SO Theresa May is heading for the centre-ground – but the centre ground of what? The Tory leader did not bother to specify. Clearly though, it matters. Big-time.

As London-based political parties and commentators never fail to forget, there is no single nation in the UK – there are four. There has probably been no single, default “national outlook” since the Treaty of Union was signed three centuries back – just a weary acceptance within outnumbered Scotland that there was little point arguing.

But north of the Border there’s been a quiet centuries-long awareness that Scots have a different way of doing things, a different set of institutions and voting patterns, a different attitude to the place of the market in society – indeed a stubborn belief there is such a thing as society – despite Mrs T.

Scots have long had a different conception of left and right wing and therefore a totally different idea about what constitutes the middle ground. Until the vote to establish the Scottish Parliament we just didn’t know if that distinctive political outlook mattered enough to shout about. It does. And – after indyref1 – it always will.

Even David Cameron recognised this with his “respect” agenda until Holyrood’s social democratic tilt became too darned ickety to contain within Dave’s deeply marketised Britain. We know Scotland and England have been two ships drifting in opposite directions for decades. Crosswinds now drive us further apart and they blow straight from the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham – an event which will be remembered as the time and place indyref2 became a dead cert. It was the conference in which every phrase uttered by Theresa May contained near unbearable volumes of hypocrisy and doublespeak.

First came her Odysseus-like quest for the centre ground of that mythical tribe called the Britons – Scots know fine well that the Tory leader could no more hit the centre ground of Scottish politics than the former Chancellor Osborne could count on a warm welcome anywhere outside the City of London.

Second came the breath-taking claim that she’d “never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union.” I suppose you have to cut Theresa some slack – she was trying to distract the party faithful from the falling pound and the prospect of financial turmoil ahead as more banks quit a Brexiting London. And, of course, the woman renowned for her kitten heels had to appear more bullish than her warm-up act and possible successor, Ruth Davidson. But putting the blame on the SNP for breaking up Britain – purlease.

If any UK government since the First World War had possessed the courage to follow through with home rule, the current head of steam over long denied differences might have failed to develop.

If any UK government since devolution had taken Scottish opinion seriously and not for granted, lifelong supporters of independence would not have been joined by tens of thousands despairing of a rational redistribution of power within the United Kingdom.

If Theresa May means to deny Scots a second independence referendum no matter what unwanted change and catastrophe her government’s cack-handed handling of the European referendum visits upon this northern nation of Euro-philes, she is stoking up a fight she cannot ultimately win.

But friends, there was more.

She talked also of the “quiet revolution” of the Brexit vote – ah the exquisite irony. The revolution for her was being on the wrong side yet managing to snatch the Tories top job. The revolution for England was voting to re-establish its fond fantasy of “splendid isolation” instead of just talking about it endlessly.

The revelation for Scotland was discovering we held firm to the ideal of a larger European identity and could resist the xenophobic, scaremongering, suspicious and occasionally hateful tones of Brexiteers.

As for Theresa’s claim that “only the Tories will stand up for the weak... stand up to the powerful,” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I doubt if even voters who backed Ruth Davidson in May find any real resonance in those hollow words.

As Home Secretary, Theresa May’s policies have split up an estimated 33,000 families because they didn’t earn enough, she refused to time limit the detention of asylum applicants and she refused to take part in any EU relocation or resettlement scheme. More than that – Theresa May is likely to go into the next election pledged to withdraw Britain from the European convention on human rights – making us the only European country in the same position as the pariah state of Belarus.

Nasty. Very nasty, no matter what support the new Tory leader has given to specific causes.

And of course, there’s the latest – Theresa May’s Tories are now peddling myths about foreigners taking British people’s jobs to justify a shameful new immigration crackdown. Under the plans, outlined by her Home Secretary Amber Rudd, firms employing from abroad might be forced to somehow “ensure” that foreign workers don’t take jobs “British people could do”.

It is racist, counter-productive and unnecessary – even business groups are outraged.

All of this will make many No voters very uncomfortable. Because there’s no disguising the fact that Ruth Davidson, Theresa May and the Conservative Party – not Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Labour – are now the face of the Union.

This week laid bare the gut instinct of Theresa May’s Tory Party – and it’s nasty, nasty, nasty.

Scots who dislike this right-wing agenda now know everything they need to know. Despite all the promises and talks, the warm words and panicked journeys north – Scotland is out of sight and out of mind again. And Theresa is ultimately playing into Nicola Sturgeon’s capable hands.