THIS is my last regular column for the Sunday National. It’s been some ride.

Some four years ago, I sat down to a meeting in The National Piping Centre in Glasgow with the then-National editor ­Richard Walker.

We talked generally for a bit before I pitched the idea of a regular piece on ­matters ­constitutional. We agreed there was a gap in the market. Scotland was committed to ­a constitutional change of some form, but no one seemed to know much about the subject.

Politicians often glibly talked of things ­being unconstitutional, for example. But what does this actually mean – particularly in a Scottish sense? It raised a bunch of questions back then. Does Scotland have a constitution? What does it mean for ordinary folks that the British ­constitution is unwritten and uncodified? More fundamentally, who cares?

As editor, he had to deal with the awkward question of why should he proceed when other press outlets showed not the slightest ­interest in constitutions. (In this regard, little has changed over this time, despite the case that ­constitutional issues have moved way up the ­political agenda.)

To his great credit, Richard decided to give the go-ahead. It’s always a mark of smart people that they can see what others can’t.

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I’d like to sign off with a quick look at the years ahead. There is a reason that Scotland is increasingly ignored. It’s a symbol of the final ­retreat of the British Empire to its true core – the south east of England. Not the North or ­Midlands or elsewhere, but its essential ­heartland – the South East. That’s the state Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are actually fighting over.

The rest does not matter much, except ­perhaps the use of its representatives as lobby fodder. ­Labour will fail other parts of these islands, if and when elected.

Ironically even the interests of the South East are not secure. Brexit has put paid to its long-term future. This means the rest must be ­sacrificed to keep the South East in the ­manner to which it has become accustomed for the time being.

Every prime minister from now on will seem like a political eunuch to those places outside the charmed South East. PMs will look and sometimes sound the same, but they will be ­unable to consummate any improvement in the lives of those outside the London area. Great plans will be announced on a regular basis only to be diluted or soon abandoned.

If England can stay together, despite its ­politicians, it is likely that the people of England will get the chance to do what Scots have done for decades. To have a conversation about who they are and what they want to be. To decide the values and principles that will take them ­forward as one country or several.

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I earnestly hope this happens. The English are a fine people and will make good neighbours. They deserve and are entitled to have this ­conversation about the best way forward. Right now, England is particularly poorly served by its politicians. But its thinkers have a clear view of a better future. I know because I have spoken to many of them on the TNT Show. All see the flaws and know the solutions. As the empire collapses, it is my hope these views will get the recognition they warrant.

No valedictory message would be complete without thanking the many good folks who made this column possible. To do so ­individually would take much more space than afforded here, so forgive me if I settle upon a few to ­represent you all.

First, my column colleague, Dr Elliot Bulmer, merits a special vote of thanks.

While I may have leaned sometimes ­towards the rhetoric, he was always factual and ­profound in his contributions. I look ­forward to the day when his excellent work on ­constitutions – ­including his many fine books – get the ­recognition they so richly deserve, ­especially in the land he loves.

Across the years, the editors of the Sunday National have always been on hand to guide and support, but never censor.

Also, I want to thank you – the readers. Your comments have been invaluable.

Most of all, I want to thank Scotland. Its people and places have been a love of my life. You have in equal parts annoyed and delighted me. Annoyed because you have still to take the courage of your convictions in your own hands, and move to the place you deserve amongst the fellowship of nations – free to make your own choices.

Delighted because I have also seen the very best of my countrymen and women. Your ­fortitude sustains me and others who labour to make Scotland a better place for all its people.

Stay safe and take care, Scotland. Your best times lie ahead.