ALISON Thewliss isn’t a firebrand orator – but for my money, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central is one of the best Scottish politicians to find her way into Westminster in recent years.

Why? Because from her earliest days in the London, she has shown a series of virtues all too rare in our parliamentarians – intelligence, a strategic eye, a sense of purpose and, above all, a practical agenda.

In Scottish politics, critics slam. They vow and they condemn. They blast and hit out and snub. Our angry political vocabulary is full of words you rarely hear in real life.

I’m not above a little political invective myself, when circumstances warrant it. But our theme for today is something our conflict-and-division addicted political commentary rarely addresses: A Hymn of Praise to a Quietly Conscientious Politician with Some Clue About Actual Things In the Real World They’d Like to Achieve.

In 2015, it was Alison Thewliss who immediately winkled out the small print in George Osborne’s social security-slashing summer Budget, spotting the implications of the two-child cap and the now notorious “rape clause” for women in receipt of child tax credit.

It was Thewliss who led the charge on period poverty in the Commons. And now? Now she’s attempting to do something practical about the quiet crisis among intravenous drug users in her constituency. And she’s doing so with considerable mettle.

The public health statistics from central Glasgow are a remorseless butcher’s bill. There were 867 drugs deaths in Scotland in 2016, an increase of 23% from the previous year. Of these men and women, 257 reached the end of their lives in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which houses an estimated 13,600 problem drug users. Local research suggests there are around 500 people injecting drugs in public places in the city centre on a regular basis.

“Public places” is a euphemism. We’re talking about concrete bin sheds, corners of wasteland, behind bushes, under railway bridges – anywhere affording a modicum of privacy and the snatched seconds needed to drive a needle into your body and the drug into your bloodstream.

This intravenous drug use has been accompanied by a still ongoing outbreak of blood-borne viruses in the city and it leaves behind it a jagged garden of discarded needles.

So what is to be done? Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership has come up with a plan. Its proposal? Open safer drug consumption facilities of the kind used in Denmark and Australia.

These are often characterised as hit rooms in the media, as fix rooms, or shooting galleries, but the basic idea is simple. They are publicly-funded spaces where illicit drugs could be injected in a controlled environment, supported by trained staff, with sterile injecting equipment to decrease the likelihood of transmission of blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis C and HIV.

It is a measure in harm reduction, framing drug use as a public health problem, rather than business for the criminal courts. “Taking away the chaos” – that’s the watchword.

So what’s the problem? It has emerged that staff at the facility would be at risk of prosecution under drug laws. Couldn’t Scottish Ministers just ask their top law officer, the Lord Advocate to tell prosecutors to ease off? Direct the police to leave the proposed consumption facility and its staff and punters undisturbed for the greater good? Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. The Misuse of Drugs Act is a reserved matter. Holyrood can’t tinker with it, even to introduce desperately-needed, pragmatic public health measures.

And the offences created by the 1971 Act are many. Production of controlled substances snares you, but so, too, does possessing them or being concerned with their supply. The Act goes further. Under Section 8, managers and occupiers can be jailed if they “knowingly permit or suffer” the production, supply or preparation of controlled substances on their premises.

Under the strict letter of the law, safe room punters and staff would both be at risk of arrest and prosecution, and in December last year, Scotland’s chief public prosecutor confirmed he couldn’t turn a blind eye. He couldn’t give the police blanket instructions to steer clear.

So the focus now turns to the Home Office. Can the UK Government be moved? Thewliss put the central point to the House of Commons last month: “Glasgow has a plan that could reduce drug-related nuisance to residents, reduce harm to drug users and save lives, so will the UK Government let Glasgow get on with the job?”

Thus far, the Home Office’s response has been a tart – “no”. Theresa May’s parliamentary under-secretary at the Home Office, Victoria Atkins, told MPs the UK Government has “no intention of introducing drug consumption rooms, nor do we have any intention of devolving the United Kingdom policy on drug classification and the way in which we deal with prohibited drugs to Scotland”.

Listening to Atkins, you’d imagine Glasgow City Council’s plan was to open a string of opium dens from Anniesland to Baillieston, declaring happy valley for intravenous drugs users on the Clyde. The profound lack of moral and intellectual seriousness which characterises the minister’s reaction drips from the page.

Proponents of this necessary scheme deserve real credit. Sometimes change must be massive and structural. Sometimes justice demands upturning the whole apple cart. But more often than not, justice is realised and injustice perpetrated in what Eleanor Roosevelt described as “small places, close to home”. Places, she said: “So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.”

In her modest, purposeful way – without a wisp of vanity or bombast or unseemly scrabbling after credit – Alison Thewliss is doing the hard thinking about what justice really means under bridges in Dennistoun and in dingy closes in the Calton, in playgrounds and on waste ground and in flyblown ATOS assessment rooms. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t grand. But these efforts couldn’t be further away from cheap lines – too familiar to Scotland – that make politics a sideshow a world away from everyday life.

Thewliss and her allies, along with the NHS and the city council persevere, and all power to them. In a political era too often dominated by the loudmouth and the showman, the shouty generalist, the party hack and the opinionated doughball – when many parliamentarians’ highest aspiration seems to be to serve as the Mouth of Sauron – Thewliss’ unpretentious industry is a breath of fresh air.