THE elite of the UK establishment have a number of tunes which they play from time to time to disparage the movement for Scottish independence. The most common (and the most tiresome) is that ideas around self-determination have sewn discord among the unassuming Scottish people. Those who most often deploy this theme insist that during the independence referendum campaign Scotland was convulsed by a wave of beastliness and profound unpleasantness that unsettled the normally placid and gentle Scots.

Initial reports from the front line of Jim Murphy’s ‘100 Streets in 100 Days’ tour of the country were terrifying. On one occasion an egg was thrown at the former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. If someone had thrown a grenade at this event the reaction among Better Together activists and Scottish Labour’s right wing could not have been more outraged.

The most feverish of these siren voices claimed they were left bereft and undermined at accusations they were less than loyal to Scotland because they chose to support the constitutional status quo. Yet many of them have spent the best part of the last four years telling anyone within earshot that Scotland is a nasty and unrefined wee country with a citizenry that is constantly at each other’s throats. At a time when Scotland, in common with all other small countries, was seeking to recover from the 2008 banking crisis by marketing itself through tourism and inward investment many Unionist politicians were doing their utmost to discourage visitors and overseas entrepreneurs. Long after the UK Electoral Commission stated that the independence referendum set the gold standard in political engagement these (mainly Labour) voices have continued to peddle the myth.

Another familiar theme of the UK elite was that espoused by the composer Sir James MacMillan last week. This one suggests that the vile forces of Scottish nationalism are seeking to exert a baleful and wretched type of political control over the arts in Scotland. Sir James is a very fine exponent of his art and follows a long line of great Scots who have made their way in the field of music such as the Sensational Alex Harvey, Nazareth, and AC/DC’s Young brothers. Few can doubt that Sir James is one of several fine Scottish figures in the world of classical music and thoroughly deserves his knighthood.

I’ve always had a lot of time for Sir James who is a thoroughly engaging chap, though some of his social media pronouncements during the referendum campaign were, I thought, slightly ill-advised. Many of us who enjoy his music and who respect his support for the Union simply didn’t recognise the way he occasionally sought to portray the wider independence movement.

In last week’s intervention in The Times he accused the SNP of “turning cultural endeavour into state propaganda”. Using a vivid and eye-catching phraseology he describes some pro-nationalist arts figures as “artsy Stormtroopers” and “cultural MacLenins”. He also referred to a Scottish “culturati” who were “nationalist and socialist – on steroids”. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn he likens to being like a “gesturalist revolutionary”.

Indeed, having read Sir James’s vivid account of life under the Nationalist jackboot I began phoning some of my friends in the artistic community for the purposes of ensuring they hadn’t had the dreaded 2am knock at the door. I imagined some of them being spirited away to a tartan Lubyanka somewhere in Leith where they would be ordered to write state-ist propaganda under the watchful eye of a thin-lipped Rosa McKlebb, her hair scraped back in a bun and hurling Nationalist slogans such as “words are the thin gruel of the bourgeoisie but the people want mince and tatties, och aye…”

The purpose of the article which Sir Tom Devine would later dismiss as “a politically-motivated diatribe” seemed to be to mount a personal attack on Scotland’s Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop. Now Hyslop, being a senior politician of long-standing, may not be to everyone’s liking and will have made several enemies during her long political career. Yet, unlike several of her predecessors in this role she is undeniably a champion of the arts in Scotland, having supported many of the country’s creative endeavours since long before she embarked on her political career. To suggest that she may be sitting at the apex of an implacable Marxist/Leninist/Nationalist/Socialist structure seeking to bend poor and blameless artistic types to her Stalinist will is a little extravagant.

It seems that some on the hard right in Scotland are struggling to come to terms with the Scottish Government’s generosity to Creative Scotland. The agency announced last week how it will spend its budget of £99 million after the SNP opted to make up a £6.6m funding shortfall caused by a reduction in lottery funding. Some irredeemable “artsy stromtroopers” would doubtless be ecstatic that arts funding in economically challenging times is being maintained at such a level. You might even be tempted to conclude that such a level of funding is even “enlightened”: apparently not. According to Sir James and the forces of the right it is the wrong sort of funding because among those who lost out on this year’s funding merry-go-round is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

That’s right, one of the most bloated and over-hyped of Scotland’s cultural extravaganzas has lost a quantum which will hardly affect it. Instead, some 20 or so other organisations which have previously lost out on funding decisions will be given a chance to see what they can do with it. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the new arrivals are Nationalist lickspittles of Sir James’s vivid imagination and all of whom are in terror of the poison-tipped toe-caps of the formidable Hyslop.

I’m even tempted to throw my own creative hat into the SNP’s three-ringed funding circus. My wee opera would be called Qui Regardez Tu? and would be a tale of love and betrayal bridging the cultural and religious divide in modern-day Scotland. The action would take place against the backdrop of Glasgow’s brutal gangland wars between the “Artsy Stormtroopers” and the “Cultural MacLenins” for outright control of the lucrative £99m Scottish arts trade. It would be a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, non-binary romp through the hallowed vestibules of Scotland’s savage and treacherous artistic hinterlands. Obviously, I’d get Sir James to collaborate on it and maybe even get him to do his conducting on the opening night.