salmond

Of course they are frustrated at the lack of urgency. Me too. Of course they mourn the failure to grasp assorted ­nettles post Brexit or at peak Boris more aggressively. Again, they are far from alone in that.

But what part of the electorate do they think listens to their endless, bile-laden, high-pitched whine and concludes that’s the sort of folk I want to march ­alongside? A party which resolutely revisits history is not one with a future.

How many MPs do they think they can amass at the UK General Election if their current two stand under an Alba ­banner rather than an SNP one? This is not about their individual qualities, just the ­electoral reality of what routinely ­happens to renegades.

How many MSPs in 2026? Again this is not to diss individual candidates, ­merely to observe that when electoral push comes to voting shove most people revert to their old comfort zones.

That will not prove good news for Alba who, despite all their sound and ­insistent fury, will not likely buck the political trend.

In 2024 or early 2025 some people will still vote Tory despite living under a quite disastrous regime. The kind of people who managed to convince ­themselves that Alister Jack was the “best Scot at ­Westminster” instead of the most ­prominent UK spy in our camp.

Consider, if you can bear it, what ­happened to Ukip, many of whose ­members now belong to Reform UK, which was heir to the one-time Brexit Party. Former proprietor, that kenspeckle muppet in the jungle Nigel Farage.

For the common denominator of all those failed endeavours, until he resigned, was our Nigel, now tipped to try for a berth in the Tory Party in whose right-wing he might well feel at home. Or in its mainstream since, these days, one-nation Conservatism can only be glimpsed in the rearview mirror.

Nigel, you’ll recall, never managed to win any seat he contested for the ­Commons, and when he finally became a member of the European Parliament, he picked up handsome fiscal rewards for popping over to Brussels or Strasbourg to trash the body he claimed he was anxious to join.

Meanwhile, the Reform Party, as the saying goes, are very much all mouth and nae trousers. They too have still to muster a single victory. While the latest polling suggests that Leave voters en masse are suffering from buyers’ regret.

It will mean that some who left Labour for the SNP will clutch their former apron strings in the belief that things “can only get better”. Indeed they can and might, but in terms of moving the indy dial along a notch or two, you might as well vote for Rishi Sunak as Keir Starmer.

It’s a lazy social media trope to call Starmer a red Tory, but beyond any doubt, he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist. The ­Scottish Labour Party, something of a misnomer since their strings are still pulled from London, might dare a moment of dissent over the war in the Middle East. But they too are solidly Unionist, unlike some of their adherents.

Indeed, we live in a world where there is absolutely no shortage of Unionist voices. Independence supporters impersonating sacks of trapped ferrets will merely give more power to their assorted elbows.