POLITICS is supposed to take a back seat at this time of year when family and friends take centre stage and we have a rest from the stresses and strain of everyday life and enjoy a bit of relaxation.

Not so easy this year if you’re a Kaiam worker in Livingston who is facing a penniless festive season and jobless New Year on the whim of a Californian tycoon. Or for the 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK staring into abyss of no-deal Brexit with no guarantees for their future. Or for the 170,000 UK families living in destitution as homelessness soars to record levels as a result of Tory welfare reform and Universal Credit.

I am always amazed when I hear people complain that politics is divisive. Of course, it is. That’s because our society is divided. There is no reconciling the politics of the Little Englanders and racists who dominate the Brexit movement with those of us who are outward-looking internationalists.

The division between British Unionists and those who believe Scotland is capable of running or taking its own decisions has generated heat and passion.

Yes, some people on both sides get carried away and go over the top, but I think it’s great that the talk in the pubs and coffee shops these days is just as likely to be about the future of our country as it is to be about the result of Strictly Come Dancing or the battle at the top of the Scottish Premiership – although anyone who imagines the stark gulf between wealth and poverty will be resolved by a polite chat over tea and biscuits is living in a dream world.

Politics will always involve a bit of rough and rumble and that’s how it should be. We need parties to stand up for what they believe in and represent to the best of their abilities the people who vote for them. Without a degree of conflict, the status quo would prevail for all eternity and society would be frozen in a new ice age.

Like every other ruling administration, the Scottish Government cannot be above criticism. Opposition politicians and campaigners are perfectly entitled to raise their voices in disapproval of policies they disagree with. But no-one pays much attention to the wee yapping dog that’s always barking. It becomes meaningless background noise. And when Scotland’s two main opposition parties respond to every Scottish Government statement with mechanical condemnation people just switch off.

READ MORE: SNP councillors hit out at ‘politicised’ equal pay strike in Glasgow

This weekend, we had a classic example of petty point scoring masquerading as politics, courtesy of Adam Tomkins, a Glasgow Tory MSP, who first appeared on my radar on October 9, 2004.

I remember the exact date because he was one of the keynote speakers at a rally on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill organised by the Scottish Socialist Party as a radical alternative to the official opening of the new Parliament that same day.

The rally was based around a declaration which called for “an independent Scottish republic based on the principles of liberty, equality, diversity and solidarity”. It stated that “these principles can never be put into practice while Scotland remains subordinate to the hierarchical and anti-democratic institutions of the British state”.

Among other things, it vowed to “banish nuclear weapons of mass destruction from our land, turn our de-populated land into a haven for those fleeing famine and persecution, and build a more equal society, free of poverty, through the redistribution of our vast wealth”.

The National:

Adam Tomkins has undergone a remarkable political transformation

Mr Tomkins’s appearance at the event was no bout of teenage rebellion. He was 35 at the time and a high-flying professor of law at Glasgow University. People do change their political allegiances. Many have shifted from Labour to the SNP over these past years, and others have moved from Labour to the Tories.

But Adam’s political mutation has been truly mind-boggling. When details emerged at the weekend of a plan by SNP-led Glasgow City Council to bring to an end the 15-year disgrace that has denied justice to low-paid working women who for years were robbed of a big chunk of their earnings, who was first to condemn the proposal out of hand? Step forward Adam Tomkins.

It’s maybe too much to expect politicians to congratulate their opponents when they do something right, but sometimes they’d be best just keeping their mouth shut rather than criticising. And if the council’s plan to secure a loan against high value assets is what it takes to settle this historic injustice then so be it.

According to Adam Tomkins, the Scottish Government should have bailed out Glasgow City Council.

A brazen suggestion from a politician who just a few weeks ago voted for the Scottish Government to reduce its spending in order to give tax handouts to high earners. He was notably silent on specifying which public services should be cut by the order of half a billion pounds.

READ MORE: Female Glasgow City Council workers' equal pay fight is about justice, not Unionism

As I write this, Labour have so far failed to make any comment. And if they have nothing constructive to offer, a period of silence on this issue from Richard Leonard’s party would probably be a wise move. Back in June 2005, a GMB trade union negotiator expressed his frustration at the failure of councils – most of them Labour-led – to make any progress: “All we have had is delay, delay, delay. Our patience is running out and it is time to deliver, deliver, deliver on equal pay.”

Twelve years later, Labour were still in power in Glasgow. They had failed to deliver, deliver, deliver and they were now fighting their exploited low-paid female workforce in the courts. That shameful episode of complicity in discrimination only ended when Labour was removed from power in Glasgow by the electorate last year.

I’ve no party-political axe to grind here. A month or so back I was disappointed by the response of some SNP activists after I expressed whole-hearted support for the equal pay strike in Glasgow. Yes, the leader of the council was already working behind the scenes on a solution. But sometimes even those who are sympathetic need to be put under pressure to bring home the burning urgency of the problem.

Thankfully, after many years, there does seem to be some light of the tunnel. I’m confident Susan Aitken and her colleagues will now deliver. And, hopefully, Labour and the trade unions will put party political rivalry aside and work constructively with the council to make sure this happens as speedily as possible.

An apology from Labour to the women who have waited so long for justice, and the council tax-payers of the city for extra debts they have been burned with after years of obstruction wouldn’t go amiss either.

Finally, season’s greetings to all readers of this column – I’m sure there must be at least a dozen of you out there!