I THOUGHT long and hard this week about whether to draw attention or not to an article written by the publicity-hungry Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.

He’s featured in my column before, for his ignorance on the Irish border question in terms of Brexit and his counterfactual assertion that the Good Friday Agreement had been a failure. This time, he’s turned his attention to Scotland and pretty much repeated this ignorance with a series of bizarre tabloid style attacks.

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Hannan strikes me as the kind of politician who likes to stir it up and watch the fallout from his temporary lofty tower in Brussels. He has in the past praised certain aspects of Enoch Powell’s political life, suggested that Ukip form a coalition government with the Conservatives back in 2012 and stated that the NHS is only supported by “hardline leftists”. As an MEP, he has used his position on the inside to publicly criticise the EU, which is no surprise really given he was the first director of the secretive anti-EU European Research Group back in 1993.

Now, much as I don’t want to give Hannan too much of the attention he so obviously craves, I can’t let him away with his attacks on Scotland in an American paper, the Washington Examiner in this case, in an attempt to tarnish our reputation across the pond.

In a recent article for this Conservative American newspaper, Hannan argues that “Scottish Nationalists are making their countrymen less independent by the day” with the Scottish Government acting as a “nanny” state. No prizes for guessing his agenda, right? It’s a huge inconvenience for the likes of Hannan with his hard Brexit stance to have a free-thinking, devolved government in Scotland that takes a different approach from Westminster on just about every aspect of governance in its power.

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In the article, Hannan wonders how “Adam Smith’s homeland [came] to elect the most intrusive and nannying government in Europe”, and blames the SNP for defining Scottish identity in leftist terms.

Where has Hannan been? The Tories haven’t had a look in at Holyrood government since it was established in 1999. The Scots have consistently voted in left-leaning devolved governments – it started with Labour and when that didn’t work out the voters turned to the SNP, who have been in government in Holyrood for more than 10 years. Even before devolution and since then, Scotland consistently votes for left-wing political parties at Westminster.

But Hannan’s main target is not just the Scottish Government, it’s the SNP, “the party [that] likes to think of itself as the voice of working-class Scots: miners and steelworkers and crofters”.

It makes me wonder if Hannan has ever read a history book? His party under Thatcher destroyed the mining and steel industry in Scotland and, over the centuries before during the clearances, banished many of the crofters to live in countries thousands of miles from home in order to graze sheep on their land instead. Thanks to the political forebears of Hannan there are more crofter descendants making America prosperous than those still making Scotland flourish.

Whatever Scottish book Hannan has ever collided with it most certainly was not Adam Smith’s masterpiece The Wealth of Nations or if so, it was the Penguin edition! Even more so it was not Smith’s earlier and companion book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which Smith lays out the social basis for the science of economics.

Hannan’s main objection in the article is that Scotland is doing its best to support and improve the health of its people, contrary to his own party’s ethos of “get on your bike”.

He describes the new ruling on minimum pricing on alcohol as a “tax on the poor”, with the SNP exhibiting “snobbery” and “disapproval” about the lifestyles of the disadvantaged. In Hannan’s world, there’s no room for positive structures of support to help people pull themselves out of alcoholism, or indeed obesity.

Scotland, on the other hand, sees the health of its people in quite a different way – tackling issues with drink and junk food, or “poor people’s food” as Hannan calls it, is all part of the process of making a fairer and more equal society.

It’s here he makes his mistake on a reserved v devolved issue, blaming Holyrood for a tax on sugar when it was his old party mucker former Chancellor George Osborne who actually introduced the new sugar tax on soft drinks. The ultimate Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru, or as Hannan says, “poor people’s drink”, was merely following Westminster instructions when they reduced the sugar in their pop.

He goes on to list a series of bans introduced at Holyrood, such as smoking and smacking, turning his attention to the Scottish Government’s attempts to tackle sectarian violence and abuse and even mentions the infamous and rather pathetic Nazi pug incident.

No matter how much he attempts to detract from Holyrood’s successes with low-brow jibes, the truth is that Scotland is a modern, forward-looking country, doing its best to create a better, more equal, inclusive and sustainable society. We have the fairest tax system in the whole of the UK, we welcome newcomers with the talents they bring to our country, we’ve introduced a new social security system with dignity and fairness at its core and we’re investing hugely in renewable power.

It’s the antithesis of the UK Government which targets the poor and the vulnerable with austerity measures, employ a deliberatly racist immigration system, turn a blind eye to tax loopholes to protect the wealthy and draw up copy-cat environmental legislation.

Finally, Hannan’s use of Scottish colloquialisms such as “awa’ an’ bile yer heid” is embarrassing to the point of cringeworthy and reveals his lack of understanding of Scottish culture, rather like a parent trying to be cool around their teenage children’s friends. He even refers to Braveheart and Trainspotting in his article, as well as misspelling whisky with an “e”, a rooky error even for an American readership. This is of course the ultimate sin, confusing Scotch with its inferior international rivals and suggests that Hannan did not learn enough at his Scottish mother’s knee.

I’m surprised he didn’t throw in a “See You Jimmy Hat’ and the Loch Ness monster while he was at it. His article is a bundle of cliches and generalisations, bent to fit his lifelong obsession – leaving the EU. But then, that’s all Brexiteers like Hannan have got. When the facts don’t fit your ideal, when the truth hurts, politicians such as Hannan fall back on sentiment, nostalgia and myth. Its all they’ve got left of their Brexit dream and the unsavoury remnants are the stuff of our living nightmare.