LET’S get real here. The risible Alister Jack, a walking anachronism if ever there was one, has actually just removed another brick from a devolution wall which has been systematically dismantled by an assortment of his colleagues.

He’s not the chief operating officer of the “nuclear option”, or anything much else, so much as the latest minister to give the Scottish Parliament a two-fingered salute. And not a Churchillian one either.

When the first Scotland Act came into being, it proposed a simple rule – defence, foreign affairs and macroeconomics would be reserved to Westminster and anything not reserved was deemed devolved.

It contained what came to be known as the Sewel Convention – if London wanted to pass any legislation in devolved areas it had to consult the devolved administrations. In turn, we had to pass a legislative consent motion, giving the Prime Minister a green light to proceed.

Fast forward to the Smith Commission which reported back after the 2014 referendum. Among its recommendations was that the Scottish Parliament and government would have permanent status. It was also mooted that Sewel would shift from a convention to a legally binding instrument.

Thus along came the mark II Scotland Act of 2016, which fans of devolution insisted would festoon Holyrood with all manner of new powers. Cue the indefatigable Gordon Brown advising us that this would be near as dammit Home Rule and would be ours in but a couple of years. You may pause here to insert hollow laughter.

The advent of the Brexit for which we didn’t vote was when the rot really set in. When Holyrood tried to ensure that Scotland wouldn’t have to toe the Brexit line, Westminster ruled the move incompetent. It did so again when we endeavoured to embed the European Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scots law. That too was given a red card.

But the real game changer came along with the Internal Market Act, whose principal architect and defender was one Michael Gove, a chap for whom the term sleekit might well have been invented.

Under the guise of creating a level playing field for trade in the UK after leaving the EU, this ploy not only diverted funds once enjoyed by Scotland from the EU kitty to London, but effectively prevented Scotland from having a parliamentary say in areas like standards relating to anything from food to pollution.

It didn’t so much drive the legendary coach and horses through the devolution settlement as emasculate it more or less completely. Adding considerable insult to massive injury, this move also gave London cabinet ministers the authority to bypass Holyrood when disbursing funds to Scotland’s local authority areas – in direct contravention of Sewel and all its works.

Which is how and why the lords bountiful in the UK cabinet have just tossed some of our own taxes around assorted Scottish local authorities. At no point was our allegedly devolved government consulted as to the where and the why of any of it.

But, but, protested London. We only gave to councils which applied for it. Aye right. This is maybe one gift horse whose dental arrangements should have been subjected to a lot more scrutiny. Still and all, you can hardly blame cash-strapped local authorities for raiding any kitty they can.

Down south, it is alleged that many more Conservative councils than Labour-controlled ones have been beneficiaries of this cash cow and that the south east of England got a lot more dosh than the north east. Plus ca change and all that.

In fairness, some northern English regions did get a bung. The one which encompasses the current Prime Minister’s constituency for an instance. A complete coincidence nae doot.

During the PM’s state visit to Scotland, he made much of the investment in two new freeports, evidence he insisted of the myriad benefits of both governments working in tandem for the greater Scottish good.

I have no enthusiasm for the freeport experiment “green” or otherwise, but that’s for another day. What really rankles is this imposition being billed as a victory for cooperation after these many years when the Scottish Government could barely count on Westminster for the time of day let alone anything vaguely resembling a consultation.

This latest brouhaha over the Gender Recognition Reform legislation finds me in an odd position. As previous columns have indicated, there were areas in this legislation about which I had serious doubts – though none at all over the need to make the life of trans people less subject to intrusion and inessential interventions.

Yet the thought of the ludicrous Jack over-riding something which was passed in Holyrood with a handsome majority is self-evidently a total slap in the face to our already battered parliament.

In typically arrogant fashion, when asked what amendments would make this law acceptable, he said that wasn’t a matter for him, but for Holyrood.

Irony on stilts here. The legislation can’t be passed without being amended, but please don’t ask him which amendments might do the business. Too tricky a question for the hard of thinking.

When then invited to explain himself to the Holyrood committee dealing with equalities he intoned that he’s not about equality, he’s about the constitution. Pomposity in inverse ratio to relevance seems to be his modus operandi.

So now the committee dealing with matters constitutional has invited him too. Maybe he’ll be washing his hair that day.

There were always Tories for whom the creation of a national parliament was seen as a personal affront. Though that didn’t prevent them from taking seats in it, even though most of the Conservative incumbents couldn’t manage to win constituency approval, and relied on their party putting them far enough up the list to ensure election.

(The parties controlling the lists and who goes where on them is an area overripe for reform in my book. Too often parties use this power to punish alleged dissidents from the party line, whilst favouring those with an Advanced Higher in obsequiousness.) Who really wants an MSP so devoid of backbone that they’re feart to disagree with the hierarchy? And who really wants a hierarchy that finds virtue in unquestioning loyalty?

THERE are Labour types too who seem to have forgotten that it was a push from their party in the teeth of opposition from London that got the first parliament over the line.

Now when there is a genuine disagreement over the move to kill a Holyrood bill, the Scottish Labour leader spends two days in a funk rather than disagree with his boss, whilst the solitary Labour MP instantly lines up behind Sir Keir lest his shadow Scottish Secretary jaiket finds itself on a shoogly peg.

It took Monica Lennon and shadow social justice and social security minister Pam Duncan-Glancy to come out and say they thought using Section 35 was entirely the wrong approach. Trust they’re saying the same to Anas Sarwar. Both women and I disagree about much, but they’ve got guts and Pam is a bonny fechter for disabled rights.

The Tories, of course, applauded the Section 35 device. Some of them were very hostile to much in the GRR bill, so that’s not this week’s surprise package. But a couple of them helped vote the bill through and that too took guts. There are a whole number of sensitive areas – assisted death, abortion laws, and trans rights which seem to me obvious candidates for free votes of conscience in all parties.

In the meantime, it would be heartening if more of our MSPs realised that what is at stake here is the very future of the Chamber in which they sit.

Defend Holyrood’s remaining powers or lose what few it has left.