THE Queen’s Speech opened several sackfuls of Christmas surprises. They were enough, so Boris Johnson assured us, not just for one year of government but for 10, so giving us a clue how long he plans to be Prime Minister.

Boris has many vile qualities – pride, greed, lust, wrath, sloth. That’s five of the Seven Deadly Sins for starters, and probably his misdemeanours will multiply while he occupies No 10 Downing Street. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, even Theresa May started off squeaky clean by comparison, and look where they ended up.

Still, there’s one label that has been stuck on Boris in Scotland during the last few days which to my mind he does not, or not yet, deserve. He is, of course, completely unreliable and it could be this label defines him better than I am at present able to. But I don’t think it really rings true to call him an advocate of austerity, as senior figures in the SNP have been doing. Since he does not believe in anything except Boris, austerity is exactly like every other garb that he may put on or cast off at a moment’s notice.

Look at the Queen’s Speech itself. Fair enough, we can’t put numbers on it, because most of the numbers are yet to be invented by the lickspittle Chancellor, Sajid Javid. But it is hard to believe that, say, the promised extra £34 billion a year for the National Health Service (including the end of those terrible hospital parking charges) can easily be skimped, especially as the targets are themselves to be enshrined in law. Much the same goes for others among the 30 Bills announced in the speech. I do not doubt the brass-necked Boris will drop some as soon as he dares. Even so, enough of them might survive to bring about altogether a real rise in public spending. In which case – where is the austerity?

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It is interesting to see that, over this last weekend since the speech, a completely different narrative is being developed in England. There it is not the complaint of austerity that counts, but what one commentator calls the emergence of “Blue Labour”.

A striking feature of the General Election came with the Tory victories along the northern “red wall” where so many seats had always been Labour. If Boris wants 10 years of power, he needs to tighten his grip on them. It seems clear from vox pops that the voters have not entirely forsaken their traditional values.

In other words, the Prime Minister has to show them they are likely to get more of what they want from him than doddery old Jeremy Corbyn could ever have managed, or his successor for that matter.

Of course, this does not mean from now on copying every detail of Labour’s manifesto. That unconvincing fantasy proved enough to put commonsensical voters off rather than haul them aboard, with its hints of “democratic centralism”, or what we used to call communist dictatorship, just like in Venezuela and Cuba.

In fact the party already contains an internal pressure group called Blue Labour, headed up by academic Lord Maurice Glasman. It sees the main agent of social change not in the big state but in the local community, and so is understanding of attitudes at that level which are normally rejected by metropolitan elites: support for Brexit, dislike of immigration, a hard line on crime.

It also entertains more airy-fairy notions about guild socialism and corporatism, but its hope of switching from the UK’s present bureaucratic juggernaut to local or communal management and provision of services is something many people can share. It may all seem a bit too benevolent for Boris, but perhaps there is something in there for his chief of staff Dominic Cummings to work up as he embarks with relish on his war with Whitehall.

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Funnily enough, there is a counterpart at the opposite end of the UK political spectrum in the term Red Tory. It appears to have been first used by another academic, Phillip Blond, who was close to David Cameron. Probably this body of ideas underlay what Cameron called, more blandly and less clearly, the Big Society.

Blond himself defined it as “communitarian civic conservatism”, transcending both the state control of the post-war consensus and its opposite, the neoliberalism which faced its great crisis in the financial meltdown of 2007-8.

He raged: “Look at the society we have become: we are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry.” And he wrote that 10 years before Brexit. Unfortunately, Cameron allowed himself to be diverted by Brexit from putting flesh on Blond’s ideas.

These ideas are in some ways not so far from Glasman’s, but Blond is more specific in advocating a redistribution of capital, by various means, to the ordinary citizen. In this sense, he retains a conservative faith in the virtues of capitalism as the best means of allocating society’s resources.

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In a more vulgar sense, we also use the term Red Tory in Scotland.

The first reference I can find to it is in Motherwell in 2017, when the polar opposites of Labour and Tories got together to stop the SNP running the local council. A similar alliance has now taken charge in Midlothian.

In Edinburgh, I suppose Red Tory could describe Morningside’s old ladies in white gloves who vote Labour so that Ian Murray MP can keep the Nats out. On the Scottish definition, then, a Red Tory is a person who will do that at any cost to his or her principles. Old ladies can be so wicked.

But these isolated examples remind us how far Scottish politics has already moved from English politics – so far that I judge it impossible for them ever to come together again. In that case, in the short or long run, the two nations are bound to separate, for how can it be sensible to run two separate political systems within one structure? It is surely better for both to go their separate ways.

Needless to say, this is not an argument Boris would be likely to accept as he sits in his pomp at Westminster. In the light of the referendum in 2014, he thinks the present threats to the integrity of the UK can be contained by just ignoring them. The results of the election, for all the advances they brought the SNP, will not have dissuaded him. In votes rather than seats, the 55:45 percentage balance in favour of the Union has not changed.

Perhaps a step forward has come in the moral argument for a second referendum. But what does Boris care for moral arguments? You had better ask the mothers of his children, or the people he made up quotes for in his journalism, or the judges of the Supreme Court he sought to defy.

In other words, to go on about austerity in the face of this grotesque but ebullient apparition seems to me to be missing the mark. Not only because there is unlikely, as a matter of fact, to be that much austerity under Boris, but also because he will busy himself constructing a new consensus round whatever his constituency says it wants.

This consensus may not be to Scottish taste, but we would be foolish to deny its reality and its vigour among our neighbours, even in their futile hankering after lost national pride. If both Labour and the LibDems are finished, as they may well be, Boris will remain as the one dynamic force in English politics.

Of course in Scottish politics we have only a single dynamic force too, in the governing SNP, but for the time being it does not show the imagination or the largesse of Boris’s project. We should not make the mistake of underestimating him.