"Scotland hasn't failed; its leadership has failed" – it's not often I agree with Alex Salmond, but the former SNP First Minister's summary of the SNP performance in office is one that has my whole-hearted support.
It has failed Scotland, in almost every way: failed to support business, failed to reduce drug deaths, failed to meet health targets, including those designed to support young people needing help with mental health problems.
The party elected to be "stronger for Scotland" has overseen such a fall in Scottish schoolchildren’s achievement levels, compared to international levels, that it is too ashamed to reveal the actual figures.
The SNP is in truth the wreckers of devolution, constitutional thugs, scheming and twisting broadly drafted and weakly defined devolved powers, to create a legal and political wall between Scotland and other parts of the UK, justified by a hatred of ‘Tories’ and ‘Westminster (England)’.
Westminster has, unfortunately, during most of the past two decades been complicit in these actions, not challenging the devolved administrations when they have poached in reserved areas by, for example, directing millions of pounds from Scottish schools and hospitals to pay for projects and international offices attempting to emulate the network of embassies that the UK already has in place .
One of the most harmful shortcomings has been the lack of action on the commitments of the 2016 Smith Commission, whereby all parties signed up to deliver further devolution to local authorities and communities.
Instead, we have seen the continuing centralisation of power in Edinburgh, unmatched by increased powers of scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament. The result is the fiasco of the Salmond enquiry, accusations of Nicola Sturgeon misleading Parliament , and public satisfaction in public services at an all-time low.
For the best part of two decades Westminster passed a conveyor belt of powers to the devolved administrations that would have made a contestant on the Generation Game blush.
And there was the mistake – passing the powers to the Scottish Government, without looking at strengthening the Scottish Parliament and the levers opposition MSPs have at their disposal to challenge an ever more powerful executive.
Furthermore, promises that powers passed to Edinburgh would be devolved further to local authorities and communities look hollower today than even the most ardent sceptics imagined at the time.
Although we are awaiting the result of the Scottish elections , the expected SNP majority is looking less certain than 10 months ago, and the unionist leaders are working hard to deny the SNP that majority.
Regardless of the arithmetic after May 6, if the British Government and pro-UK voices want to make a United Kingdom the "settled will", and not a constant knife-edge of political destruction, we need to look again at how devolution is working and why powers have not been passed to local authorities and communities, as previously promised.
This means taking the proposals of the Smith Commission seriously and considering those in communities, such as the Shetland Isles, who are already demanding self-determination from SNP Scotland .
And it is time to be radical. The politics of reform are always difficult, and opponents are always keen to cast your ideas as an affront, but we must consider how Britain should continue in the 21st Century. Can we strengthen the Scottish Parliament's committee structure, introduce a form of parliamentary privilege, and develop a more robust backbench culture, emulating some of the positive features of Westminster?
Furthermore, if we truly believe in devolution and localism, should we not enable Scottish local authorities to have more flexibilities in the services they provide. For example, Parliament could allow Shetland to access block grant money directly and then choose which of its public services it "buys" from Holyrood or Westminster and which it wants to provide directly.
Shetlanders may want to have a local islands police force, with only coordinating support from Police Scotland via Edinburgh, and extra cyber security from London. This would enable local leaders to choose their own menu of services and engage as they choose with devolved and reserved matters.
This need not stop at Shetland or even Scotland: a new "radical localism" could be deployed in England and Wales too, complementing and/or enhancing some of the mayoralties already in place in England.
The strengthening of local authorities would be a radical change and these ideas need considerably more debate and consideration, but they should encourage politicians to step away from constitutional politics and concentrate on delivery of public services; a real chance to improve life opportunities and truly be "stronger for Scotland".
In the past few years and months, devolution has once again proved that it is far from perfect, which is fine. Parliament itself is still reforming and improving and that is the product of over three centuries of work (British Parliament, not English).
We need to cast the same objective eye over the devolved Parliaments. This would serve to not only help to strengthen public debate and policy making, but also the Union itself as people become more comfortable (and confident) about which decisions are being made at each level of government.
The SNP will shout and complain but, in honesty, most people know it is crying wolf, for in a separated Scotland the last thing on the SNP's mind will be any devolution downwards.
Luke Graham is the former head of Union Unit at Number 10 under Boris Johnson
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