IT was TW3 in shorthand. And for my generation, tuning in to That Was The Week That Was was required viewing. Now only the Americans do late-night satire, but TW3 was ground-breaking in Britain, though it would have had no little difficulty in satirising this past week.

When Natalie Elphicke crossed the floor to sit behind Keir Starmer, it was as if Suella Braverman had suddenly decided she’d rather like to be president of the RNLI, in charge of scooping up these poor, tired, huddled masses from wee dinghies sinking in the Channel.

Elphicke, after all, is what we might call the right-wingers’ right-winger. As one wag put it, he “didn’t think there was room for anyone further to the right”. Cue the obligatory photo op with her new leader, the absence of his now ubiquitous Union flag less noticeable than her neck sporting a red, white and blue scarf.

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Sir Keir seemed surprised that not all of his troops rejoiced at the Damascene conversion of this sinner to the Labour ranks. It is to be hoped that the price of her desertion of the Tory cause is not – as was persistently rumoured – the promise of a Labour peerage in the Lords. That would be, for many, the ultimate betrayal.

What surprised many of his supporters is that he didn’t immediately kick away the welcome mat, and suggest that if she was scunnered with her fellow Tories, she might like to join other right-wing headbangers in Reform. Then again, perhaps the Elphicke scalp is all of a piece with some of Sir Keir’s other policy pronouncements.

Andrew Marr, the former BBC political editor, now plying his trade, inter alia, in The New Statesman, has just written a very interesting column in its pages comparing Starmer and John Smith. Both middle-aged lawyers but separated by more than temperament and geography, he argues.

Smith, he posits, was more radical than people assumed, and would have been even more so had he lived to wear the Labour crown: “I think that Smith – who I revered – would have been a more radical prime minister than his time as leader of the opposition suggested; I think the same will prove true of Starmer.”

And I think I may make the Olympic hockey squad, Andrew. I get why English voters want to believe that Sir Keir will pop into the nearest telephone box and re-emerge as a superhero of the left.

For many left-leaning voters, Starmer is the only game in town. North of the Border, we have more choice.

Admittedly, John Swinney would not cut a very credible dash as Superman either. Though in essence, that’s what he will have to become to slay the twin dragons of SNP division and Labour ambition. His first First Minister’s Questions certainly suggests that whatever else he lacks, it won’t be bottle.

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In fact, it proved a useful day to examine the field of political play more widely in Scotland. Patrick Harvie – at the back of the queue when the generosity pills were being handed out – couldn’t resist reciting the many and varied reasons why he and his party couldn’t possibly support the candidacy of Kate Forbes given her convictions which, in his book, would take Scotland back to the 1950s.

A rather more measured contribution came from fellow Green MSP Ross Greer who did much of the heavy lifting during the short-lived Bute House Agreement. He did the more in sorrow than in anger number, supposing his being bisexual would put him well beyond Ms Forbes’s pale.

I do not know Forbes personally. Certainly not as well as the many colleagues with whom she had a perfectly civilised relationship when she was a cabinet secretary. And to whom her private views would have been well known.

I do know that she sent congratulations and best wishes to a mutual friend when he and his fiancée had a child born before they wed. Harvie might wish to take note of that generous gesture and that she voted for the legislation providing buffer zones outside clinics offering terminations.

I do know that former Westminster leader Ian Blackford is also a member of the Free Kirk – though, in fairness, he has taken a more liberal view of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

He also spent much of his adult life as an investment banker in financial services. Not that his beliefs, or where he lives on the political spectrum, were ever put under anything like the same scrutiny as Forbes.

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The Tories have perhaps had the most difficult time. In addition to three defectors crossing the floor, they have an unprecedented number of MPs deciding that even if they don’t want to spend more time with their families, they very much don’t want humiliated at the election.

In Scotland, their not-so-merry band of brothers still cherish hope that enough of their blue base will stay true and return them to perhaps a life of opposition. (Or in the case of the “Scotland” secretary, a cushy berth in the upper house.) There are even some of their number who actually expect to gain seats. It may be delusional, but whatever it takes to get you through the day.

In a sense, the Scottish Tories have the same problem as the Westminster brigade, if written slightly smaller. They too have gone through a number of leaders since the days of McLetchie and Goldie.

David McLetchie, who died at only 61, was in office from the birth of the parliament ‘til 2005 when he resigned over his taxi bill, allegedly used for Conservative rather than constituency business.

These were the days when the word “scandal” was routinely attached to relatively mundane indiscretions – see Henry McLeish’s muddle-not-a-fiddle over his office lease.

Nothing at all comparable with the recent outbreak of positively lurid departures from the Commons.

Then came Annabel Goldie who lasted a year longer before plumping for pastures new. Jackson Carlaw lasted barely a year. By common consent, the most vigorous holder of the post was Ruth Davidson, who regularly badmouthed Boris before accepting a peerage from him. She took the tally of Scottish Tory MPs up to 13.

And so to Douglas Ross, whom it is never difficult to distinguish from a ray of sunshine. A chap who obviously missed the memo about the need for more collegiate behaviour at Holyrood.

So there has been much changing of the guards in the 25 years since Holyrood first opened its doors. Those of us fortunate to have witnessed both the false start in the Assembly Halls and the subsequent one in the Miralles building still have vivid memories of both occasions.

Vivid memories too of the now seven first ministers, some of them, to be brutally frank, more effective than others. What most of us had in those early days of devolution was an unquenchable optimism about the future. We wanted so much to live up to the slogan of working in the early days of a better nation.

In truth, very many of us still do. There has been much chatter in recent days of people grievance-mongering; too prone to blame Westminster rather than taking responsibility for our own mistakes.

Yet the truth is that you really can’t aspire to be that better nation while still yoked to another administration; one which holds the whip hand over your budgeting, your borrowing and your ability to live and ultimately thrive as a small, successful, European nation.

Scotland is not uniquely incompetent. It very well might prove to be uniquely blessed in terms of its natural resources. We will never find out while we remain a dependency rather than a fully functioning country.