IN the 1970s the late and very great Argyll-based novelist Robin Jenkins published a volume of short stories called A Far Cry From Bowmore. The title tale is an extraordinary and moving account of love and Scottish roots set in the Asian jungle which concludes that listening to others and empathising with them is, in the end, what makes or breaks us as human beings.

I thought of it last week when confronted with two very different examples of those who haven’t been listening.

If Boris Johnson had refused to have anything to do with a sleight of hand prorogation of Parliament then he wouldn’t have started his (likely short) career as Prime Minister in a worse way than any of his predecessors. It was not as if Johnson wasn’t told. Not only was almost all the political commentary scathing about such a step well in advance of it, but in the Tory leadership contest most of his fellow candidates were horrified by the idea, although not so horrified that they did anything when it actually happened.

No doubt it seemed a wizard Cummings wheeze at the time – a stark, intimidating and very visible expression of how the new masters intended to have everything their own way. But it badly misfired and that has contributed to a historic and very damaging split in the Tory party, the unifying of the opposition and a succession of Government defeats.

It also left Johnson looking as powerless as his predecessor, not least because he has also taken to her habit of standing behind a podium even if he has nothing to say.

If Johnson was given to the human emotion of regret he would surely now be rueing the day he listened to the zealot Cummings rather than more experienced and better informed commentators, academics, politicians and civil servants.

The second example is closer to Bowmore. On Wednesday, the chief executive of Argyll & Bute Council did the right thing and publicly apologised to the communities of Mull and Iona for imposing a Traffic Regulating Order which (though he avoided using the precise words) was illegally obtained. For many months the two islands have made increasingly impassioned representations to the council about the very flawed parking proposals which the council intended to impose.

They asked the council to undertake an islands impact assessment as required by the new Scottish Government Islands Act, but the council wriggled out of that obligation.

They wanted consideration to be given to the special needs of Iona on which most vehicles are not permitted, which means that tourists and residents alike leave cars at Fionnphort on Mull. Even though the council’s plans would have cost locals and visitors more than £50 a week, the council said it didn’t have to take any heed of Iona’s objections.

And there was a desire for recognition of the problems that would be created for islanders who – as generations before them have done – left their cars at Craignure ferry pier when going to medical appointments or for other business in Oban. The council pretended it was listening but did nothing.

Finally, in June, the council made some small cosmetic changes and then rammed the scheme through at a meeting of the Oban and Lorne Area Committee at which local people were not allowed to make final representations.

But the communities went on fighting. They got lawyers in place, started a crowdfunder and refused to be intimidated by the council’s usual tactic of relying on the deep pockets of the local taxpayer to see off any court challenge.

This week the council was forced by the near certainty of legal defeat to abandon the order and admit that the communities have been put through a great deal of completely unnecessary angst and suffering.

This could all have been avoided if the council had just listened at the start, and particularly if the majority of the Oban and Lorne councillors had trusted their constituents rather than their officials.

There needs to be a full inquiry into why this happened and there are a range of questions that must be answered. But the council must also change its culture so that it respects and is sensitive to community opinion, rather than disregarding it because management always knows best.

The chamber of the House of Commons is a far cry from Craignure, but the lesson from both places this week is the same. Pay heed to people who know what they are talking about. Respect those you are meant to serve. And never take anyone for granted.