IF I wasn’t so unshockable by British politics the Liberals’ pole vaults in the last week would have left me shaken. As they chase the Remain core in England and Unionist core in Scotland , they have inadvertently assaulted the fabric of every principle they are actually supposed to value.

Now before I get to that, let me make clear that I think Jo Swinson is clearly a highly capable and intelligent person. On leaving school in Milngavie she secured herself a place at the London School of Economics from where she graduated with a first-class degree in management. That took an unusual degree of drive and ambition on its own as not too many Scots take that road on leaving school.

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She then worked in various businesses across England before winning election in 2005 as the youngest MP. She lost her seat in the SNP landslide of 2015 and won it back again in 2017. She was elected as her party’s first female leader in the summer. All this and she has not yet turned 40.

Behind the public image she has no doubt been through many of the ups and downs we all face. And not to forget she is also the mother of two young children and has even run a few marathons.

So, there is much to look on and admire about the character and tenacity of Ms Swinson.

I also like her ambition – there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in politics. We need more ambition as a general rule.

But having said all of these important positive points I must now also say that I think she has made a real strategic error in two directions this week. First, her decision to say she will, if the Liberals win the election, call a halt to Brexit without recourse to a referendum.

This looks to me to be the mirror image of hollow populist extremism trumpeted by the Brexiteers. The thinking, I know, is that this positioning will help the Liberals attract more of the core Remain voters and, she hopes, game the system a touch to win more seats. How she holds the legitimacy of that position in the unlikely event that she wins is a question of Johnsonian proportion.

It is not a truthful position to take and I guess she knows that. It is not actually designed to stop Brexit because she also knows that it will need a legitimate referendum or this chaos will be unending.

It is a naked attempt to secure marginal advantage for her party, which is exactly the approach many condemn Labour and the Tories for – and hoped the Liberals would eschew.

As a rule, the watching public are open-hearted to the Liberals because they seem to occupy a doubtful centrist position which reflects where many minds are. But in the end they tend to get squeezed out by the electoral system.

But anyone in politics will have stories to tell on the unedifying tactics they deploy in local campaigns in what is a win-at-all-costs culture too often. The dirtiest of street fighters, in reality.

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This position on Brexit elevates that culture to the national stage. But what is worse still is their new stance on Scotland. She now argues that, because she doesn’t want independence, even if a Scottish Parliament election returns a mandate for a referendum and Holyrood subsequently votes for it, that she would seek to deny that because it is not what she wants.

So as prime minister of the UK she would also oppose the democratic claims of the Scottish people, reject devolution and precedence and carry on regardless. How very Boris.

So, she gets to cancel Brexit without a vote because it is in her manifesto, but the SNP don’t even get to ask the question that is in their manifesto? What she is really saying is that the SNP should just say they will declare independence if they win any election where that policy is in their manifesto. That is the consistent read across of what she is arguing. And it is no way to govern in a legitimate and orderly way.

Taken together, those two positions reek of the strongman populist tactics of Johnson, Farage, Trump and all. It is trying to beat them at their own game and it stinks.

The internal hypocrisy is so stark it is bang in the unsweet spot of Orwellian doublespeak dominating too much of public discourse. It is astonishing, really.

In her conference speech she was happy to go on the personal attack, as well, on Messers Corbyn and Johnson. For the latter it was his parents’ choice of school for him that was most important.

She forgot clearly that two of the five Liberal prime ministers in history (Gladstone and Primrose) also went to Eton. He may have been an Etonian, but you could be assured that Gladstone would not be approving of his party’s position today.

And this is what happens when the chaos of these past few years goes unchecked. The fabric of our whole constitution is tugged at, ripped, diminished. How long before Prime Minister Swinson would be condemning judges and having her government taken to task in the Supreme Court? On this evidence, not very long?

Attempt to rig indyref2 is worthy of Kim Jong-un

ARE there any adults left in the room?

While not to be outdone by the lurch away from democracy by the Liberals, some of the more, let’s generously say, energetic Union campaigners came up with the joint wizard wheeze this week of allowing a future independence referendum but then just trying to rig the outcome.

It was almost like a spoof account by the Daily Mash or Have I Got News for You. A 66% threshold would need to be reached for independence to be approved. Now this is a position that would impress Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin.

Elsewhere, other batty suggestions are being made to change the question being put to try and skew the result.

It seems that there is a collective psychosis that is infecting all of public life as its spores are blown across the land from the epicentre of the madness at Westminster.

It really is not good enough. We need to demonstrate that there is an antidote to the populist extremism currently ruling the roost. Progressives will not win by aping it. Such tactics will only underscore the descent. We can only hope that the adults in the Supreme Court can help save the country from itself.

We can’t order our country and society for the challenges we now face by gaming wizard wheeze campaign ideas in political backrooms.

Too much is at stake. Far too much is at stake.