JUST as we find it hard to recall a time before mobile phones we encounter similar difficulties remembering when the twin parties of the Union in Scotland last had a coherent electoral strategy. For a year or so Ruth Davidson was on the crest of a ripple with her “no second referendum” mantra. The Scottish and UK print media, who often left the truth at home when discussing matters of Scottish independence, felt obliged to say that Davidson had effected a Tory revolution north of the Border.

The “revolution” ended abruptly with her resignation following the accession of Boris Johnson to the Tory throne. By then, though, the Scottish ToriesWestminster contingent had long been exposed as a spineless rabble of the hard right. Their collective inadequacy has been such that in a two-horse contest they would be struggling to hang on to third, an outcome predicted by all of the recent polls.

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Davidson, though, possessed a degree of perky charisma that gave her media glove-puppets something to play with. Soon, they were according her messiah status in England too. Labour, who by then had become the Tories’ main Scottish footstool, did not even have Davidson’s shallow allure to fall back on. “Labour facing Scottish wipe-out” has now become a part of the front-page furniture in our newspapers as reliable as “Boris facing fresh conduct inquiry”. Once more Labour will require snookers to win Scottish seats.

The National: The Scottish Tories had Ruth Davidson's charm but she took it all with her when she resignedThe Scottish Tories had Ruth Davidson's charm but she took it all with her when she resigned

In England, Brexit has destroyed reasoned political debate and replaced it with a form of anarchy. In this, positions which once would have been regarded as extreme or to exist only in the realm of bampots are now regarded as reasonable. “Get Brexit done” has now come to justify a slew of reactionary invective ranging from intimidation of the British judiciary; threats of physical violence to female Remain activists and naked contempt for democratic institutions. When the British state’s own attorney general rages against the “dead parliament” like a latterday Mr Bumble you know that we are living in extraordinary times.

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In Scotland, we preen a little and console ourselves with the thought that our political discourse will never descend to such a level. No-one’s suggesting that at the end of another day at Holyrood they’re all gathered beside an open hearth, linking arms and singing Sweet Caroline, but proceedings seem always to be conducted in a manner less squalid. We hoped too that this spirit would hold throughout the forthcoming trial of Alex Salmond on an array of sexual misconduct charges which he vehemently denies. It seems, though, that in doing this, we may have reckoned without the sheer state of squalid desperation in which both the Scottish Tories and Labour in Scotland now find themselves.

Each of these parties face an electoral apocalypse at the impending Westminster and Holyrood elections: the Tories as a consequence of their having been annexed by a hard-right cabal and Labour by the sheer incompetence and weakness of its Scottish leadership. Now, in the absence of any reasoned strategy to prevent this happening, they have signalled an eagerness to weaponise the Salmond trial. Yesterday’s Herald carried a report in which senior Scottish Tories are urging Boris Johnson to go for a spring General Election to take electoral advantage of “SNP turmoil” surrounding the trial. Knuckles could also be heard scraping the ground in the ranks of Labour in Scotland: “The best outcome for us would be to go next year during the Alex Salmond trial,” a party source said.

This trial will feature charges of serious sexual misconduct against women. It’s scarcely believable that the Tories and Labour now intend to exploit what will be a distressing event for their own political gain. Labour have failed utterly as a functioning political party in Scotland over a 12-year period in which they stopped representing their core supporters in Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities. Thereafter they created a hostile environment for many of them who had indicated a preference for an independent Scotland even as they continued to uphold the values of socialism. During this period the party has come to resemble a drunk man trying to flag down a 2am taxi. In seeking to leverage matters at the heart of the Salmond trial they have found new depths. And though we have perhaps become impervious to the egregiously flagrant disregard for common decency that has come to characterise the UK Conservatives since the EU referendum, this is wretched, wretched stuff from their Holyrood representatives.

A dangerously febrile atmosphere is building in England which has partly been whipped up by arch Brexiteers in the Conservative party. There are suggestions that some are hoping for violent unrest on Britain’s streets, thus justifying the deployment of our armed forces and a state of emergency being declared. And while you can imagine that this might be the favoured outcome of their sociopath wing you still believe that, even in the midst of the current squalls, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove might still be capable of locating the remnants of their former democratic selves and abjure such an extremity.

Some of us continue to believe that our elected representatives of all political shades entered the realms of politics at least partly with an intention to serve and to work for what they believe to be in Scotland’s best interests, whether as an independent country or as part of the Union. The electoral system that we created in Scotland ensured that all constituencies of thought and political belief would be healthily represented at Holyrood. Now, 20 years later, we find that two of our main political parties have become so morally reduced, so desperate for votes that they would seek to prey on the outcome of the trial of Alex Salmond no matter how it plays out. It is an admission that after two decades of devolved government in Scotland each is lacking in policies and ideas for the improvement of the country. This is a betrayal of politics.

During the course of the Salmond trial and in its immediate aftermath the media and the wider Scottish electorate will be encouraged to be temperate in our responses, such is the sensitivity of the matters at its heart.

There is a risk that political discourse in Scotland will be polluted if we seek some tribal advantage from these proceedings. Sadly, it seems that the process of contamination has already begun.