As the Guardian has reported:
Jackson Carlaw has resigned suddenly as the Scottish Conservative leader, claiming he is not the right person to lead his party into the forthcoming Holyrood elections.
Hours after a combative session at first minister’s questions, Carlaw issued a statement saying he had reached the “simple if painful conclusion” over the past few weeks that the Scottish Conservatives needed a new and better leader.
By this morning this does not even make headline news in the Guardian’s Scotland section, which is saying something, but I think there is a significance to this that could be overlooked.
It’s hard not to relate this to four recent stories.
The first is Johnson’s recent, panicked, visit to Scotland. He has seen now how bad things are for Unionists in Scotland.
The second is, then, the relentless rise of the Independence movement in Scotland.
The third is Johnson’s own poor performance when compared to Nicola Sturgeon on coronavirus.
And fourth, there is the sheer hypocrisy of Johnson’s approach when appealing for Union in Scotland whilst opposing it as irrational with the EU using the mirror image of the arguments in each case.
My suspicion is that Carlaw did not go. I am sure he was pushed. And that Johnson did the pushing. There is, though, a problem for Johnson, and that is that the possible replacements for a person selected only a few months ago are even worse.
Try as he might, Johnson can not avoid the fact that Tory reaction to two referenda has killed the Union. The first was the 2014 independence referendum. Cameron chose to rub Scottish noses in his victory the morning after winning. It has not been forgotten.
And then there was Brexit when every promise Unionists made in 2014 was broken by the Leave campaign. That too has not been forgotten.
Add in Johnson’s incompetence and the mix is potent.
Johnson clearly thinks he can control this with a new leader. He is very wrong. He is the problem now. Unless he proposes to do a Trump and ignore democratic mandates (and he might, but with unknowable consequences) he will have to face a seemingly unstoppable demand for independence next year.
And the fact that awareness of modern money, which liberates the ability to meet demand for reform with government action, and awareness that so-called national debt is not a burden are both growing, helps this change.
Johnson is scared. That’s why Carlaw has gone. But Johnson has no answers. And Scotland is waiting, but not for long. When the Tories are beginning to indicate that they know the Union is dead change is really in the air.