A GENTRIFICATION of Scottish political engagement is now in full spate. It began to gather pace during the first Scottish independence campaign when the UK’s political elites began to encounter forces they felt unable to control by the usual means.

These political classes (and they are by no means confined to the Conservative and Unionist Party) until recent years had always set the order and laid down the rules by which politics is permitted to unfold in this country. Anyone who threatened to reveal the truth of these matters or who refused to abide by the rules set down a long time ago could only hope to get so far before having their collars felt and their lives trashed.

Almost the entire British newspaper industry was (and continues to be) owned by an exclusive club of multi-millionaires. Their personal and family fortunes rest on ensuring that nothing is ever permitted to alter the delicate balance that maintains the British political eco-system. Thus, they could always be relied upon to seek and destroy the reputations and credibility of belligerent types who refused to be bought off by peerages, quangos and non-executive directorships. A familiar lexicon of words and phrases are deployed when members of this truculent awkward squad require to be taken out: extremist; hard-left; populist.

It’s rarely remarked upon that those who were found to have betrayed this country most grievously and to have jeopardised most infamously the safety of the realm all belonged to the UK’s ruling elites; right up to and including senior members of the British royal family.

A glance along the current benches of the House of Lords reveals rows of ermined and hollowed-out husks within whose souls (long since bought) once burned the fires of righteous indignation. You and I once knew them as the cream of Scottish Labour.

The first independence referendum unleashed forces that the political elites initially found difficult to contain. Social media began to threaten the monopoly on truth that the UK press and BBC news managers had always enjoyed.

Much more distressingly for them, it also provided a very quick and easy means of exposing inaccuracy and blatant untruths. But perhaps most problematically of all, its reach began to extend beyond the traditional circulation boundaries of newspapers.

To solve this problem a curious gentrification of politics began to gain favour. This is how it works. You first seek to portray many of those who use social media as rude, foul-mouthed and irresponsible. You dismiss them as “trolls” and describe them as vile and dangerous. They are causing untold distress to nice, polite and well-mannered folks who have always refrained from using bad language. As some of the most effective and therefore dangerous practitioners of this anarchic new medium were supporters of Scottish independence, a special designation had to be found. Thus the term “cybernat” was born.

READ MORE: SNP MP Stewart McDonald distances himself from 'war on cybernats' reports

Thereafter it was fuelled and given sustenance by waves of false outrage and manufactured indignation. Many of those who purported to be offended by some of the unpleasant language and vivid imagery of the so-called cybernats rarely permitted themselves to be outraged by the social consequences of a hard-right Westminster Government.

The language and sentiments they affected to be upset by often sprang from justifiable anger at observing close up the death, disease and ill-health that is the direct result of some Tory policies.

Scottish independence could never hope to cure this on its own but it offered the opportunity to make the initial break from the polity which had let it fester for centuries. By portraying those who chose to deploy unkempt and untutored language as villains you are thus able to deflect attention from the real villainy and immorality at play here: why one of the richest countries in the world is also one of the most unequal in Europe.

The National: All Under One Banner march

We’ll leave aside the inconvenient truth that Scotland’s Twitter community is, in the main, a small echo chamber that resonates with its own sense of puffed-up, self-importance. Similarly, we won’t scrutinise too closely the words of newspaper columnists (myself included) and editors which can often hurt much more profoundly and destroy the lives of ordinary people who may have made a wrong turning in their lives.

Until very recently, we journalists were only rarely called to account for our words and only then in the heavily edited letters pages of our own newspapers. Just because we might use a more gentrified and socially approved argot doesn’t mean our words don’t cause pain to those ill-deserving of it.

Into this gentrification trap have fallen some senior SNP figures who really ought to know much better. Among them are Angus Robertson, Stewart McDonald and Alyn Smith who, for reasons best known to themselves, took it upon themselves to declare war on these vile cybernats who are ruining their lives and being so beastly to everyone.

Thus, on a weekend which had seen 100,000 Yes supporters take part in a peaceful and good-natured march through Glasgow, these three chose to use words such as “weird”, “creepy”, “snarling”, “vicious”, “poisonous” and “vile” to describe online abusers.

Perhaps they are all hoping to secure a lectureship at Glasgow University’s school for the political elite, aka the John Smith Centre for Public Affairs. This outfit will become attractive to well-behaved, middle-class, degree-educated busybodies who want to have a political career without getting their hands dirty.

This of course avoids ever actually having to engage with the usual victims of their utter failure over generations to hold power properly to account, not to mention exposure to all that swearing that seems to trouble them so. Presumably, membership of the course comes with a satnav just in case they ever do find themselves in one of Scotland’s edgier neighbourhoods.

I’ve got a message for Angus Robertson, Stewart McDonald and Alyn Smith.

Leave the Unionist propaganda to your opponents. Re-double your efforts on doing what we pay you for: fighting hard for the communities and the lives that have been destroyed by your political foes. Don’t pretend to be upset at the uncouth and uncivilised language of the cybernats. Instead, when you’re sharing cocktails in all your kilted finery at your next £100-a-head dinner you could try using some of it on the bankers and industrialists you’re all fond of meeting and who are guilty of much, much more than a few obstreperous cybernats.

May I also suggest you consult with your learned colleague and friend Joanna Cherry, the most able politician in Scotland?

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry given police protection following suspected death threat

The estimable Ms Cherry is currently receiving police protection for threats and abuse which make the abjurations of the cybernats look like the aftermath of the best man’s speech at a Glasgow wedding.

So, get your fingers out your arses and get real.