AS I write this column in my bedroom in central London, an explosion of noise just shook the windows and the building. I feared the worst but thankfully it was only thunder. It was like the heavens were sending a message to the governing classes a few hundred yards away in Westminster. The end of days.

I am fearful though because the descent of Britain’s society and standing in the world has progressed from risible and pathetic to palpably dangerous. The stakes are soaring.

The extreme and noxious tone and behaviour on display in the House of Commons and surrounding debates has gone way beyond any line of decency.

The increasingly vulgar MP for Rayleigh and Wickford in Essex, Mark Francois, has been angry and offensive on our airwaves for weeks. He shot to prominence tearing up a letter on TV. It was from the CEO of Airbus, Tom Enders, warning of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit to jobs in his own firm.

READ MORE: FM needs to be at Brexit table – but she must have the courage to say ‘enough is enough’

His company employs 14,000 people in the UK and a further 110,000 in its supply chain. Rather than take that seriously Francois decried Mr Enders for being German, “my father was a D-Day veteran and wouldn’t be bullied by Germans and nor will I”. But this wasn’t Fawlty Towers or Alf Garnet, this was a leading MP.

The deputy chair of the European Research Group held numerous ministerial positions under David Cameron. He could be seen yesterday braying and bellowing in the House of Commons like a boozed-up football hooligan. But this wasn’t at a Millwall game it was in the chamber of the “Mother of Parliaments”.

Earlier in the week he was interviewed on Radio 4 and told his own Chancellor Philip Hammond, “Up yours”. I ban screens if my kids speak like that, he should be banned from our screens.

Stick him in a T-shirt and doc boots and he would not look out of place with the sweaty, hollering louts screaming into the faces of (mainly female) MPs as they walk to work.

Just one badly behaved man. Just one example. But emblematic of a toxicity in the national discourse that is destroying Britain’s standing in the world and producing potentially disastrous outcomes for this and generations to come.

The former Conservative Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Francois, gets noticed. Not least by the Armed Forces he was once responsible for, no doubt.

So, it shouldn’t really surprise when we see footage from Kabul of soldiers, apparently from the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, shooting their rifles at a picture of the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn the day after the Prime Minister announced she was seeking his support.

READ MORE: MoD probe use of Corbyn image for troops' shooting practice

Now of Corbyn I am no fan. But he deserves courtesy and respect as all elected representatives do, especially when they hold positions of leadership and responsibility.

But the conduct and aggression and vulgarity of Francois creates the space in which soldiers feel free to do what they did. Loose, nasty, aggressive, bigoted talk costs us all.

A throw-away quip from Boris Johnson about “vassalage and slavery” may amuse in the parlour of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s townhouse. But it signals to the violent extremists on the far right that “it is time to do something about it”.

The National:

An anti-German, remember-the-war jibe on College Green by Francois permits aggression and bigotry towards tens of thousands of Germans making their lives in the UK. It is nasty it is noxious, and it is not on. Not in my name.

Pulitzer-prize winning writer Thomas Friedman published a report from London in the New York Times yesterday entitled The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad.

He asked “in the US who is the CEO of Microsoft? Satya Nadella. Who is the CEO of Google? Sundar Pichai. Who is the CEO of Adobe? Shantanu Narayen. Who is the CEO of Workday? Aneel Bhusri. Hello London? The best talent wants to go to the most open systems – open both to immigrants and trade – because that is where the most opportunities are. Britain is about to put up a big sign: GO AWAY”.

This is what is becoming of us and the world is noticing. The Britain many Scots voted to maintain in 2014 is no more.

The Scottish Conservative Party would do well to pay heed to the implications for their own reputation of being associated both with this conduct by their party colleagues and the whole Brexit calamity.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government created a promotional film targeting its message at the rest of Europe, offering the polar opposite perspective: “Our beautiful country is open to you ... our arms are open our minds are open ... Europe. Scotland is open”.

This tone matters and has to be heard in the interests of our reputation, jobs and economic cohesion for generations to come.

And yet in another low point in a depressing era, one Glasgow Labour MP condemned the message as “the Scottish Government using public money to promote smarmy, saccharine, bourgeoise tripe like this”. Yeuch.

The last time I heard the word “bourgeoise” was in my dorm as a first year at university. I was a pretentious 17-year-old, trying to impress. I was mocked then and rightly so. More serious though was the idea that to do anything to try to mark Scotland out as different and to promote our own reputation was wrong. I felt so dispirited reading that. We have come to expect the worst of the Conservative right. I expected better from a Glasgow Labour MP.

If the Parliamentarians are behaving like yobs, the yobs have permission to behave even more aggressively. The far right is being legitimised and given a voice. Just as Trump is to Mexico so is Britain sounding to the rest of Europe. It is extraordinarily ugly and the damage will be lasting.

For some in Scotland however, no matter how nasty UK politics gets, no matter how disastrous the economic consequences of Brexit, no matter how low Britain’s reputation falls. It will always and everywhere be better than Scotland taking its own and different path.

There was once a strong and passionate case for Britain and the Union and Scotland’s place within it. Some of the people I love the most articulated it well. We can hear none of it now because that case has evaporated.

Progress in independence case

THE value of the Progress Scotland project set up by Angus Robertson was made clear last weekend. It published a comprehensive new poll offering insight into the perspectives of the very people we need to persuade to win the case for independence and to escape the Titanic of the Tory Brexit chaos.

Sixty-three per cent believe Scotland will become independent, which matters enormously. When I started campaigning 32 years ago the most common response was “it will never happen, son”.

Even more importantly, one in five of us is changing our mind from 2014. And of those in the “persuadable” category – 77% – said they would vote for independence if “I was convinced it would be good for the economy”.

We have our heading, this is the direction we must focus on and make a case that is compelling, honest and clear. No-one will believe that it can be delivered overnight and without effort. But many will be convinced that hard work and effort will be worth it. Just as it is for the most successful small independent countries in the world.

Amidst the darkness of Brexit and Britain’s descent I am increasingly hopeful we can do this. Exciting.