PREVIOUS leading Conservative politicians have uttered inspirational phrases like Churchill’s “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”, or Harold MacMillan’s “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts”.

Then there were the wise words of Stanley Baldwin who said: “War would end if the dead could return.”

Now to that illustrious canon we’ve got the words of Conservative Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson telling Vladimir Putin: “Go away and shut up.” Yer maw. Nyah nyah nyah. So there. Perhaps Gavin would do a lot better if he heeded the words of another Conservative politician, Benjamin Disraeli, who said: “If you are not very clever you should be conciliatory.”

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There is precious little in the way of wisdom or conciliation in the Conservative Party these days. The wise way to stand up to Vladimir Putin would to be conciliatory with the UK’s friends and allies, instead of being hell-bent on alienating them in the ideological pursuit of a hard Brexit. Where the UK was inside the EU with a lot of opt-outs, now the Tories want the UK to be outside the EU with a lot of opt-ins. This is not how you go about making friends and influencing people, particularly not when your party has accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from Russian oligarchs and one of its main motivations for pursuing a hard Brexit is so that the City of London can continue its traditional role as a money laundromat for Russian kleptocrats.

Lithuania knows a thing or two about Russian aggression. Conquered by the tsars in the 18th century, the country regained its independence after the First World War only to be invaded and conquered again by Moscow during the Second World War.

On once again regaining its independence, one of the first acts of the Lithuanian government was to seek membership of the EU. We all need friends in order to stand up to bullies. So perhaps we should listen to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius who said this week that Russia sees the UK as being isolated as it makes ready to leave the EU, and believes that the Salisbury nerve-gas attack was due to the Kremlin testing a UK which has been debilitated by Brexit.

That weakness, inflicted on the country by a Conservative Party which has taken hundreds of thousands in donations from Russian oligarchs, has emboldened the Kremlin. Linas Linkevicius suggested that the UK follow his country’s lead, and introduce an Act to target the money and real estate of Russian oligarchs with links to the Kremlin. If the Conservatives really wanted to target the Kremlin, they could take action to close down the money laundering in the City of London. There’s no sign that the Tories are going to do that. It might affect their donations.

But never mind the squillions that the Russians are giving to the Conservatives, the Scottish media remains obsessed with Thatalicsammin’s telly show on RT, a channel that not very many people tune into.

The actions of a former politician are far more important and interesting to the British nationalist media in Scotland than the actions of the party governing the UK whose actions have weakened the UK, leaving it open to Russian attacks and which seeks to undermine the power of Holyrood and the devolution settlement while it rakes in cash from Russian oligarchs.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the news story is, the British nationalist media in Scotland will find some angle which allows them to use it to criticise the SNP and attack the cause of independence.

God forbid that we ever discover that Nicola Sturgeon is quite partial to bulgogi, kimchi, and Korean fried noodles or we’ll get wall-to-wall specials in the Scottish press about how the Scottish Government is in the pocket of Kim Jong Un.

I’m struggling to recall the last time that the British nationalist media in Scotland, which is the great majority of the media in Scotland, published a story which was positive for the case for independence.

Despite the constant and increasingly hysterical barrage of anti-independence propaganda and SNPbaddery which passes for the news agenda in Scotland, despite the fact that the media resolutely avoids drawing a link between political and economic damage caused by Brexit and the democratic deficit that can only be tackled with independence, an opinion poll this week showed that 48 per cent of the people of Scotland support independence. Given that most opinion polls have a three per cent margin of error, that means a statistical tie.

Half the population of Scotland wants independence, but we don’t have anything like half the media putting our case across. The Scottish media doesn’t hold up a mirror to Scottish society, it distorts and misrepresents, it spins every story into an attack on independence while blithely ignoring real issues like the financial links between the Conservatives and Russian oligarchs.

The fact that this country lacks a media which is broadly representative of the society it is supposed to reflect is a far bigger threat to Scottish democracy than any Russian fake news broadcast on RT. Increasingly, the people of Scotland are telling it to shut up and go away.