It is understandable if, when witnessing the sudden and unexpected collapse of a building, your immediate concern is not for the structural integrity of the rest of the street.
This is human nature – an inclination to focus on the phenomenal and the present, the actual drama rather than the possible drama.
This reality is equally true in politics. The abject implosion of the SNP, amid a cloud of asbestos and jungle of jagged iron, has diverted attention away from the major structural issues facing another of Scotland’s main parties: the Scottish Conservatives.
Having become accustomed to its role as Scotland’s second party, it has now been pushed firmly back into third place by a rapidly rebuilding Labour Party – and the reasons for this restructure are clear.
Problems facing Conservatives in Scotland
The first problem is the loss of Ruth Davidson.
Charismatic, courageous and competent, she brought a new dynamic to party that is often seen as stayed and sterile.
Through intelligence and guile – but as often sheer brute force – she dragged the Scottish Conservatives into the devolution era and helped mould them into a modern, forward-looking movement.
The second problem is that the Labour Party seems to have finally got its act together.
In the binary dynamic of independence versus union politics, the Scottish Conservative Party and Labour Party were always going to be fishing in largely the same pond.
But at the same time as Davidson made the Scottish Conservatives credible, the Labour Party collapsed into confusion and disarray, particularly on the constitution.
The ascension of Anas Sarwar and Sir Keir Starmer – both robust in their opposition to the SNP and independence – has shifted this dynamic.
Scottish independence issues
The third – and most important – problem for the Scottish Conservatives is that independence is finished as an issue.
The Tories have always been the most vocal anti-Nationalists, but have also been in a self-sustaining symbiosis with them.
The electoral success of both has largely been predicated on having the other to oppose.
With the prospect of a second referendum – let alone independence – a dead issue, the Scottish Conservative’s greatest recruiting sergeant has also passed away.
Douglas Ross – Davidson’s successor as Scottish Conservative leader once removed – therefore faces a series of significant structural challenges with no obvious solutions.
Certainly, it is clear that if Ross is to change his trajectory, the Scottish Conservatives need not just a rebrand but a reinvention. There is no shame in this.
On the contrary, it can often presage great victories, although even the most optimistic Scottish Conservative supporter would surely concede emulating New Labour in 1997 is out of reach.
But it has been apparent now for many years – if not since the advent of devolution itself – that Scotland sorely lacks a credible lower tax, pro-public sector reform party that can challenge the often lazy Holyrood tax-and-spend consensus.
Will reinvention be enough?
The problem for the Scottish Conservatives is that – to take such a position forward credibly – it would have to include public spending cuts, or the scrapping of universal benefits, or both, in order to save money elsewhere.
Yet, while for many years such a position might have been electorally tricky, there is evidence that is changing.
Satisfaction with public services is plummeting, while the tax burden is set to increase yet further. In modern Scotland you are paying more and more and getting less and less.
Given the structural challenges facing the Scottish Conservatives, it is doubtful whether such a reinvention will be enough to protect their current position as Scotland’s second party.
But it might be enough to stop them suffering a total rout and, at the very least, keep them relevant. In the current circumstances, that may be the best Ross and the Scottish Conservatives can hope for.
‘Remind residents of Dundee’s seafaring past’
One of the latest fads in the world of business is the so-called unicorn company – a privately-owned, start-up business worth more than $1billion.
There are currently almost 50 such companies in the UK, and governments in both Westminster and Edinburgh are determined to encourage more.
That is an eminently sensible aspiration, but I was more than a little pleased to see another unicorn – in this instance, of the HMS variety – in the news recently.
While it may be an investment of millions rather than billions, the National Heritage Memorial Fund donation will help preserve and restore one of Dundee’s – and Scotland’s – most valuable maritime treasures.
As a former resident of Dundee’s City Quay, I have a particular affinity with HMS Unicorn.
Not only is it an interesting and unique attraction but it also helped place a modern redevelopment in its historical context, reminding residents of Dundee’s seafaring past.
That is why the city owes a great debt to the Unicorn Preservation Society and all those who have campaigned to protect the ship and develop it as an attraction.
With the V&A, Dundee has already built its reputation for design.
But with RRS Discovery and now HMS Unicorn, it can build a reputation for maritime heritage as well.